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.