The Morris Choral Society has a twofold purpose: To make available to all residents of the Morris area varied choral musical programs and to give residents an opportunity to perform in the choral organization. We accept new members to the society by audition in September and in January, and welcome the opportunity to perform for any local organization. We hope that the community will continue to feel as personal an identification with us as we feel with the community we serve.
Michael Shane Wittenburg
Hailed as a “real virtuoso” by the late Ruth Laredo, conductor and pianist Michael ShaneWittenburg made his European debut with the Romanian National Theater of Opera and Ballet “Oleg Danovski” conducting Puccini’s Turandot. He has been active with many companies in the greater NYC area, including the New Jersey Association of Verismo Opera, the Hudson Valley Chorale, and the Morris Choral Society where he has only recently become the Music Director. He has been an assistant conductor and vocal coach at opera companies in Nashville, Orlando, and Sarasota. While at Nashville Opera, he directed 66 performances of the world premiere children’s opera, The Ugly Duckling by Andrew Duncan. Currently he is the Music Director of the Elite Academy for Strings in NJ, where he conducts the Elite Academy Chamber Orchestra which received Third Prize in The American Prize competition for best youth orchestra.He has been a faculty member of the Heifetz International Music Institute, was the interim Conductor of the Chattanooga Symphony Youth Orchestra, and has appeared in collaborative recital with such artists as Metropolitan Opera soprano Stella Zambalis, violinist Livia Sohn, and Orpheus Ensemble oboist Gerard Reuter. A graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy, Mr. Wittenburg’s training includes Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Piano Performance from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, and a Master’s degree in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. His teachers include Henry Charles Smith, David Effron, Dr. Steven Bird, and Michael Jinbo at the renowned Pierre Monteux School for Conductors and Orchestral Musicians. In The American Prize competition he was awarded Third Prize in youth orchestra conducting, and was a Finalist in the professional opera category.
RepertoireSince its inception, the Morris Choral Society, (MCS) has developed a vast and varied repertoire, including many major works.ln addition to the established repertoire, the Society is also committed to the performance of new works, and over the last few years, several newly published compositions have been dedicated to the Morris Choral Society. ln 1980, the Society was proud to commission its first major work - a setting of the Gloria, by the renowned American composer Kevin Norris.As evidence of its dedication to growth, the MCS has consistently demonstrated its versatility by excelling in a wide range of contemporary music styles and expanding its venue of performances to such places as the Community Theatre in Morristown. Examples of the group's versatility include international folk songs sung in their native languages, American folk music, the Broadway theatre, and an impressive list of serious choral music from the Renaissance to the present with several premier performances, and a wide range of sacred music.Funding has been made possible in part by the Arts Council of the Morris Area through the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funding has also been provided by the Arts Council of the Morris Area/Dodge Foundation Partnership and by the Masterwork Music and Art Foundation.
History of the Morris Choral SocietyIn 1972 fire destroyed the United Methodist Church on the Green in Morristown, and for the next two years the Methodist congregation held its services in the sanctuary of Temple B'nai Or. As the new Methodist Church neared completion, R. Wayne Walters, the bass soloist at both the Methodist Church and at Temple B'nai Or, composed a setting of the Friday Evening Service, Shabbat Hodaah, and dedicated it to the B'nai Or congregation and Rabbi Z. David Levy. To perform the work, a chorus was assembled made up of choir members from area churches. The performance was such a success that in the spring of 1973, Rabbi Levy asked Walters to reassemble the group and perform a concert of Russian and Israeli folk music for the 25th Anniversary of the State of Israel. The resounding success of this event caused several of the singers to suggest that the group remain together under Walters' leadership. In the summer of 1973 the Morris Choral Society (MCS) was incorporated, and it performed for the first time that December. Since its founding the ecumenical Society has made significant contributions to the local choral scene and throughout the Northern New Jersey area as well as appearing on NBC television's "First Estate" program. Its concert year, in general, includes two major concerts in and about Morris County. It has also served the Community through appearances at many of Morristown's annual celebrations of Independence Day, the historical Holly Walk, its popular Fall Festival On the Green, and most recently First Night. The Society has received international recognition performing successful concerts in England in 1990, Ireland in 1994, Scotland and Wales in 1996, France in 1998 and Italy in the summer of 2000. Also MCS has been represented by "ambassadorial" choral contingents in multi-choral units in Eastern Europe in 1997 and 2000. In the process the Society has assembled a vast and varied musical repertoire, the cornerstone of which is an impressive list of serious music from the Renaissance to the present. MCS has participated in a number of particularly exciting events. It performed with Judy Collins in her Christmas Show; and with Dave Brubeck in La Fiesta de la Posada, at the Community Theatre. Another highlight was singing the Beethoven Ninth (Choral) Symphony and Bloch's Sacred Service under Leon Hyman with the New NJ Philharmonic. Several collaborations with Jazz Pianist Rio Clemente and Friends have been popular as well. A Gershwin concert at the Morristown Community Theatre was sung to a sold-out audience of enthusiastic listeners. As stated, MCS touring ensembles have performed in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France, Italy, Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic, at premier churches and municipal sites. Especially moving were appreciations expressed to all Americans by municipal officials at two Morris Choral Society concerts in Caen, France, on the 50th Anniversary of D-Day liberations. Funding has been made possible in part by the Arts Council of the Morris Area through the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funding has also been provided by the Arts Council of the Morris Area/Dodge Foundation Partnership.
R. WAYNE WALTERS is a well-known New Jersey musician who sings, composes, and conducts in the Morris area and beyond.Mr. Walters was the founder, conductor, and music director of the Morris Choral Society of Morristown, New Jersey, now in its 43rd year. The chorus performs locally throughout the concert season and has toured England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France, Italy, The Czech Republic, and Poland. In December of 2005 and again in 2006 Mr. Walters was selected as one of the conductors for the New York Choral Society's annual Messiah Sing-in in Avery Fisher Hall. For the Morris Choral Society's 2007 concert season, the chorus will include the premier performance of the Walters Requiem Mass in D-minor along with the Bernstein Chichester Psalms. In July, 2007, Mr. Walters conducted the chorus on a concert tour of Germany and Austria.After graduation from Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania with a B.S. degree in Music Education, Mr. Walters was granted a graduate voice scholarship by the Juilliard School, where he was a student of the renowned coach and music editor, Sergius Kagen. He earned an M.A. degree in voice and conducting at the College of New Jersey in Trenton.As a professional bass-baritone, Mr. Walters has performed in concert, recital, oratorio, opera, and musical comedy throughout Europe and the Eastern United States, and with musical organizations including the Wyoming Valley Oratorio Society, the New Shrewsbury Choral, The University Men's Glee Club of New York, The New Philharmonic Orchestra, Summit Symphony, Montclair Civic Chorus and Orchestra, Princeton Opera Theater, Sussex Symphony and Lyric Opera Company, and the College of New Jersey Opera Workshop. Mr. Walters sang the bass solos in Verdi's Requiem with the original Masterwork Chorus under David Randolph, and made his Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center debuts in Handel's Messiah with the same chorus and conductor. Mr. Walters was a music educator in the New Jersey Public Schools for thirty-six years, a member of the faculty of Fairleigh Dickenson University and the Encore Music Camp at Wilkes University in PA. He was theory instructor and director of choruses at Morristown High School, and was a guest conductor for the New Jersey School Music Association. In 1986 he was selected as Master Choral Music Teacher by the NJ Music Educators Association. He received The Governor's Award for excellence in the "Arts In Education Program" in New Jersey. Mr. Walters achieved national recognition as one of eight educators selected to participate in the filming of Craft And Joy In Teaching, a videotape for teacher training in American Colleges and Universities, made possible through The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. In 2001 Mr. Walters was recognized by the Arts Council of the Morris Area as "Outstanding Professional in the Arts." Mr. Walters was instructor of voice and adjunct professor of music at the College of Saint Elizabeth in Morristown. Wayne and his wife, Ann, live in Morris Plains, New Jersey.
If you are:1. A New Jersey resident or student currently attending a New Jersey school,2 Age 19 or older,3. Pursuing a major or course of study in one of the following disciplines:a) Vocal performanceb) Vocal conductingc) Music education with a major in voice Audition CD/DVD and Needs Statement should be subnitted to the Scholarship Committee at PO Box 1783, Morristown, NJ 07960. Finalists will interview with the Scholarship Committee. Please consider applying for our $2500 scholarship for the 2021-22 school year. To apply, click on the Application button and when the file appears, click on the printer icon at the bottom of the page to print the application form. We look forward to hearing from you!
2013 - 2014 Award Winner: Emily Sung of Lawrenceville, NJEmily is a first year graduate student at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ, where she is studying for a Masters Degree in Choral Conducting. Emily grew up in Lawrenceville, NJ and earned her Bachelor's Degree in History at Princeton University. After graduating, she continued on at Princeton for two years to study choral conducting with Gabriel Crouch, and to assistant conduct the Princeton University Glee Club under his mentorship.Upon completion of her Masters Degree at Westminster, Emily plans to pursue a Doctorate in Music.
2012 - 2013 Award Winner: Naomi Ortiz of Kearny, NJNaomi, a sophomore at New Jersey City University, is pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Music Education with a concentration in Classical Voice Performance. Naomi is a lyric soprano and studies voice under the tutelage of Sondra Kelly. Naomi's previous honors include being inducted into the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and receiving the George Hansler Choral Music Education Scholarship. Naomi would like to send a special thanks to her youngest brother, Nor Ortiz, for being her inspiration and to her entire family for their continuing love and support.
Stephanie Leotsakos is a senior at Princeton University majoring in music composition and minoring in vocal performance and teacher preparation. She aspires to be a professional opera singer and attend graduate school soon after graduation. Stephanie has performed various roles with the New York Lyric Opera Theatre, Princeton Music Department, and the Princeton Opera Company including Susanna and Barbarina in Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Belinda in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Anna in Jonathan Dove’s Tobias and the Angel, Athena and Venus in Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea, and Amelia in Menotti’s Amelia Goes to the Ball. She currently studies with David Kellett, active lyric tenor and voice faculty at Princeton University. At the completion of this academic year she will be giving a full vocal recital on May 15thand two full productions of her senior thesis, an original opera titled OMG, at the end of April.
2010 - 2011 Award Winner: Chelsea Rose Friedlander, of Port Murray, NJChelsea recently received her Master's degree from Manhattan School of Music, where she studied with the head of the Vocal Department, Maitland Peters. She has an active performance schedule, along with audio and video of recent performances, at mchelseafriedlander.comFunding has been made possible in part by the Arts Council of the Morris Area through the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funding has also been provided by the Arts Council of the Morris Area/Dodge Foundation Partnership.
2011 - 2012 Award Winner: Taylor Kurilew, of South Plainfield, NJTaylor is a senior at Montclair State University, where she is pursuing a degree in Music Education with a concentration in Voice at the John J. Cali School of Music. Taylor studies with Professor Anastasia Swope. After Taylor finishes her degree in the spring of 2013 she plans to go right back to school to pursue a Masters in Vocal Performance.
Dec. 8, 8 PM 2018Dec. 9, 3 PM
Our Holiday concerts in 2018 were held at St. Virgils Parish in Morris Plains, NJ. The title of this program was:Christmas with the Morris Choral Society: “Songs Earthly and Divine”The Morris Choral Society sang Benjamin Britten’s great Ceremony of Carols with harp. Also on the concert was holiday music from three centuries, including new settings of “Deck the Halls” and “The Holly and the Ivy.”
On the above dates, the chorus sang a concert entitled, “Greatest Hits of Opera and Broadway, featuring soprano Christina Major. Also performing were Alicia Bozza, Donna Anderle, Wendy Schramm and Wayne Walters from the chorus. Selections were from the operas La Traviata, Il Trovatore, Nabucco, Tosca, and others.From Broadway, we sang songs from The Tender Land, Phantom of the Opera, A Little Night Music, Oh, Kay, Candide and West Side Story. The Express Male Sextet also sang songs from Broadway.
May 18 & 19, 2019
The chorus was unable to perform in 2020 and in the spring of 2021 due to the pandemic, but we were able to resume performing live during the Holidays of 2021. Our program was entitled, “Tidings of Comfort and Joy”, and was presented at the United Methodist Church on the Green in Morristown. The concert was conducted by our Director Emeritus, Wayne Walters. The program included a wide variety of Holiday favorites from classical “O Magnum Mysterium” to Gospel Rock. Also performing was the Express Male Sextet.
Dec. 19, 2021
Our Spring concert for 2018 was held on Saturday, May 12, at 8:00 PM at the Methodist Church on the Green in Morristown. Our concert was entitled, “Rebirth and Renewal, a Celebration of Spring”, and was conducted by our Musical Director, Dr. Jason Tramm. For the first part of the program we sang Faure’s Requiem, featuring Maya Hoover, Mezzo Soloist and Jonathan Scott, Baritone Soloist. We were accompanied by the MidAtlantic Chamber Orchestra. Works presented in the second half of the program were by Gwyneth Walker, Ola Gjeilo, Daniel Elder and Samuel Barber. Also featured on the program was the Express Male sextet.
May 12, 2018
Dec. 12 & 13, 2015
The Morris Choral Society ushered in the holiday spirit this season at the Bickford Theatre with "Holiday Spectacular XII: Awe and Wonder", under the direction of Matthew Lee, which featured a collection of familiar musical treasures and choral gems. Selections included works by Rutter, Busto, and Rachmaninoff. The concert concluded with sing-along selections as well as a rousing medley of carols.Also on the program was a selection of seasonal music by the Express Male sextet.
At the Methodist Church on the Green in Morristown, the Morris Choral Society presented a program entitled “Endless Song” under the direction of Matthew Lee. The program included Vivaldi's Gloria and other works, including pieces by James Erb, Mark Miller, Ola Gjeilo, Lloyd Pfautsch and more. Accompanying the chorus was a full orchestra, and professional soloists also performed.The Express Male sextet also performed several selections.
May 14, 2016
“Candles and Carols - A Choral Celebration” The Morris Choral Society opened its’ 2016-17 season at the Bickford Theater, Morristown, with a holiday themed program that excited and inspired audiences of all ages. Works of Whitacre, Praetorius, Caldwell and Ivory, Leavitt and many others combined to present a night that celebrated over three centuries of fine holiday choral music. Also presented was Ottorino Respighi’s rarely performed “Laud to the Nativity”, a work for soloists, chorus and wind instruments. With a distinct homage to Renaissance music, Respighi tells the Christmas story through the eyes of angels and shepherds, but with modern harmonic language and elegant instrumental writing. The concert featured the Express Male sextet, and a surprise guest high school ensemble. This concert marked the debut of Dr. Jason C. Tramm as Music Director of the Morris Choral Society.
Dec. 10 & 11, 2016
May 20, 2017
“Peace, Triumphant Peace!” Our 2016-17 concert season concluded at the Dorothy Young Center, Drew University, with a choral/orchestral performance, directed by Dr. Jason Tramm, and was dedicated to the subject of peace and the peacemakers that made a difference in our world. The Morris Choral Society partnered with the Mid Atlantic Opera Orchestra on a program that inspired and uplifted. Works included Mendelssohn’s serene “Verleih uns Freiden”, (Grant us Peace), a capella work for choir and Beethoven’s majestic Choral Fantasy, Op. 80, The concert concluded with the New Jersey premiere of Karl Jenkins’ monumental “The Peacemakers”, a major work that was premiered at Carnegie Hall in 2012.
The Morris Choral Society presented its Annual Holiday Spectacular, “Resounding Joy” on December 9 and 10th at the Bickford Theater. The first half of the program featured Christmas works by master composers through the ages (Saint-Saens, Bruckner, and Gjeilo), including sections from Rutter’s triumphant Magnificat. The second half of the program featured our very own Express Male Sextet and members of the Morris Knolls High School Choral program. The Morris Chorale then delighted the audience with popular songs of the season and a holiday sing along that brought “Resounding Joy” to all!
Dec. 9 & 10, 2017
May 15, 3 PM
Our Spring concert for 2022 will be held at the Trinity Lutheran Church, 131 Mountain Way, Morris Plains, NJ.The Morris Choral Society will perform in a live concert celebrating great music from Randall Thompson’s Testament of Freedom, and also from his Frostiana, taken from the poetry of Robert Frost. There will also be selections from the Early American Music of Aaron Copland.There will also be several selections from the Express Male Sextet.
Come and enjoy a wonderful afternoon of great music from America’s past.Our guest soloist for the concert will be Jonathan R Green, an American Verdi Baritone, originally from Chicago, and he now resides in Harlem, NY. Jonathan has been a soloist with the National Choral (NYC) performing as the baritone soloist in Carmina Burana. He has internationally performed at the Sempr Oper (Dresden), Deutsche Oper am Rein (Düsseldorf), Teatro Massimo Bellini (Catania), Teatro San Carlo (Napoli), and most recently Teatro Regio (Torino). His operatic credits include the title roles of Rigoletto, Falstaff, and Figaro (Mozart and Rossini), Scarpia (Tosca), Renato (Un Ballo in maschera), Guglielmo (Così fan tutte), Marcello (La Bohème), Crown (Porgy and Bess), and Germont (La Traviata).
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Contact UsMailing Address: Morris Choral Society P.O. Box 1783 Morristown, NJ 07962-1783Telephone: 973-267-4936 (Dale Leppard, President)E-Mail: email@example.comRehearsals: Monday evenings, 7:30 to 9:30 Frelinghuysen Middle School 2 Jane Way (Off Hanover Avenue) Morristown, NJ 07960Executive BoardMusic Director:Michael WittenburgPresident: Dale (Bud) LeppardVice-President:Robert KennadayTreasurerAudrey WellsMembership Secretary:Roberta FosterRecording Secretary:Lisa GonzalezCorresponding Secretary:Catherine RusyniakMembers-At-Large:Audrey SchultzBarbara StrombergAnita CromptonKaren KreckelPublic Relations/Media:Mr. Don J. SmithTelephone: 973-714-4763e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Morris Choral Society Policy Statement:The Morris Choral Society has a firm commitment to safeguard the privacy of our customers.We collect the e-mail addresses of those who purchase tickets from our web site so that we may send ticket confirmation to the purchaser’s e-mail address, or so that we may respond to questions regarding our organization or our performances. We may also collect your e-mail address under the following circumstance:When it is necessary to share information in order to investigate, prevent, or take action regarding illegal activities, suspected fraud, situations involving potential threats to the physical safety of any person, or as otherwise required by law.The Morris Choral Society uses your personal information only to conduct business with you. Your personally identifiable information will not be rented, sold or shared with any third party except as otherwise agreed by you.The Morris Choral Society uses collected information for the sole purposes of forwarding ticket confirmations to your e-mail address, or for responding to questions you have asked about our organization and our performances.Security:We may record your computer’s IP address with your order to help us identify fraudulent credit card use. We may share this information with the financial institution that issued the credit card with which an order was placed, or with law enforcement authorities if we determine, or are notified, that the use of the credit card was fraudulent.Disclosure:The Morris Choral Society may periodically update this policy. We will notify you about significant changes in the way we treat personal information by placing a prominent notice on our web site.Delivery Method:Purchasers of tickets on the Morris Choral Society web site will receive a confirmation e-mail which may be presented at the door for any public concert being performed by the Morris Choral Society.Refunds:Funds used to purchase tickets on the Morris Choral Society web site will be refunded if the Morris Choral Society is notified at least five days before the concert for which the ticket was purchased, that the ticket cannot be used.Once the funds for the ticket purchase have been deposited in the PayPal account of the Morris Choral Society, a refund check will be issued to the purchaser by the treasurer of the Morris Choral Society within thirty days of such deposit. Or, at the purchaser’s option, a purchased ticket may be used for any future concert being performed by the Morris Choral Society.Cancellations:Should a concert be cancelled for which a ticket has been purchased, the ticket price will be refunded as per the above Refunds Policy, or at the purchaser’s discretion, a purchased ticket may be used for any future concert being performed by the Morris Choral Society.
Access to the concert:The Morris Choral Society is in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, (ADA). Ticket purchasers with disabilities who are not able to access the concert venue will be refunded the full purchase price of the ticket, plus reasonable travel expenses.