History of the Chorale

History of the Chorale

The Androscoggin Chorale began in 1972 when a group of singers, several from Bates College, approached Dr. Marion Anderson, a music professor at Bates, to form a community chorus. Under his baton the group’s performances included the Vivaldi Gloria with string quartet accompaniment and Randall Thompson’s Frostiana. Dr. Anderson’s tenure continued until Dale Perkins took the reins in the late 1970’s. The Chorale performed the Brahms Requiem during that time, among other pieces. 

Peter Frewen was hired by the Board of Directors of the Androscoggin Chorale in 1982. Under his leadership the Maine Music Society (MMS) was formed in 1991 as an umbrella organization for the Androscoggin Chorale and the Maine Chamber Ensemble, its professional orchestra. Mr. Frewen was named Artistic Director, and the organization maintained a staffed office on Lisbon St. in Lewiston. The vision of MMS at the time was to provide Lewiston-Auburn with a standing professional music presence in the Lewiston-Auburn area. 

From 1982 until 2006, MMS performed countless choral concerts, from small chamber pieces to large full-scale productions, including Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis (in collaboration with the Seaglass Chorale) and Haydn’s Creation. The Chorale also performed a yearly series of more intimate concerts of American Classics, celebrating the works of the likes of George Gershwin, Cole Porter, and Jerome Kern. The Maine Chamber Ensemble also performed a yearly concert of strictly orchestral works.

In the spring of 2006, the Maine Music Society welcomed Mr. John Corrie, music instructor at Bates College, as its new Artistic Director. Under his leadership, MMS focused solely on choral singing, nearly doubling the size of the Chorale in just a few years. The concert season settled on a pattern of the ever-popular Heritage Christmas concert in December, a classical concert with orchestra in late March, and a popular-focused concert in May. Repertoire ranged over a wide variety of composers, genres, and eras. 

Perhaps most notable was the performance of the Brahms Requiem at the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in collaboration with the Bates College Choir and Orchestra and the Lewiston and Auburn high school choirs, attended by a sold-out audience of more than 1200. A final collaboration of singers and orchestra was to occur in March of 2020 as the capstone of Mr. Corrie’s tenure with MMS before his retirement. Sadly, the performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony had to be cancelled just weeks before it was to occur because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In the summer of 2013, under Mr. Corrie’s direction, the Maine Music Society Chamber Singers was formed as a sub-set of the MMS Chorale. This small (15-20 voices) a cappella ensemble performs a wide variety of pieces, from classical art songs to folk songs to contemporary popular works. They have sung regularly at the Twelfth Night celebration at the Women’s Literary Union, at the summer concert series on Islesboro in Penobscot Bay, at the Auburn Library for a flash mob, and at the inauguration of Governor Janet Mills, to name just a few performances. The group is available for additional performances around the community.

In 2015, as a part of a celebration of our 25th season, the Chorale changed its name from the Androscoggin Chorale to the Maine Music Society Chorale. The name changes emphasize that we are all a part of the broader Maine Music Society, our umbrella organization.

Maine Music Society operates with a yearly budget of around $120,000. The monies come from ticket sales, donations from corporate and individual sponsors, and from fund-raising events. The ever-popular Battle of the Blends is an all a cappella concert performed yearly as a major fund raiser. Groups from around New England donate their talents to provide an exciting sold-out event. An online auction has in recent years also become a major source of income.

The fall of 2020 was to inaugurate the tenure of our new Artistic Director, Dr. Richard Nickerson. After a year of Zoom meetings and rehearsals and hopeful planning, we are now set to begin the concert season of 2021-2022 under his leadership. “Rick” Nickerson is an award-winning director of choral music at Windham High School who has led his singers on many tours, including to New York City and abroad. We are all excited by the new directions that Maine Music Society will take as he leads us into the future.