Richard Sowers, new Director of the Louisville Chorus, brings enthusiasm and a sense of humor to his position. Photo by Paul Moffett

The Louisville Chorus

By Paul Moffett

Richard Sowers, the new conductor of the Louisville Chorus, says that his real job is to convert his audiences and chorus members into fanatics who love choral music. If the enthusiasm that he brings to his discussions of the chorus is any indication of his likely success, he should have no trouble with his self-designated task.

The Louisville native and current professor of music at Lindsey Wilson College is replacing Richard Spaulding, who has been conductor for the Louisville Chorus for the last twenty years. Sowers acknowledges a debt to both Spaulding and the late U of L professor Nelson Keyes, but he is now planning to take the chorus in a new direction, filling a niche in the local musical scene that is flanked on the one side by the Bach Society, run by Melvin Dickinson, and on the other by barbershop groups such as the Thoroughbreds and the Sweet Adelines.

The Louisville Chorus began in 1939 as a men's ensemble, founded by Father Joe Emerick. Originally called the Holy Name Choral Club, it was opened up to women after World War II and lost its religious connection, becoming simply the Louisville Chorus. Sowers points out that the image of choral music is that of massive church choirs such as the Morman Tabernacle Choir, singing Handel's "Messiah," but that in fact the choral tradition is primarily secular with a great deal of music written in the twentieth century. It is this music that is seldom, if ever, heard in the Louisville area, and it is this music that he argues is what will serve to draw a devoted audience to the performances of the Louisville Chorus.

The theme of the next concert by the chorus illustrates Sowers' assertion. Set for June 10 and 11, the concert, entitled "The Romantics/Songs Through Time," will be of secular songs from the fifteenth to the twentieth century, examining romantic love in all its various aspects. Beginning with the Italian romantics, the material ranges through French, German, and British songs to songs by Louisville native Clifford Shaw, folk artist John Jacob Niles and such romantic Hollywood tunes as "Singing in the Rain," and Richard Rogers' "Some Enchanted Evening." The Saturday concert will be held at the North Recital Hall, School of Music, University of Louisville, at 8:00 p.m. The Sunday concert will be held at Presbyterian Seminary Chapel at 3:00 p.m. Tickets for either event are $7.00 for adults and $5.00 for children.

Beginning with the opening concert of the 1989 Fall season, the celebratory theme will be emphasized. The Fiftieth Anniversary Celebration will feature by Louisa Talma "Let's Touch The Sky," Randal Thompson's "Testament Of Freedom," based on the writings of Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, and Stravinsky's Mass. The December concert will be A Candlelight Christmas Celebration; March will see a Folk Song Celebration, and on April Fool's Day, Sowers will introduce his Last Annual PDQ Bach Celebration. All concerts will be held in the Bomhard Theater, Kentucky Center for the Arts.

Sowers, a graduate of the University of Louisville School of Music, is clearly not afraid of stepping outside the bounds of strict academics in his choice of music, having spent some time earning money performing standard pop and rock tunes on guitar in various bars and lounges around Louisville. He is searching for additional singers for the chorus, particularly male singers, as he would like to have a one-hundred-voice choir. Sowers pointed out that Louisville has a great pool of talented musicians and singers who, for one reason or the other, are no longer performing, and it is these people he would like to attract to the chorus.

Persons interested in more information about the Louisville Chorus can call 499-1932, or write:

The Louisville Chorus

4302 Wyola Court

Louisville, KY 40218