History of the Warwick Valley Chorale
The Warwick Valley Chorale began as the Warwick Summer Chorale on June 18, 1940, organized and directed by Kate Fowler Chase, a member of the Board of Directors of the National Federation of Music Clubs. The first concert, with 16 women participating, was held on November 28, 1941.
Warwick Summer Chorale - August 1947
Five years later, in September, 1946, the Queen Village Glee Club was formed, with Reverend John Lennon, Minister of the Warwick Methodist Church, as director. Their first Christmas concert, with 20 men singing, was held in December of that year, followed by a spring concert in May, 1947.
Queen Village Glee Club - 1954
In December, 1948, Reverend Irving Decker of the Warwick Reformed Church invited the two groups to join for the first Community Christmas Candlelight Service. The groups continued to present their separate concerts until 1970 when they joined in a single presentation, each group led by its own director and accompanist.
Combined Choruses - 1953
Finally, in 1979, they became the Warwick Valley Chorale, and we are now the oldest active singing group in Orange County. During our 2023-2024 season, we are celebrating our 8xth anniversary.
In the past we were Chorus in Residence for the Warwick Music Festival for five years. We have performed for many local events, such as High School Baccalaureates, Organ Dedication Service at the Warwick Reformed Church; blessing and dedication of the new wing of St Anthony Community Hospital; Ecumenical Service for the Town of Warwick Bicentennial; Groundbreaking ceremony for the Senior Living and Health Care Community of Mount Alverno; dedications of World War II and Viet Nam Memorial plaques; Village of Warwick World Trade Center Memorial and Home for the Holidays; as well as participating in the World Trade Center Warwick Citizens Memorial Benefit and dedication ceremonies.
In recent years, the Chorale has extended its activities to other communities. We’ve sung back-up to Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers at the Paramount Theater in Middletown, sung in concerts at the United States Military Academy at West Point, and with the West Point Concert Band. We have participated in over a dozen concert performances at the ever famous Carnegie Hall in New York City in the past twelve years, as well as performing in the Voices of Hope concert, Philadelphia, a memorial to the victims of the September 11 Attack on America. Internationally, in recent years, some of our members have performed abroad with the Jonathan Griffith Singers in Czechoslovakia, Spain, Australia and China and with MidAm International in Greece and Vienna, Austria, and Paris, France.
Our membership consists of men and women, ranging from high school students to senior citizens. New members are always welcome. We present at least two concerts, fall and spring, each year. Stanley Curtis, a former Associate Professor of Music at Orange County Community college was the Director of the Chorale from 1986 until 2020. Ron De Fesi took over the director's baton in 2023. Gail Johnson has been our accompanist since 1992. The WVC is indebted to Dennis English who was our interim conductor during the Covid pandemic era.
Enthusiasm and voluntary support over these 80+ years have enabled us to present our concerts for you.
Here are some looks back to recent concert seasons of the Warwick Valley Chorale:
Spring 2020, Fall 2020 & Spring 2021: these seasons were cancelled due to the COVID 19 Pandemic.