A Brief History of the Jefferson Choral Society
Following twenty-seven years as the Lynchburg Fine Arts Center Chorus, the Jefferson Choral Society was chartered in 1990 as a separate non-profit organization. The name was chosen because of the proximity to Thomas Jefferson's summer home, Poplar Forest, and his love of classical music. Norman Blake conducted the first JCS concert, performing Carmina Burana accompanied by the Lynchburg Symphony Orchestra in May of 1990, and Carl Harris became JCS Music Director in December of 1990.
With more than eighty-five members representing six area counties and eighteen different communities, the Jefferson Choral Society is Central Virginia's largest classical chorus and has sung over forty masterworks, including Mozart's Coronation Mass and Magnificat in C Major, Magnificat by John Rutter, the Requiems of Brahms, Fauré, Duruflé, Rutter, and Verdi, Gloria by Poulenc, Honeggar’s King David, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, and Haydn’s The Creation.
In addition to having presented concerts in numerous venues in Central Virginia, the JCS has performed in the Washington National Cathedral, Bruton Parish Church in Williamsburg, the Wintergreen Performing Arts Series, and Carnegie Hall in New York. Since 2003, the JCS has sung in benefit concerts at the National D-day Memorial in Bedford. Accompanying the group in its early years was Ruby Viar, and Rose Peak has accompanied the chorus since 1998.
During the fifteen years under the Direction of Carl Harris, the chorus traveled and entertained audiences in Germany, Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, France, and Italy. Aaron Garber became Music Director in 2007 and has conducted the chorus in premiere performances of two of his own specially commissioned compositions, Dies Irae and Credo, both scored for full orchestra and choir. Additionally, the chorus has performed another of Mr. Garber’s oratorios, Mary, the Mother of Jesus. With Mr. Garber, the JCS has toured and performed in England, Scotland, Canada, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Germany, Austria, and Canada for a second time, and this past summer to England and Scotland again.
In 2005, the Jefferson Youth Chorale was organized to perform with JCS in John Rutter's Mass of the Children. In more recent years, the Youth Chorale has partnered with Cantate, the Children's Choir of Central Virginia, to sing with the Jefferson Choral Society at Christmas and at the National D-day Memorial. The JCS reaches out to children and youth to foster a knowledge and appreciation of choral singing.
The Jefferson Choral Society continues to provide great music for all, not just classical music for some. Showing great versatility, the chorus has sung masterworks of choral music plus well-known gospel pieces, Broadway show tunes, folk songs, popular music, and music from nations around the world. The JCS performs at numerous community functions, weddings, and funerals. The chorus is governed by a Board of Directors and has three part-time paid positions, music director, accompanist, and business manager. The JCS is funded by individual and corporate donations, program advertising, ticket sales, fundraising events, and grants from foundations and the Virginia Commission for the Arts.
To serve the citizens of Central Virginia through the pursuit of artistic excellence in choral performance and repertoire. To enrich the community through a variety of concert programs that showcase masterworks of choral music. To introduce new artists, composers and music to our audiences. To bring together a diversity of persons to foster and share the art of choral music. To provide opportunities for youth and children to develop an appreciation of quality choral music. To make classical choral music accessible to all segments of the population.
2018-19 Board of Directors
Martha S. Coffey, President
Kim Downey, Vice President
Elsie Lemke, Treasurer
Connie Sowa, Recording Secretary
Melissa Williams, Business Manager
Aaron Garber, Conductor and Director
Rose Peak, Accompanist
Friends of the Jefferson Choral Society
Karl Wuttke, Charter Member
Nancy Downey, Jacqueline Hull, Mrs. Pat Kurtz, Elsie Lemke, Ed McCoy, Pat McLaughlin, Michelle Roberson, Shirley F. Stafford, Gail St. Clair