The Milwaukee Choristers, Inc., seeks to provide for its members and the public a rich and diverse musical experience that is anchored in the best of the choral repertory, and aspires to a consistent level of performance that represents the finest of the choral art.
We have distinguished ourselves as one of Milwaukee’s most versatile and popular vocal groups for 80 years.
We began in November, 1933 when a group of nearly 20 graduates of Milwaukee’s Riverside High School A Cappella Choir decided to meet, rehearse and, if possible, perform. With our high school conductor, Ellen Sargeant, on the podium, the dream was fulfilled and the rest is history.
In our eight decades of existence, the Choristers have had only seven conductors: Ellen Sargeant, Dorothy Royt, Donald Mohr, Roger Tweiten, Mark Aamot and B.H. Diekhoff. Currently, the choir is led by Dr. James B. Kinchen, Jr. of Sturtevant, WI, who was selected as the group’s Music Director in 1993. Dr. Kinchen is a member of the faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.
- On Sunday, Nov. 19, 1933 at 2:30 p.m. a group of Riverside High School alumni — all of whom had sung in the school’s A Cappella Choir — gathered at Plymouth Church to form a new community chorus. They performed publicly for the first time on March 4, 1934 as the Riverside High School Alumni Chorus.
- In 1937 the group was renamed the Milwaukee A Capella Choristers.
- In 1938 we were invited to sing at the St. Louis convention of the National Music Educators Association.
- On August 28, 1948 a group of Choristers, led by member and attorney Edward Ramsey, signed papers to incorporate the group for the first time under the name “The Milwaukee A Cappella Choristers, Inc.”
- In 1964 we performed in the Wisconsin pavilion at the World’s Fair in New York City.
- On Oct. 7, 1970 we officially changed our name to “The Milwaukee Choristers, Inc.”
- In 1983 to celebrate our 50th anniversary, we commissioned and presented the world premiere of a choral work, “Olives of Endless Age,” by former Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Conductor Kenneth Schermerhorn.
- In 1984 we were selected, in nationwide competition, to sing for the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in Washington, D.C., the first and only Wisconsin chorus ever so honored.
- In 1988 nearly 60 Choristers journeyed to England, Scotland and Wales for a concert tour.
- In 1989 we presented the first full-scale Milwaukee performance of John Rutter’s “Requiem.”
- In 1992 we sang by invitation for the Wisconsin Choral Directors Association (WCDA) meeting in Fond du Lac, WI. The Choristers made several such appearances in the following years: 1996 (Eau Claire), 1999 (Madison) and 2003 (Oshkosh).
- In 1994 nearly 50 singers took part in a concert tour to Germany, Austria, Poland and The Czech Republic.
- In 1996 we were guest performers in a Milwaukee concert presented by The Salvation Army Hendon Citadel Band from London, England, which was on a concert tour of the United States.
- In 1999 more than 40 singers joined in a concert tour of Italy that included a performance at a Sunday liturgy at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
- In 2006 we sponsored a Milwaukee appearance by, and joined voices with, the world-renowned King’s Singers at the Pabst Theater.
- In 2008 we commissioned three pieces of original choral music from three African American composers — Robert Harris of Northwestern University, Robert Morris of Minneapolis, and Milwaukee native Judith Baity, now living in California. The pieces were based on texts taken from poetry of the Harlem Renaissance period of the 1920s. The Choristers premiered these pieces as the centerpiece of a special concert on October 18 in collaboration with the Brazeal Dennard Chorale of Detroit. We later traveled to Detroit to present the program there with the Brazeal Dennard Chorale.
- In 2010 and 2012 we collaborated with the Decorah Chorale of Decorah, Iowa (home of Luther College) for performances in Milwaukee and Decorah.
- In 2014 we released our fourth commercially-produced CD, 80 – Eight Decades of Song!, in celebration of our 80th anniversary. We paid for the production with proceeds from a successful online crowdfunding campaign.
- In 2016 two dozen Choristers visited Havana, Cienfuegos and Trinidad, Cuba to perform, attend workshops and experience the culture.