Two years after starting, Paul took a position in Oregon, and the rest of us got together to decide what we were going to do. I volunteered to assume the role of manager and handle the arrangements for our rehearsals and concerts and to get funding for our new director. The Arts Commission of the City of East Lansing was generous in providing funding until we could get “on our feet.”
We asked a graduate student at Michigan State University, Peter Hopkins, to be our director, an adequate interim step. We were fortunate to locate an accomplished accompanist, Judy Janecke, who is still with us today, but under another name—Judy Kabodian. Of the singers who were added to the group, two remain today—Lois Brennan and Mary James. We held our concerts in the Martin Luther chapel.
But we soon knew that we had to find a more permanent solution if we were to grow and prosper. Louise mentioned her brother-in-law, a professor of music at MSU as a possibility. As it turned out, Dale Bartlett, the brother-in-law, was the answer to all our hopes and dreams.
In the early years we thought we had to entice people to come to our concerts, so we provided a dinner before we sang. This eventually evolved into the treats we provide after our winter concert.
To add to our singing enjoyment, we started singing Christmas Carols around the community. Dottie became our person making those arrangements. Also, we would end our season with a concert at Burcham Hills Retirement Center.
We moved our performances to the University Lutheran Church partly because of the acoustics and partly because Dale had been the choir director there and a former minister, Jim Kocher and his wife Jean, were now members of the Chorale. We are still there.
To add interest to our concerts, we added instrumental performers. One of the first was harpist, Ellen Grafius. She thought so much of our singing, she joined us as an alto.
In 1995, I retired from work and the managerial duties, so Kathy Ballard assumed the role of manager. By that time, we had incorporated, making it possible to receive tax-deductible contributions. Bob Ward is our treasurer, Barbara Fuller our librarian, and Lois Brennan our secretary. Mary James has been our official greeter and announcement maker at the concerts.
After my retirement, I got back into writing music. I swell with pride when the Arts Chorale performs my arrangements.
Occasionally, I look back over the past quarter century and ponder the growth of the Chorale both in numbers—we are now well over fifty—and musically—we are really good! The Arts Chorale has continued to be a very rewarding part of my life.