History of the Naperville Chorus
The Naperville Chorus has been filling the western suburbs of Chicago with song since 1976. With over 100 voices, the chorus performs a broad repertoire, which has included classical choral works by composers such as Bach, Handel, Mendelssohn, Mozart and Vivaldi; as well as 20th century pieces by Prokofiev, Rutter and Orff; reggae-style Christmas carols, Broadway show tunes, and the motet composed to honor Naperville-native Commander Daniel Shanower, killed in the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon.
The origins of the chorus go back more than 90 years to the formation of the Oratorio Society, a collaboration between students and townspeople. The Society continued through the 1920s and 1930s. In the 1960s, Dr. Paul Warren Allen of the North Central College Music Department, melded the vocal talents of students, college personnel, and community members into a forerunner of the Naperville Chorus. The North Central College Community Chorus flourished and performed contemporary and traditional choral works until 1971, when financial cutbacks at the college eliminated the Music Department.
In 1976, Robert O. Jaynes revived the concept of a community-wide chorus for Naperville, anchored by singers recruited to perform with the Naperville Municipal Band at the city’s celebration of the country’s bicentennial. Reincarnated as the Naperville Community Chorus, the group presented concerts semi-annually, and soon added appearances at the downtown Christmas tree lighting ceremony and at summer band concerts.
With the retirement of Mr. Jaynes in 1989, the chorus entered a new era. Professor Jeordano Martínez, of the restored Music Department at North Central College, accepted the chorus directorship, re-establishing the musical link between the community and the college.
Under the leadership of Director Martínez, the chorus has thrived. In the spring of 1992, the chorus dropped “community” from its name in recognition of the breadth of its membership, which now includes singers from across the western suburbs. With an expanded repertoire, they have performed with other area choruses, the DuPage Symphony Orchestra, and the Chicago Bar Association Orchestra, and have performed on tour in Central Europe, Spain, Portugal and Ireland. The chorus also reaches out to the community through the Naperville Chorus Chamber Singers which performs at local civic and business events throughout the year.
Throughout its history, the Naperville Chorus has been dedicated to the advancement of choral music, the encouragement of participation in choral singing, and the development of the appreciation of good music. The chorus fulfills this mission through the support of its membership, as well as the continued support of North Central College, the Special Events and Cultural Amenities fund of Naperville, the Illinois Arts Council, and the support of corporate sponsors and individual benefactors.