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 moved to the northwest Chicago suburbs in 2014, after 23 years living in Champaign-Urbana. In 1996, he founded a uniquely entertaining professional chamber orchestra called The Prairie Ensemble, with a mission to “make first-rate music fun, approachable and affordable.” Kevin has been honored three times by the Illinois Council of Orchestras for his work with the Ensemble: for Programming of the Year in 1999 and 2003 and for Meritorious Service in Orchestral Conducting in 2002. Since 1993, he has conducted the East Central Illinois Youth Orchestra—the ICO’s Youth Orchestra of the Year in 1999—and Kevin continues to commute to Champaign for Sunday rehearsals. After 13 years as a classical music host at public radio station WILL-FM in Urbana, he served as host and producer of “Live and Local,” which featured interviews with, and frequent live performances by artists across many musical genres, theater and dance. In the fall of 2015, he became Artistic Director of the Allegro Community Chorus, a program of the Palatine Park District, and Conductor for the Lake County Núcleo of Sistema Ravinia, an outreach program of the Ravinia Festival.
Kevin’s work with choirs included 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 Women’s Glee Club, Amasong, the Chorus of the Baroque Artists of Champaign Urbana and the Central Illinois Children’s Chorus. He previously directed the Sangamon Valley Youth Orchestras in Springfield and the Illini Statesmen Barbershop Chorus in Champaign-Urbana, and he has been active in musical theater with the Champaign-Urbana Theatre Company.
Kevin holds bachelor’s degrees in English and music history and criticism from Northwestern University, and master’s degrees in orchestral and choral conducting from the University of Illinois. He has sung with several Chicago-area choral ensembles, including the Chicago Symphony Chorus, the Grant Park Symphony Chorus, The City Musick, Basically Bach and His Majesties Clerkes (now Bella Voce). He has studied conducting with Kenneth Kiesler, Paul Vermel, Victor Yampolsky and Harold Farberman.
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.