The Neponset Choral Society exists to promote and encourage the performance of choral music through the presentation of performances of worthwhile musical literature. NCS welcomes and encourages diversity in its membership.
HISTORY OF THE NEPONSET CHORAL SOCIETY
The Neponset Choral Society, originally known as the Bird Club Chorus, was founded in 1949 by Leonard Weaver, an engineer at Bird & Sons in Walpole. Eventually it opened membership to all Walpole singers and, as the Neponset Choral Society, presented its first concert in March of 1950. Two years later, NCS presented its first Gilbert and Sullivan operetta "The Mikado," and in 1954 performed its first major oratorio, "Elijah." In 1974, its 25th anniversary year, NCS became incorporated, with a formal Board of Directors to oversee the organization. In 1975 NCS performed "Brigadoon," its first Broadway musical, and began presenting both a classical concert and a staged musical each year, a format that continued until 1991, when the group returned to an all-choral format. Since then NCS has presented a holiday concert in December, a thematic concert in early spring, and, at times, a pops-style concert or cabaret in the late spring.
In 1983, after 34 years with the group, Weaver stepped down as Music Director. His assistant, Richard Travers, assumed the position of Music Director for one year. In 1984, Victoria Wagner became the Music Director, a position she held until 1988. Catherine Connor-Moen was the Artistic Director from 1989 until June 2000. Rachel Samet served as Artistic Director from 2001-2003. Michael Turner was named the Society's new Music Director in the Summer of 2003 following Ms. Samet's departure to pursue a doctorate.
In 2013, following Mr. Turner's departure to concentrate on other professional, musical and family commitments, Christopher Martin was hired as Music Director.
ARTISTIC DIRECTOR AND ASSISTANT MUSICAL DIRECTOR
Christopher Martin, Artistic Director of the Neponset Choral Society, holds a Master’s Degree in Music Education (magna cum laude) and a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education and Vocal Performance (cum laude) from Ithaca College. Christopher is currently in his ninth year as choral director for the Coakley Middle School in Norwood, MA where his responsibilities include teaching 450 young musicians within five curricular choruses, as well as an auditioned Honor Chorus, Women’s Chorus and Men’s Chorus. His ensembles have had the honor of receiving high ratings at both the MICCA and Great East Festivals. Christopher was previously a faculty member of the Handel & Haydn Society’s Vocal Apprenticeship Program, where he taught music theory and ear training to students in grades 4-12. As a soloist, Christopher has performed with the Mystic Chorale under the direction of Nick Page, and the Neponset Choral Society, under the direction of Michael Turner.
Christopher is an active member of the American Choral Director’s Association, Music Educator’s National Conference, as well as the Massachusetts’ Music Educator’s Association where he served as the All-State Chorus Assistant and Manager from 2009-2011 and is currently serving as Assistant Concert Manager for the 2014 All-State Conference. Christopher is also a member of the Massachusetts Instrumental and Choral Conductor’s Association’s executive board, serving as the Assistant Choral Festival Chairperson. When not in the classroom or performing, Christopher enjoys teaching his private studio of voice students.
Assistant Musical Director for NCS since 1989, Linda Jiorle-Nagy teaches at Boston University and Brown University. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Douglass College of Rutgers University, graduating with Honors in Music. She earned her Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in Piano Performance from Boston University College for the Arts, where she received Honors in Piano.
Auditions are for new members and members who did not sing with NCS during the last year. These five-minute auditions, conducted privately by the Director, are very low-key and require no prior preparation by the singer. Auditions may include singing scales and singing a familiar song. While the ability to read music is helpful, it is not required for membership. Regular “re-auditions" will occur to enable the Director to be re-familiarized with voices.
YOUNG ARTISTS PERFORMANCE PROGRAM
The Young Artists Performance Program offers the serious high school or college choral singer the opportunity to perform major choral repertoire not often possible within a school setting. NCS invites students to audition to participate with NCS for a nominal fee. Aside from the scholarship, YAPP members participate in the same way as all the other members, attending rehearsals and performances, adhering to the guidelines mentioned in this booklet, etc. Questions about the YAPP program should be directed to the YAPP Liaison.
REHEARSAL PERIOD, BREAKS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
Rehearsals take place at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Foxboro every Monday night (including some holidays) and occasional Friday nights for each concert preparation period. Members will receive a rehearsal schedule at the first rehearsal of each preparation period.
Rehearsals start promptly at 7:30 PM and run until 10:00 PM, with a 15-minute break. NCS is responsible for setting up and storing chairs for each rehearsal. Therefore, members should arrive a few minutes early to help set up, and should return all chairs to storage after rehearsal. Restrooms are available downstairs.
NOTE: Occasionally, when other groups are meeting in the church building, NCS chorus members may be asked to use specified areas for rehearsal and for parking.
In order to make rehearsals most productive, singers should keep talking to a minimum, and should let Section Leaders know of any questions about the material covered in the rehearsal. Members are expected to bring all music and a pencil (with an eraser!) to every rehearsal. Only water bottles are permitted in the chancel; we may use the kitchen area downstairs for food and other beverages. Because some NCS members have allergies to certain fragrances, please do not wear scented products to any rehearsal or concert.
Attendance at all rehearsals is essential for the best performance possible. Section Leaders record attendance at each rehearsal. Members with a planned absence should notify their Section Leaders in advance. Members with a contagious illness are advised to stay home and contact their Section Leaders for rehearsal notes. Members who are unable to sing at rehearsal for other reasons should still sit with their sections and mark their music.
The Section Leader will speak with any member – and with the Director – when that member seems unable to sing in a concert because she or he has missed a significant number of rehearsals.
Attendance at all dress rehearsals and performances is mandatory.
To protect each person's privacy, members may not share, distribute, and/or use NCS member lists of mailing and email addresses or phone numbers for anything other than NCS purposes. Information is provided to members to allow for contact within the group.
Members may inform the group of any artistic or musical performances via email or flyers and a brief announcement at rehearsal. Further information can be obtained independently. Any email sent to the entire group should have some connection to the goals and activities of NCS.
CANCELLATION OF REHEARSALS / CONCERTS
Rehearsals and concerts are rarely cancelled due to inclement weather. In instances where travel is potentially dangerous, however, please click on the Members button on the NCS web page at www.ncschorus.org. You may also contact any Board Member for this information. Names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses of Board Members will be provided at the first rehearsal of each concert, and can be found on the NCS Board of Directors page.
DUES, PERFORMANCE FEES, AND MUSIC COSTS
The Neponset Choral Society is sustained by funding from various sources, including private donations, concert ticket sales, paid ads in our concert program booklets, membership dues and performance fees. NCS also receives some funding from the Arts Lottery Councils from the various towns in our area. Under the Young Artists Performance Program, NCS will pay all but $25 for music, chorus membership, and concert fees.
Membership dues cover the performance season, beginning in September and ending in August of the next calendar year. Dues ($30) are paid once per year and entitle members to sing with NCS, vote on issues, attend monthly board meetings, and attend and vote at the annual meeting in June.
A performance fee ($40 for adults and $25 for non-YAPP students) for each concert is payable no later than the third rehearsal of each concert preparation period.
Members must purchase music no later than the third rehearsal of each concert preparation period. Unless otherwise noted, all members will be required to use the same edition to ensure uniformity. Music on loan from the NCS library must be returned unmarked and in good condition. Rehearsal tapes or CDs, when available, are optional and typically cost $1-3.
Dues, performance fees, and music fees are non-refundable after the third rehearsal. Any music returned by the third rehearsal should be unmarked and in original condition. Payment arrangements are available if needed.
PROGRAM ADS AND DONATIONS
A primary source of funding for NCS is local merchant advertising in our program booklets. This is an excellent way for merchants to promote their businesses as well as support the arts in this area. These ads help defray the cost of publicity materials such as posters, advertisements, and the program booklet itself. Each chorus member should make the effort to sell as many ads as possible and to obtain and/or make donations.
Ticket sales provide the largest percentage of income for the NCS operating budget. Without ticket income we could not continue to offer the public a full season of quality musical performances. Performing before a full audience is also a most rewarding experience! All members are encouraged to sell at least five tickets to each concert in which they will perform.
Because some NCS members have allergies to certain fragrances, please do not wear scented products to any rehearsal or concert.
FORMAL CONCERT DRESS
WOMEN: Ankle-length black skirt and black long-sleeved blouse or ankle-length, long-sleeved black dress (three-quarter length sleeves are permissible), dark hose, black shoes or sneakers. Small, tasteful jewelry is permitted.
MEN: Black tux or suit, white shirt, black bow tie, dark socks, black shoes or sneakers. Small, tasteful jewelry is permitted.
INFORMAL CONCERT DRESS (when specified by the Director)
WOMEN: Black pants, white short-sleeved blouse, dark hose, black shoes or sneakers. Small, tasteful jewelry is permitted.
MEN: Black pants, white short-sleeved shirt with collar, black bow tie, dark socks, black shoes or sneakers.
Small, tasteful jewelry is permitted.
Concert dress will not normally be required for dress rehearsals.
Members whose dress does not conform to the dress policy will not be permitted to perform. Questions regarding attire will be answered by the Section Leaders.
Music must be held in black folders for all concerts.
During performances there will not be a secured area in which to place purses or other valuables. Please make your own arrangements to secure these items.
The Section Leaders will act as liaisons between the Director and the members of the chorus for rehearsal, music-related, concert-related, and attendance issues. Section Leaders assume this role in order to keep rehearsals fluid and moving forward, and to maintain a sense of consistency within the sections. Section Leaders take careful notes of what occurs in rehearsal and keep contact with the Director so they can answer specific questions from members about the music, such as breath markings, pronunciation, etc. They are responsible for helping members of their sections acquire appropriate rehearsal aids.
Section Leaders will be the liaisons between the Director and the members of the chorus for concert-related issues. Questions pertaining to concert dates, times, call-times, dress policy, directions to concert sites, etc. should be directed to Section Leaders, not to the Director.
Section Leaders are also responsible for taking attendance. If members must miss rehearsal for any reason, they should contact their Section Leaders ahead of time if possible. They should also contact their Section Leaders after the missed rehearsal in order to find out any markings and other pertinent information. The Section Leader will speak with any member – and with the Director – when that member seems unable to sing in a concert because she or he has missed a significant number of rehearsals.
The policies outlined in this manual were created to set a high standard of quality and commitment to choral performance through visual and procedural uniformity. The Director reserves the right to interpret any of the policies as they pertain to concert preparation and performance. Every effort will be made to provide members with advance notification should any changes become necessary.