Our mission is to study and perform quality choral music, to unite people through their love of great choral literature, to nurture the appreciation of, and educate youth in the art of choral music.
WESTMORELAND CHORAL SOCIETY
Our Choral Members
The Westmoreland Choral Society is an 80 member community chorus established in 1971 and located in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Its singers, united for over 40 years by a love of singing and the challenge of performing quality choral music, come from a wide variety of backgrounds in a five-county area of Western Pennsylvania. In addition to its annual three-concert season in Greensburg and surrounding communities, the Society has performed concerts in Montreal, Toronto, Baltimore, Colonial Williamsburg, Lancaster, the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., and in the New England area in the summer of 2004. It currently has an ongoing relationship with the Pittsburgh Festival Orchestra, River City Brass, Bodiography, and Nancy Galbraith.
In the Spring of 1971, two former members of the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh, Oren Hopkins and Linda Stainton, not fond of traveling to Pittsburgh for rehearsals and concerts decided it was time to form a local choral society. The success of the recently organized Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra, along with the encouragement of the music faculty from Seton Hill College and the support of others from the Greensburg community, led to the formation of the Westmoreland Choral Society. Rehearsals began on September 8, 1971, with Dr. William Dovenspike as director and his wife Arlene as accompanist. In its early years, the WCS struggled financially and suffered a high turnover in membership.
Rehearsals began on September 8, 1971, with Dr. William Dovenspike as director and his wife Arlene as accompanist.
In its early years, the WCS struggled financially and suffered a high turnover in membership. In September 1976, Marvin Huls became the Musical Director of the WCS. At the same time, Bill Peters was hired to fill the position of Accompanist. With forty-four new members joining the organization, the WCS became a 75 voice singing group. Edgar Highberger became the Accompanist in January 1978.
Rehearsals were originally held at Seton Hill College. Other facilities used for rehearsals include the First Methodist Church, Greensburg; First Presbyterian Church, Greensburg; the YMCA, Greensburg; the Salvation Army, Greensburg; back to the First Presbyterian Church; and finally the present location, First Lutheran Church, Greensburg.
The WCS draws its members from Westmoreland, Fayette, Allegheny, Armstrong, and Somerset Counties. The singers come from various educational, career, and professional backgrounds united by the love of singing, the challenge of learning a variety of choral music, and the desire to participate in the continuation of this art form.
The annual concert series has expanded from the original two concerts per year to the point where it now includes a Christmas Concert; a Lenten Concert concentrating on sacred music; and an early May Pops Concert. The WCS has performed at the Westmoreland County Arts and Heritage Festival at Twin Lakes Park, at St. Clair Park in Greensburg and also on other special occasions. The WCS has taken singing tours to Canada, Williamsburg and Lancaster.
In 2009, Marvin Huls and Ed Highberger announced their intentions to retire after 34 and 32 years respectively of leadership.
This triggered a year-long search for a new Musical Director and Accompanist. In May of 2010, the Board of Directors hired Thomas Octave as the new director; Nancy Finke Sheehan agreed to serve as accompanist. Under Tom’s direction, the Society has expanded its cooperation with other area arts groups and re-established some traditions from the past.
The WCS created a composer-in-residence program which resulted in world premiere performances of works composed for the group by Pittsburgh area composers. The Westmoreland Children’s Chorus was re-established in 2013 and is now performing at two of each season’s concerts. In 2012 and 2013, the fall concerts featured original choreography by Bodiography, a contemporary dance company from Pittsburgh. In 2013, this relationship resulted in the WCS singing live for two Bodiography performances in the Byham Theater in the Pittsburgh Cultural District.
Since 2010, most concerts have featured instrumentalists from the Pittsburgh Festival Orchestra. In 2012, the WCS began a tradition of singing with River City Brass for the second of its Christmas Concert performances. In 2014, the WCS will sing with the Pittsburgh Philharmonic in two performances of the Beethoven 9th Symphony. Performance venues have also expanded. In addition to the downtown Pittsburgh performances mentioned earlier, concerts have been held in New Kensington, Irwin, and Latrobe as well as the Seton Hill University Performing Arts Center and Westmoreland County Community College.