History

Founded as Wisconsin Vocal Ensemble

The ensemble was founded in 1978 as the Wisconsin Vocal Ensemble with David Saladino, a local musician and high school music teacher, as the first music director. During his tenure, the group was featured in the first Fox Valley Arts Alliance Pops concert and collaborated with the Lawrence University Concert Choir. In following years, the group was conducted by Timothy Carney, who led the group in the annual Lessons and Carols concerts, as well as in notable concerts of Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass and Schönberg’s Friede auf Erde.

Name change to White Heron Chorale

The Ensemble welcomed a new director, Kate Tamarkin, during its fifth season and adopted its new name, the White Heron Chorale. The name, “White Heron,” carries a tradition of spirited music and can be traced to the early 1800s, when Hippolyte Grignon used it as a name for his home and settlement on the banks of the Fox River. In the evenings after supper, fur traders and trappers often gathered to sing their rollicking songs around an open fire. For 25 years, the ensemble was under the direction of Prof. Richard Bjella of Lawrence University. During his long and rich tenure, the White Heron Chorale grew in both singers and audience members. His leadership presented a variety of themes and genres and continually challenged our artistic boundaries. Under Rick’s direction, the White Heron Chorale gained a reputation as one of the area’s outstanding choral ensembles and we are proud that many of his former students still sing with our group.

Transition Years

Our 2009-2010 season was a transitional year, but an exciting one as we were under the baton of Dr. Paul Nesheim, a talented and gifted choral conductor. His dedication to each singer’s vocal instrument allowed us to produce some of the most lyrical ensemble singing we experienced. Dr. Nesheim was a visiting professor at Lawrence and returned to his position at the University of Minnesota-Moorhead. Durig the 2010-2011 season, the Chorale took an exciting step by engaging two talented conductors, Phillip Swan and Steve Sieck. The two are co-directors of choral studies at Lawrence University and each brought his own talents to the podium of the White Heron Chorale.

New direction as newVoices

Under the leadership of Dr. Phillip Swan, the ensemble has achieved new levels in artistic performance, community impact, and fellowship. Dr. Swan is the co-director of choral studies at the Lawrence University Conservatory of Music and a sought-after clinician and guest conductor. His vision inspired our name change to newVoices and a renewed commitment to collaborative artistic and community programming. In his years leading newVoices, we have expanded the size of the ensemble, continued to grow concert attendance, and we instituted the successful annual collaboration with the Fox Valley Symphony Orchestra, the U.S. Venture Masterworks Series.

What kind of music does newVoices perform?

NewVoices performs a wide variety of musical styles including jazz, folk, contemporary, classical sacred, musical theatre, madrigal, gospel, spirituals and more. Throughout its history, the ensemble has had a reputation for outstanding performances with nationally recognized groups such as Musica Sacra of New York, Dave Brubeck and his Trio, Dale Duesing, Nick Page, Margaret Hillis and the Trinity Irish Dancers. Some of our favorite major works and concerts include:
Orff’s Carmina Burana, performed with the Fox Valley Symphony and the Lawrence Academy Girl Choir
Carmen, presented concert style with the Fox Valley Symphony
Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony performed in collaboration with the Fox Valley Symphony
“Facing the Music (the unfamiliar truth about Human Trafficking: awareness, education, and hope)” a concert that raised awareness and education about human sex trafficking through public forums, informational materials for music educators, a community book read, pre-concert discussion and a fall concert. For this concert, we were awarded the education and community engagement award presented annually by Chorus America.
Oktoberfest in collaboration with the Dorf Kapelle German band
Fiddler on the Roof, concert style
Brahms’ German Requiem in collaboration with Lawrence University choirs
Bloch’s Sacred Service
Verdi’s Four Sacred Pieces
Bach’s B Minor Mass
Mozart’s Requiem
Britten’s War Requiem in collaboration with Lawrence University choirs
Mozart’s Mass in C minor