What something could be more wonderful than nearly 300 lawyers-musicians and friends performing the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein? Head to Symphony Center on April 26 for an evening of joyous melody and song with the Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, the Elgin Master Chorale, and award-winning soloists of The American Prize in Voice, conducted by CBASO founding music director David Katz.
The Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra is Chicagoland’s unique orchestra of attorneys, judges, and law students. The orchestra was founded in 1986 by two lawyer-cellists, who shared a stand at a do-it-yourself Messiah performance conducted by Margaret Hillis, who recommended David Katz, her Elgin Symphony associate conductor, as the founding music director. Twenty-nine years later, many of the original members still perform in the CBASO, alongside young lawyers who were not even born at the ensemble’s inception. Today the CBASO fields as many as 75 instrumentalists, along with a standing chorus directed by Rebecca Patterson. Most of the performers are lawyers, judges, and others from Chicago’s legal community. The CBA Symphony and Chorus serve as ambassadors for the Chicago Bar Association and the Chicago legal community, performing at Law Day concerts, giving holiday concerts at the Harold Washington Library, Navy Pier, and in neighborhood churches, performing for the inauguration of new judges, and honoring retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens with an original piece, Fanfare for the Common Law. The orchestra and chorus have even contributed to Lincoln scholarship, presenting concerts in Chicago and Springfield on music related to Abraham Lincoln and discovering the lost Mary Todd Lincoln Polka. The orchestra and chorus made their Symphony Center debut in 2011 performing Carmina Burana.
Elgin Master Chorale is comprised of approximately 100 adult singers – admitted by audition only – who share a passion for choral masterworks and other fine choral repertoire. Far from a solitary organization, Elgin Master Chorale creates collaborations with performing arts organizations such as the Elgin Symphony Orchestra and others that elevate and energize the entire community. They’ve recently begun an impactful educational outreach program, with matinees free of charge created specifically for the engagement, education, and artistic enjoyment of young people. They are committed to educational outreach in performing for – and with – area students who learn to value the arts as an integral part of their growth and a path to achieving their full potential. Elgin Master Chorale was formed in 1947, under the name Elgin Choral Union, when local musician Dean Chipman had a vision of a large-enough vocal ensemble to perform Brahms’ famed German Requiem. His dream became reality when 192 singers from over 15 local choirs joined together to give voice to this grand work. The premiere took place on May 7, 1948 at the First Congregational Church of Elgin. Frank Kratky directed the performance accompanied by two pianos. The house was full, the audience enthusiastic, and the largest vocal group in the Fox Valley was underway. Incorporated as a not-for-profit in 1966, the organization changed its name to Elgin Master Chorale in 2014 to better reflect its mission emphasis on musical excellence. In-residence at Elgin Community College, Elgin Master Chorale presents several concerts per year at the renowned Blizzard Theatre at the college, as well as the Hemmens Cultural Arts Center and other locations in the Chicago area. Under the direction of Maestro Andrew Lewis, Elgin Master Chorale is comprised of approximately 100 adult volunteer singers from across the Fox Valley communities. They are proud of our rich history, dedicated singers, and drive to excel; they have certainly grown from their valued roots as a ‘union’ of church choirs, and are dedicated to their mission of being the premiere vocal ensemble in the Fox Valley.