80 Years Young
The Heritage Chorale celebrates its 80th season in 2016-2017. Originally named the Framingham Choral Society, the Chorale was founded in the fall of 1937 by a small group of Framingham residents on a budget of $62! Except for a brief time during World War II, the Chorale has rehearsed and performed in Framingham and nearby communities ever since. The size of the Chorale has fluctuated from a group of 40 to our present membership of about 100. Though much has changed over the past eight decades, our resolve to enrich ourselves and the community with song remains strong.
During its long history, the Chorale has performed a wide range of both classical and contemporary choral works. In its earliest seasons, annual productions of the Messiah were performed to sell-out audiences. Most recently, the Chorale has performed works of contemporary composers Daniel Pinkham, Morten Lauridsen, and Randall Thompson, as well as Mozart, Haydn, and Brahms.
In February, 1988, the Chorale added a Pops-style concert to its season. We have delighted in presenting lighter musical fare, often designed around themes and with popular pieces from opera, movies, and musical theater.
In 2015, the Chorale collaborated with Monroe Crossing, one of America's finest Bluegrass bands, to present The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass by Carol Barnett. Later in the same year, the Chorale presented Rutter’s rarely-heard Mass of the Children in collaboration with VOICES Boston, the superb children’s chorus that frequently performs with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Our Shakespeare and Friends program in 2016 was a collaboration with the Handel and Haydn Society’s Young Women’s Chorus (YWC), directed by Alyson Greer. The Chorale also has collaborated with area symphonic groups to perform major works, including Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 and Brahms’ A German Requiem with the New Philharmonia Orchestra, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Wellesley Symphony Orchestra, and Mendelssohn's Lobgesang with the Boston College Symphony Orchestra.
In July, 2010, the Chorale traveled on its first concert tour and performed in the European capitals of Vienna, Austria and Prague, Czech Republic, as well as at Melk Abbey. This was followed in the summer of 2012 by a tour to Canada, where we were privileged to bring our music to Montréal and Québec City. Most recently, from June 29 to July 6, 2015, the Chorale toured Ireland with concerts in Galway, Derry, and Dublin.
2011 marked the 75th anniversary of the Heritage Chorale. We looked back over the decades to the year when US Steel raised workers’ wages to $5 a day, Margaret Mitchell won the Pulitzer Prize for Gone with the Wind, Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan disappeared over the Pacific, the Red Sox acquired the contract of 19-year-old Ted Williams, and Dr. Edward Gilday founded the Framingham Choral Society, now known as the Heritage Chorale. Then we looked forward to three exciting concerts and special 75th anniversary events to celebrate being 75 years young.
The Fall Concert featured Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang, in collaboration with Boston College’s Symphony Orchestra. The Pops Diamond Jubilee Concert presented hit songs from the Chorale's anniversary years: 1937, 1962, 1987 and 2012. The Spring Concert presented a performance of Carl Orff’s much-loved Carmina Burana, accompanied by a small professional ensemble of piano and percussion. In addition, Chorale members attended a choral workshop in October and an end-of-the-year social event in May with a concert tour to Montreal and Quebec to culminate a very special anniversary season.
The Chorale’s history has been one of outstanding directors. Much of the Heritage Chorale’s recent success has come thanks to the high standards set by current Music Director John Finney, who has led the Chorale since 1987.
1938 – 1957; 1958 – 1964
Dr. Edward Gilday, founder
1957 – 1958; 1964 – 1966
1966 – 1973
1973 – 1974
1974 – 1983; 1984 – 1985
1985 – 1987
1983 – 1984; 1987 – present