The Fox Valley Festival Chorus has been providing musical entertainment in the area since 1950. In addition to our two annual concerts, the Chorus performs at a number of different venues including music festivals, chamber of commerce events, community functions, Kane County Cougar games, holiday shows, Christmas parties, shopping malls, historical venues, churches, and retirement/nursing homes.
The Fox Valley Festival Chorus is dedicated to serving our community by enhancing the cultural life of our region. We provide an opportunity for singers to build their performance skills and musical knowledge. The community, in return, receives choral concerts of musical excellence from a variety of genres appealing to a wide range of audiences.
History of the Chorus
The Fox Valley Festival Chorus is Chicagoland's original community chorus. Today, under the direction of Mary Beth McCarthy, the Chorus is a large vital group of more than 60 singers who come from throughout the Fox Valley area, and perform throughout the year. But it wasn’t always that way ...
The Chorus' earliest roots spring from a 1949 Barber-Greene Christmas party. For this event, a handful of company employees banded to form a choral group, and liked the experience so much they decided to create a permanent ensemble. After soliciting a sponsorship from The Barber-Greene Athletic Association, 22 women and 13 men began weekly rehearsals in March 1950 under the direction of Helen Erickson, originally calling themselves The Barber-Greene Mixed Chorus. By the following August, the chorus settled on The Barber-Greene Choraliers as their moniker.
By 1958, The B-G Choraliers disappeared from the company's newsletter, and our archives do not record any further activity until 1960 when Sten Halfvarson allied the remnants of the group as the Aurora Festival Chorus to work in conjunction with the Fox River Valley Symphony Orchestra. The Aurora Festival Chorus became an independent entity when the Fox Valley Park District opted to sponsor the group in 1964. In 1980, the name was changed to the Fox Valley Festival Chorus to reflect the fact that many members were joining from the entire Fox Valley region.
Chorus membership dwindled over the years until by 1998, there were less than a dozen regular members. It was in that year that Mary Beth McCarthy became the director of the Fox Valley Festival Chorus. Under McCarthy’s direction the Fox Valley Festival Chorus has grown to over 60 voices, and is an independent 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization. The group continues to sing a wide variety of music from classical to pop. Members of the group come from the entire Fox Valley region and range in age from high school students to retirees. Some members of the group have had past experience in opera companies, musical theatre, choral groups, and church choirs. Others participate simply because they enjoy singing.
The Chorus continues to perform two main concerts a year, a Holiday Concert and a Spring Concert.
The late Peter Mitchell, a Geneva composer and resident, had ties to the Chorus for several years as an audience member as well as composer of patriotic works the group has performed. Peter once said of the group,
"The Fox Valley Festival Chorus is arguably the finest mixed-voice chorus in all of Chicagoland, as evidenced by the invitations it has received recently to perform in New York's famed Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. Their recordings have been largely responsible for my music being performed by choral groups outside this area and in Europe."
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