South Holland Master Chorale welcomes new Music Director

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South Holland Master Chorale begins its 2022-23 season with a new Music Director.

Conductor Philip J. Bauman assumed the role after Albert M. Jackson retired after 23 years.

“I’ve always been involved in vocal music in one way or another, working with choirs or with certain opera companies that I’ve worked with in the past, so I’ve always had an affinity for voice,” said Bauman, a longtime resident of Bolingbrook, Illinois, who now lives in South Bend, Indiana.

“I love working with singers and singers. I know it’s a great choir and an exceptional choir, so when the position opened up I was curious to see where it might go.

South Holland Master Chorale opens its season with Songs of Celebration Oct. 2 at First Reformed Church in South Holland, Illinois; and Oct. 16 at St. Thomas More Church in Munster, Indiana; under the direction of Bauman and longtime accompanist Marilyn Bourgeois from Frankfurt.

“We celebrate things as timely as today’s headlines, like the coronation, so we sing a coronation hymn. We sing selections that could be at a wedding. We celebrate patriotism and biblical leaders,” he said.

“I wanted to have a variety of things that celebrate life and the times we find ourselves using song to express ourselves.”

Tracks include the coronation anthem “Let Thy Hand Be Strengthened” by George Frideric Handel, “Simple Gifts” by Aaron Copland, a medley of Armed Forces songs called “American Heroes” arranged by Carl Strommen and “Total Praise” by Richard Smallwood.

The fall concert also includes “Lift Every Voice and Sing” arranged by Heather Sorenson, which Bauman says celebrates the African-American voice, and “The Last Seven Words of David” by Randall Thompson.

“There are several songs where they will be asked to join us. There is some audience participation,” Bauman said.

“John Rutter’s ‘The Lord Bless You and Keep You’ is a beautiful piece that uses the voice extremely well. I hope when the audience hears this and where it is placed in the concert, they will feel blessed with what we have presented to them.

When he was Music Director of the La Porte County Symphony Orchestra in Indiana, Bauman collaborated with Jackson and the South Holland Master Chorale for performances of Ludwig van Beethoven’s 2007 Symphony No. Carmina Burana” by Carl Orff in 2008.

The latter is what Bauman, who is also Music Director and Conductor of Michigan City Messiah in Indiana and Production Manager of the South Bend Symphony Orchestra in Indiana, cited as one of his major accomplishments.

“It was a glorious celebration. It was such a challenge to take on,” he said.

“Everyone walked away from this being so proud of the achievement and those hiding behind the scenes know how difficult it was to make this happen. We congratulated each other all around for that one, so that moment has always stuck in my mind.

The choir has over 100 members, including Illinois residents of Beecher, Blue Island, Bourbonnais, Calumet City, Chicago, Chicago Heights, Country Club Hills, Crete, Dolton, Flossmoor, Frankfort, Hazel Crest, Homewood, Kankakee, Lansing, Lynwood, Matteson, Manteno, Mokena and Oak Park.

Illinois members of Olympia Fields, Orland Park, Park Forest, River Forest, South Holland, Thornton and Tinley Park and Indiana members of Cedar Lake, Chesterton, Dyer, Griffith, Hammond, La Porte, Munster, St John, South Bend, Schererville and Valparaiso are also part of the choir.

“I am struck by their passion and dedication,” Bauman said.

“They deliver great results with every rep, which is rewarding, so I like getting to know them. Their dedication and musicality are quite remarkable.

The South Holland Master Chorale’s 2022-2023 4 p.m. concert season continues with Hymns of Praise on Nov. 20 at the Parish of Ss. Joseph, Anne, and Emeric, 17951 Dixie Highway, Homewood, Illinois; where newcomers are welcome at 7 p.m. on Mondays for rehearsals.

The Music of Living on May 14, 2023, at St. Maria Goretti, 500 Northgate Drive, Dyer, Indiana; and May 21, 2023, at St. John the Evangelist Parish, 10701 Olcott Ave., St. John, Indiana; end the season.

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“I definitely want to keep alive the tradition of singing great choral music,” Bauman said.

“One of my main goals is to bring in younger voices. We’re always looking for new voices.

Party songs

When or: 4 p.m. Oct. 2 at First Reformed Church, 15924 South Park Ave., South Holland, Illinois; 4:00 p.m. Oct. 16 at St. Thomas More Church, 8501 Calumet Ave., Munster, Indiana

Tickets: free

Information: 708-210-2913; southhollandmasterchorale.org

Jessi Virtusio is a freelance journalist for the Daily Southtown.

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