Grinnell Oratorio Society Singers Share the Joy of Choral Music

August 28, 2017

In rehearsals for upcoming Nov. 2017 performance

In August, the Grinnell Oratorio Society began rehearsals for a November performance of the "Mass for Troubled Times" by F. J. Haydn, and "To the Hands" by Caroline Shaw, with a professional orchestra and soloists.

The performance will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 19, in Sebring-Lewis Hall and will be free and open to the public.

The chorus does not require an audition and is open to all — community members and Grinnell students, faculty and staff. Rehearsals are held from 7-9 p.m. Mondays at Sebring-Lewis Hall in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts.

For more information, email John Rommereim, director of the Oratorio Society and Blanche Johnson Professor of Music at Grinnell College.

John Rommereim
"These two works are both a joy to perform," Rommereim says about the upcoming performance. "The Haydn is filled with drama, and it really gives the choir a chance to shine as an equal partner with the orchestra.

"Caroline Shaw, the composer of the other work on the program, 'To the Hands,' is the youngest composer to have been awarded the Pulitzer Prize in music," he adds. "Written just last year, her piece has to do with the refugee crisis and the issue of homelessness. In addition to our work preparing this music, the Oratorio Society will pursue a fundraising project that aims at addressing these issues."

Originally founded in 1901, the Grinnell Oratorio Society was, in the early decades of the 20th Century, one of Iowa's most auspicious musical institutions. Edward Scheve (1865-1924), a composer of symphonies, concertos, oratorios and chamber music, established the choir as an outgrowth of the music conservatory that was then part of Grinnell College.

In 2010, the Grinnell Community Chorus was renamed the Grinnell Oratorio Society as a way to draw attention to this proud history. The choir draws together students, faculty and staff of the college, people from the town of Grinnell, and nearby communities such as Newton and Malcolm.