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Bach Chorale Singers Handbook

Vision Statement

Bach Chorale Singers, Inc., is an educational and artistic Organization dedicated to enriching the intellectual, philosophical, and spiritual quality of life for our community for this and future generations, through the study, practice, and performance of choral music.

Mission Statement:

The mission of the Bach Chorale Singers, Inc., is:

  1. Promote, support, and sustain interest in choral music by providing opportunities for singers of all ages to learn and perform under the direction of professional musicians.
  2. Inspire the citizens with programs featuring great choral repertoire performed at the highest artistic level.
  3. Educate future generations by providing music education opportunities for youth in our community.
  4. Enrich the lives of singers and audiences by linking them to diverse musical heritages.
  5. Lead the arts community by creating opportunities to incorporate various art forms in our performances and to collaborate with other arts groups.

Artistic Director

Conductor William Jon Gray brings a wealth of musical experience to the Bach Chorale. His respected reputation as a conductor, organist, pianist, and scholar is the result of a life-long commitment to the highest standards of musicianship.

His personal artistic statement is evidenced in his meticulous prepara­tion, dramatic performing presence, and unswerving belief in the importance of choral singing.

Mr. Gray served as Artistic Director of the Masterworks Chorus and Orchestra from 1986 to 1993. He has been Assistant Conductor of the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston and has appeared as guest conductor of the Handel and Haydn Society and the National Chamber Orchestra of Washington, D.C.

William Jon Gray has studied at the Julliard School, the New England Conservatory of Music, and Boston University, and is currently pursuing a Doctoral Degree in choral conducting at Indiana University. Mr. Gray has studied conducting with Robert Porco and Thomas Dunn, and was for many years a professional member of the Robert Shaw Festival Singers, frequently performing and studying with Mr. Shaw at Carnegie Hall Professional Training Workshops as well as in extensive concert tours of Europe. William Jon Gray currently serves on the faculty of the Indiana University School of Music.

He is in his thirteenth season with the Bach Chorale Singers.

History of the Bach Chorale Singers

Today the Bach Chorale Singers, Inc. consists of approximately 70 singers from the greater Lafayette and sur rounding area. Members come from all age groups and represent a variety of occupations. Membership in the group is gained through audition. Although many singers have had formal music training, some have not. All are bound together by a love of choral music.

Forty-two years ago the Bach Chorale Singers began when a small group of people started meeting on Sunday evenings, at the home of Pastor Raymond Geist, to sing Bach chorales. Later they took turns meeting in their homes. Gene Goodson, a member of the group, became its first music director. The group became incorporated in 1965 and performed its first public concert in 1968. Over the next few years it grew from the original few to sixty singers.

When Dr. Goodson left the Lafayette area in 1973, the Chorale looked outside the community for a new director. The next three music directors were doctoral candidates in choral conducting from the Indiana University School of Music, and all successfully completed their degrees while employed by the Bach Chorale: Graeme Cowen, 1973-1976; Paul Krasnovsky, 1976-1988; and John Yonkman, 1988-1994.

In the beginning, two concerts were performed each season, one each in the fall and spring. Gradually other programs were added to the concert season, among them a Messiah “Sing-Along” in 1973, a summer program in 1978, and “Lessons and Carols” in 1985. Over the years, the repertoire has expanded to include mu sic of various styles and periods. Recent summer performances featuring the music of George Gershwin and Cole Porter were sold out.

A number of special events have occurred during the past 41 years: a concert with the Paul Winter Consort; joint concerts with the Lafayette Sym phony, the University of Indianapolis Chorus, and Purdue's Symphony and Symphonic Band; performances in Crawfordsville, Frankfort, Indianapolis, Monticello and Bloomington; several summer music camps; a concert tour of Europe in 1986; a 1988 Marquis de Lafayette Award in the major arts; performances with the Tippecanoe Youth Chorus; a 1992 performance of Bach’s St. John Passion featuring acclaimed tenor, David Gordon; the release of a compact disc recording of Christmas Fanfares: A Festival of Lessons and Carols; and completion in summer 1998 of a com pact disc recording featuring choral and organ works of Zoltan Kodaly. A new “Family Carols” C.D. was released in Fall 2004.

Of particular significance to the continuing growth of the Chorale was an organizational change in 1984 from an “all-singers” board of directors to a “community participation” board. Un der the inspiring leadership of Artistic Director William Jon Gray, Bach Chorale Singers, Inc. is committed to artistic excellence, community service, and music educa tion.

In June 1996, an education component was formally added to the organization when the Tippecanoe Youth Chorus merged with Bach Chorale Singers, Inc. to form the Bach Chorale Youth Chorus. The chorus has performed at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C., in Chicago, St. Louis and most recently in June of 2003 in New York City.

In June of 1999, the Greater Lafayette Children’s Choir was formally added to the Bach Chorale Singers, Inc. as the Bach Chorale Children’s Choir. This group trains young singers ages 8 to 11.


Rehearsals are Sunday evenings from 6:30 - 9:30 p.m. at Morton Center


Singers are expected to attend all rehearsals since regular attendance is essential to the success of a performing group.

A signed contract serves as the agreement between each member and the artistic staff, assuring that the commitment level of each singer is understood.

Any changes to a singer’s commitment due to unforeseen circumstances will be made known in advance to the artistic staff.

Attendance at Dress Rehearsals is required.


The Annual Membership Fee for the 2006-07 season is $100.

Singers who are financially able are expected to pay the annual membership fee in full. No singer will be excluded from singing in the Bach Chorale for financial reasons.


Men:  Dark suit, white shirt, black bow tie.

Women:  Black floor length dress, skirt or slacks suit with at least cap sleeves and modest neckline.  Jewelry should not sparkle in the stage lights.  Please refrain from wearing fragrances!


Auditions for new members are held at the discretion of the Director.

The director evaluates each singer’s 1) vocal ability, 2) ability to read music, 3) ear (ability to sing in tune, etc.), and 4) general musicianship. 

The director and/or the audition committee will be responsible for informing prospective members of their status after their auditions.  Singers not accepted are not necessarily disqualified because of lack of ability, but in some cases because there is no opening in an appropriate section.

Individuals inquiring about membership after scheduled auditions are completed, or after rehearsals have begun, will be asked to wait until the next round of auditions is announced.

Individuals must be auditioned and accepted as singing members before they are allowed to participate in a rehearsal.

Singing members of the Chorale may be re-auditioned at any time at the Director’s discretion.


Every member of the Bach Chorale Singers is expected to:

  1. attend ALL performances;
  2. prepare the concert music to an acceptable level for each performance;
  3. attend rehearsals an acceptable number of times;
  4. rehearse music as expected between rehearsals;
  5. demonstrate appropriate rehearsal and concert etiquette;
  6. notify the appropriate person of any absence from a rehearsal PRIOR to the rehearsal except in case of emergencies; and
  7. volunteer to help the organization run smoothly.


It may be necessary for a member to take a leave of absence from the Bach Chorale Singers.  By doing so, the member will be given inactive status and will need to re-audition to regain membership.


The Artistic Director is given the artistic discretion to appoint and hire the necessary vocalists when appropriate.


  1. Be prompt! Please be seated and ready to sing by 6:30 p.m. sharp.When rehearsals are held at an alternate site, allow ample time to arrive and get organized.
  2. Keep a pencil in your folder.
  3. Pay attention to the director, and remain attentive.
  4. When the director is working with a section other than your own, listen to the instruction the director is giving and follow your own part in the score.
  5. Each singing member is responsible for marking his/her own score.When a member is absent, he/she must obtain the director’s markings from someone within the section.
  6. Good posture is essential to good vocal production.
  7. Please be courteous to those sitting around you.Refrain from wearing perfumes, colognes, etc., to rehearsals or performances.If you’re not well, call your section leader and remain at home.
  8. Announcements will be made by board and committee members of the BCS.With permission, other brief relevant announcements will be permitted.