History of the Wichita Chamber Chorale
In the early months of 1978, the Wichita Chamber Chorale was founded by Philip Coleman, Michael Pohlenz, Nolen Pridemore and Howard Webb. These four friends had studied music education together and been members of the Singing Quakers at Friends University in Wichita, Kansas. Dr. Pohlenz and his friends envisioned an auditioned community choir for adult singers in South Central Kansas. Later that spring that dream would come true when the Wichita Chamber Chorale (WCC) presented their premiere concert with an ensemble of 30 of the region’s best singers. On April 23, 1978, Dr. Pohlenz conducted and Dr. John Leavitt accompanied the Chorale before a large and appreciative audience at East Heights United Methodist Church.
In addition to a regular schedule of performances and educational events in 1988 and 1989, WCC performed at conventions held by the Kansas Music Educators Association (KMEA), the Southwest Region of the American Choral Directors Association (SWACDA), and the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA). WCC also toured throughout Kansas and performed with the Wichita Symphony Orchestra, Music Theatre of Wichita, and under Robert Shaw with the choirs and orchestra of Wichita State University.
In March of 1992, WCC performed their first international concert with the State Academic Concert Orchestras of Moscow and St. Petersburg. Continuing their international tour in May of 1996, WCC performed for the Joan of Arc Festival in Orleans, France - one of Wichita's sister cities. The following year, WCC hosted the Chorale Francis Poulenc of Orleans in an Exchange Concert here in Wichita.
Wichita Chamber Chorale performed with the WSU Choirs and Orchestra in 2006, 2008, and 2009 accompanied by an orchestra of players from both WSU and the Wichita Symphony. In June 2009, WCC performed in a concert for the Region VI Convention of the American Guild of Organists, accompanied by David Josefiak. WCC also performed at the July 2009 Kansas Choral Directors Association (KCDA) conference in Topeka, Kansas.
WCC celebrated its 35th Anniversary in April of 2013 with a performance, directed by Dr. Mark Bartel, of Bach's Magnificat and Britten's Rejoice in the Lamb, along with American classics by Randall Thompson, Eric Whitacre, and Steven Stucky. Over fifty Alumni Singers joined the Chorale for several selections, conducted by Founding Director, Dr. Michael Pohlenz. Dr. Pohlenz was also given the honorary title of "Music Director and Conductor Emeritus" at the Anniversary Concert.
In 2015, Dr. Bartel, with the help of Senseney Music, developed and founded the Kansas Choral Composition Prize which fosters original choral music by composers with strong ties to Kansas.
Since its inception, Wichita Chamber Chorale has performed "Cabaret" each year. This performance is a musical fundraiser of Broadway and pop music standards, complete with delicious food and drink. In recent years, it has been held at Prairie Pines and hosted by Bob Scott, a past Chorale singer, board member and President. It continues to be an event that both audience members and singers look forward to.
Through the strength of its singers, the vision and leadership of its artistic directors and board members, and the support of its listening audience, the citizens of Wichita and surrounding communities will continue to enjoy the work of the Wichita Chamber Chorale for many years to come.
Past Wichita Chamber Chorale Directors
Dr. Michael Pohlenz
1978 - 2003
Dr. Robert Glasmann
2005 - 2010
Dr. Mark Bartel
2010 - 2019
Dr. Mariana Farah
Wichita Chamber Chorale Guest Conductors
Dr. John Buehler
Dr. Harrison Boughton
Dr. Marvin Latimer
Dr. Jerry McCoy