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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

CLEVELAND VOCAL SOCIETY

CLEVELAND VOCAL SOCIETY

The CLEVELAND VOCAL SOCIETY, 1874-1902, under the leadership of ALFRED ARTHUR fashioned a record of substantial musical achievement, headed by its many introductory performances in Cleveland of major chorale works with orchestra. Within 3 years of his arrival in Cleveland, Arthur interested a group of men in organizing a chorale-performing group that was to become the Cleveland Vocal Society. The "First Complimentary Rehearsal" of the new society was presented on 10 Feb. 1874 at Brainard's Opera House. The group consisted of 49 singers performing 10 selections, from the popular "You Stole My Love" to Mozart's "Ave Verum Corpus." Traditionally the society presented 3 concerts a year, in December, February, and April or May. By 1880 there were about 70 singers, divided equally between men and women, and a Vocal Society Orchestra of 30 players. In May 1880, the society arranged a May Festival at the Tabernacle on Ontario St., the first of regular biennial festivals that lasted until 1886. The idea was revived in 1895 and 1897 when the Boston Festival Chorus joined the society for May Festival concerts in the Music Hall. At the world choral competition held at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, the society enhanced its reputation by winning 1st prize. The society concentrated on major chorale works during the 1880s and 1890s, including local premieres of the complete Handel's Messiah (1880), the Berlioz Damnation of Faust (1886), and the Verdi Requiem (1888). The society continued until 1902, adding works by Mozart, Mendelssohn, Palestrina, and Dvorak to its impressive list of credits.


Heywood, Alexander, J. It Must Be Heard (1981).

See also MUSIC and OPERA.