NWCS Selects Kevin Kelly as Artistic Director

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Northwest Choral Society (“NWCS”), the premier community-based choral group in the northwest Chicago suburbs, has named Kevin Kelly its Artistic Director.  Northwest Choral Society was founded in 1965, and Mr. Kelly will be NWCS’s fourth Artistic Director when the chorus begins rehearsals for its fifty-third season on September 4.

Mr. Kelly is the Artistic Director of the Allegro Community Chorus, a program of the Palatine Park District, conductor for the Lake County Núcleo of Sistema Ravinia, an outreach program of the Ravinia Festival, and, since 1993, he has conducted the East Central Illinois Youth Orchestra in Champaign, helping to build an eleven-player middle school string ensemble into a full symphony orchestra of high school and middle school students from communities throughout the area and receiving the Illinois Council of Orchestras’ “Youth Orchestra of the Year” in 1999.

He previously founded The Prairie Ensemble in Champaign-Urbana, a professional chamber orchestra, and he was honored three times by the Illinois Council of Orchestras for his work with the Ensemble.  He also has directed the Sangamon Valley Youth Orchestras in Springfield and the Illini Statesmen Barbershop Chorus in Champaign-Urbana.  

Mr. Kelly worked for 18 years at public radio station WILL-FM in Urbana: for 13 years as a classical music host, then as host and producer of “Live and Local,” which featured interviews with, and frequent live performances by, artists across many musical genres.

His work with choirs also includes 17 years as choirmaster at Emmanuel Memorial Episcopal Church in Champaign. As music director of The Prairie Ensemble, he conducted collaborative performances with the University of Illinois Concert Choir and the Women’s Glee Club, Amasong, the Chorus of the Baroque Artists of Champaign-Urbana and the Central Illinois Children’s Chorus. He has directed the Sangamon Valley Youth Orchestras in Springfield and the Illini Statesmen Barbershop Chorus in Champaign-Urbana, and was active as a music director and conductor with the Champaign-Urbana Theatre Company.

Mr. Kelly has sung with the Chicago Symphony Chorus, the Grant Park Symphony Chorus, The City Musick, Basically Bach, His Majesties Clerkes (now Bella Voce), the choir at Winnetka’s Christ Church and the Schola Cantorum of St. Peter’s Church in the Loop.  

He received bachelor’s degrees in English (essay writing) and music history and criticism from Northwestern University, and master’s degrees in orchestral and choral conducting from the University of Illinois.  Mr. Kelly is a resident of Elgin, Illinois.

NWCS invites experienced singers from the greater Chicago area to audition to join the organization.  Throughout the chorus’ season (September through mid-June), a variety of sacred, secular, classical and popular music is prepared and performed at three concerts, and this repertoire has become a hallmark of the group.  Basses, tenors, altos and sopranos with previous choral experience and 17 years of age or older can obtain additional information about the Northwest Choral Society at www.nwchoralsociety.org.  

NWCS will host a “Meet and Greet” for prospective new members on Tuesday, August 28, at 7:00 p.m. at First Congregational Church, 766 Graceland Avenue, Des Plaines (contact: 224/585-9127; www.nwchoralsociety.org).  The new session’s first concert, featuring traditional and contemporary holiday music, is scheduled for Sunday, December 2, at 4 p.m. at St. Raymond de Penafort Church in Mt. Prospect.


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Mission: Audition Featured at Northwest Choral's June 2 Concert

Selecting a new dynamic, knowledgeable and personable leader is a major undertaking for any organization. However, that is the enviable challenge facing the board of directors and the forty-five members of the Northwest Choral Society (“NWCS”) as they consider the finalists vying to become the next artist director of the chorus. Their concert on June 2, entitled “Mission: Audition”, will be a unique opportunity to both celebrate the rich tradition of NWCS’s contemporary American music repertoire and meet the two finalist candidates who have been chosen from a wide field of applicants interested in being the next artistic director of Northwest Choral Society.

NWCS’s final concert of the 2017-18 season on June 2 will be at Southminster Presbyterian Church in Arlington Heights at 7:30 p.m. Each of the two artistic director finalists, Kevin Kelly of Elgin and Guillermo Muñoz Küster of Chicago, have selected the concert music to be performed during one half of the program. They have rehearsed with and prepared the chorus on alternative Tuesday evenings for the last two and a half months, and will be present at the concert to conduct their respective part of the program.

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Northwest Choral Society's Plans for 2018

Northwest Choral Society is preparing for it’s April 8th concert, “Celestial Songs” at Trinity Lutheran Church in Des Plaines. We welcome Carling FitzSimmons as our guest conductor. During this performance, NWCS will feature the premier of its commissioned piece Starlight by Thomas LaVoy. We know you will enjoy this new work. Also on the program will be his work Orbits.  In addition, Sure on This Shining Night by Lauridson, The heavens are telling by Haydn, Stars by Eriks Eišenvalds, Follow the Drinking Gourd by Vincente Chavarria and other pieces contributing to the theme of “Celestial Songs.”  It will be an afternoon of music to bring forth the glorious, divine, and ethereal feelings from mostly living composers.

Carling FitzSimmons is a conductor and soprano and a native of Oak Park. She received degrees in English and music from Kenyon College. She also is an arts educator at Merit School of Music and serves as artistic director of La Caccina, a professional women’s vocal ensemble that she founded in 2011. La Caccina’s next concert is “Open Book: Reprise” on Saturday, February 10th at Glenview Community Church.  Carling is the guest conductor for William Ferris Chorale and she conducted their Christmas performances of “In the Moon of Wintertime.” Their next concert will be May 5th.

NWCS’ search for a new artistic director is in the final phase.  Two candidates will direct the chorus for the June 2nd concert. Come see who our new artistic director might be.

Mark your calendar, put it on your phone:  Sunday, April 8th at 4:00 pm at Trinity Lutheran Church for “Celestial Songs.”  Enjoy an afternoon of beautiful and sublime music by this talented chorus.

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Northwest Choral Extends invitation to 'Global Holiday' Concert

Northwest Choral Society (“NWCS”) will musically circumvent the globe when it presents its “Global Holiday” concert, celebrating the holiday season with traditional and contemporary music on Sunday, December 3, 2017 at 4:00 p.m. at St. Raymond de Penafort Church in Mt. Prospect. 

The annual holiday concert will feature compositions from Africa, South America, the British Isles, European folk carols and, of course, both old and new American favorites.  William Lea is the Guest Conductor for the December 3 concert.

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Bee Gees and ABBA Help Northwest Choral Celebrate the '70s at June 3rd Concert

PARK RIDGE, IL, May 5, 2017 – Many will remember during the 1970s when music dance clubs – discotheques --- became extremely popular. Young people, wearing polyester bell-bottoms or hotpants in psychedelic colors or floral patterns and platform shoes, lined up outside popular clubs for a chance to enter dance floors lit with bright, pulsing lights and dance to recorded music with a pounding beat. “Disco” was the word that described the clubs, the music, the dance style, and the fashions that grew out of the “anything goes” scene.

Well, bell-bottoms, hotpants and platforms will be optional attire on Saturday, June 3 when the Northwest Choral Society (“NWCS”) performs its final concert of the 2016-17 season with  “Celebrate the ‘70s” at 7:30 p.m. at All Saints Lutheran Church in Palatine.  The church setting should not discourage concert-goers from dancing to their favorite disco beats.

Eleven of the songs featured on the concert program have been recognized as “No 1” hits on the “Billboard Magazine Hot 100” charts during the 1970s.  Nine of the concert songs are included on VH-1’s (cable network) list of “100 Greatest Dance Songs” and three of the songs appeared on the “Rolling Stone Magazine List of Top Ten Disco Songs of All Time”.

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