For nine generations Chautauquans have been gathering in the Amphitheater on Sunday mornings and evenings to join the Chautauqua Community Choir for Sunday Morning Worship at 10:45 a.m. and the evening Sacred Song Services.
Cast in a vesper format at the close of the day and bookended by the beloved hymns “Day Is Dying in the West” and “Now the Day Is Over,” the Sacred Song Services combine the musical gifts of Chautauqua’s large singing congregation with the voices of Chautauqua Choir, supported by the famous 5,640 pipe Massey Memorial Organ.
Since 1907, every Sacred Song Service has closed with the playing of “Largo” from George Frederick Handel’s opera Xerxes, a beloved custom which has been a vital part of the Chautauqua Experience for many, many people over the years. Services begin at 8 p.m. and last approximately one hour.
The Chautauqua Sunday Community Choir has been a part of the Institution’s life for many generations, providing a musical and spiritual dimension to the worship services each Sunday morning and evening in the Amphitheater. Approximately 125 individuals participate in the choir each Sunday throughout the Season, singing the finest quality of sacred music from the past as well as a diversity of styles from the present. Joshua Stafford is the Chautauqua Institution Organist and Choir Director.
While no audition is required for this choir, it is expected that an individual will have some previous experience singing in a choral group. In order to participate in the choir, singers must attend two of the three rehearsals on Thursday, Friday or Saturday evenings from 6–7:45 p.m. prior to that respective Sunday, as well as the pre-service warmups on Sundays. A gate pass for those who live off the grounds is issued to attend rehearsals. The gate pass is then valid for admission to events in the Amphitheater that evening. There is no fee charged to sing in the choir, and music is provided.
The Motet Choir is comprised of experienced auditioned singers who rehearse and perform a variety of works from the rich heritage of sacred choral music of the past and a diversity of styles from the present. Singers must have a background of solo or choral singing experience with excellent vocal quality and sight-reading ability. A commitment of a minimum of two weeks is required. Weekday rehearsals and religious services are 8:15–10 a.m. An additional Tuesday evening rehearsal is scheduled for Motet Choir. Motet singers are expected to fully participate in the Chautauqua Sunday Community Choir (see Chautauqua Choir, above), which requires attendance at two of three rehearsals on Thursday, Friday or Saturday evenings from 6–7:45 p.m., and singing for both the Sunday morning and evening services.
Qualified singers receive a free gate pass for the weeks that they sing in the choir. Interested singers should call the Chautauqua Choir office (716-357-6321) during the summer season to learn more about Motet Choir and to schedule an audition for the 2024 summer season.
For more information, contact: