The Choral Club of Hartford has had a long and luminous history. It began with the vision of Ralph L. Baldwin, then Supervisor of Music in the Hartford school system on June 13, 1907. Forty-four singers from the Hartford area became Charter Members. The Club was set up to run as a business- one reason for its longevity.
Numbered amongst its members were businessmen, lawyers and even a judge. Mr. Baldwin conducted the chorus for thirty years. Following him were Marshall Seely, 1937-1952, Duncan Phyfe, 1952-1958, Jack Byron Grove, 1958-1964, Eugene W. Christy, 1964-1974, Charles Fidlar, 1974-1976, Don David McKeever, 1976-1991, Kenneth Holton, 1991-2000, Daniel S. Clark, 2000-2003, Frederick C. North II, 2003-. Our current conductor is James Boratko.
It is significant that in one hundred years of continuous operation as a choral society, it presently has only our tenth conductor. Our Centennial Concert was performed at The Hartford's Wallace Stevens Theater on Nov. 30, 2007.
The Choral Club has sung in many places: on the Bushnell Memorial stage, at the Lincoln Center for the Arts, Trinity College, the Jewish Community Center, the Sangerbund, Lithuanian Hall, the Wadsworth-Atheneum, The Hartford Group Auditorium amongst them. The Club has presented concerts at the Avery Heights nursing home, The Hospital for Special Care in New Britain and at the Cromwell Library. Our singers have contributed to the arts of many communities with their love of singing. We continue the tradition into our second 100 years.
Much of the history of The Choral Club of Hartford is archived into large albums which contain primary source documents from media of the time. A written compilation of the first 30 years by Robert S. Morris in 1937 provides us with an accurate glimpse of the composition and successes of the club over that time as well as the program booklets from the performances.
Here are the program booklet covers and the programs for the first and the fiftieth concerts.
First 1907 Concert Program Booklet Page
Fiftieth 1956 Concert Program Booklet Page
Our 100th Concert Program can be found on our Anniversary Page.
First Concert- Dec. 6, 1907(The club was conceived in June 13, 1907 with 45 members.)
The first concert was held on a Fri. night at the Foot Guard Hall with 57 members singing.
The President was L.P.Waldo Marvin, with Conductor Ralph L. Baldwin and Pianist Merritt A. Alfred.
Guests were Miss Virginia Listemann, Soprano and Bernard Listemann, Violinist
(Note: No mention of the Singers' Greeting appears in the program.)
"At Sea", Dudley Buck (accompanied by pianoforte)
"Reveries", A.M. Storch
"Hungarian Scenes", Jeno Hubay; violin solo
"O Blessed Angel", Alfred Dregert
"When the Bird A-pilfring Goes", E. Kremser
"Der Schwan" and "Ein Traum", Edvard Grieg; soprano solo
"The Nun of Nidaros", Daniel Protheroe (accompanied by pianoforte); Text: H. W. Longfellow
"Bedouin Song", Arthur Foote; Poem by Bayard Taylor
"Romance", H. W. Ernst, violin solo
"It Was A Lover and His Lass", S. Archer Gibson; from As You Like It , Shakespeare
"L'ete", C. Chaminade, soprano solo
"The Night Has A Thousand Eyes", Ethelbert Nevin (with violin obligato)
"To the Genius of Music", Hermann Mohr; (cantata with soprano solo and pianoforte)
5oth Winter Concert-Dec. 7, 1956
The 50 th Winter Concert was held on a Fri. night at the Bushnell with 100 members singing.
The President was Paul L. Paulsen with Conductor Duncan Phyfe and accompanist, Leo Rewinski.
Guest: The Inter-High Chorus
Program-Part One (The Singers' Greeting is listed in the program)
"Lift Thine Eyes", F. Knight Logan, Arr. R. L. Baldwin, Words, Artruro Lucey
"De Camptown Races", Stephen C. Foster, Arr. R. L. Baldwin
"When Night Descends In Silence", S. Rachmaninoff, Arr. R. L. Baldwin, Eng. Text, Ed Schneider
"Song of Love", Selim Palmgren, Arr. and Eng. Text by R. L. Baldwin
"To My Mother", R.L. Baldwin, Words, Odell Shepard
"God Save The People", R. L. Baldwin; Guests: Inter-High Chorus
"Hashkivenu", Max Helfman, Guests: Inter-High Chorus
"Over Jordan", Arr. R. L. Baldwin
"Sylvelin", Christian Sinding, Arr. R. L. Baldwin, Eng. Text, F. H. Martens
"Hymn Before Action", R. L. Baldwin, Words, Rudyard Kipling
"An Offering", R. L. Baldwin, Guests: Inter-High Chorus
"Little 'Lordeen'", R. L. Baldwin, Guests: Inter-High Chorus
"O Rejoice, Ye Christians, Loudly", J. S. Bach, Guests: Inter-High Chorus
"Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!", V. Herbert from ' Naughty Marietta ', Arr. R. L. Baldwin
"Wid De Moon, Moon, Moon", Will Marion Cook, Words, William Moore, Arr. R. L. Baldwin
"The Chain of Jungle Life", R. L. Baldwin, Words, Wm. Beebe
"Swing Low Sweet Chariot", Arr. R. L. Baldwin
"The Music of the Spheres", R. L. Baldwin, Words, anonymous
"Morning", Oley Speaks, Arr. R. L. Baldwin, Words, Frank L. Stanton
"Adeste Fideles", J. Reading, Arr. R. L. Baldwin, Translated into English, Rev. F. Oakeley
(Audience invited to sing 3rd stanza). Directed by Marshall Seeley.
Information above was from the actual programs and in the 50th program acknowledgement is the Historian, I. Laird Newell.
Ralph Lyman Baldwin conducted for 30 years until 1937, dying that year. He also conducted the Mendelssohn Glee Club of New York for a number of years.
Marshall E. Seeley was the 2nd conductor for 15 years until 1952.
It's noted that special concerts were held at the Metropolitan Opera House, Madison Square Garden, Philadelphia Sesquicentennial, New York World Fair, Connecticut Tercentenary in the Yale Bowl. Many benefit concerts were held.
There is(was) no public sale of tickets, the dues of the members financing the club. There were 700 contributing Associate members at the time of the 50 th anniversary.
Singers' Greeting, by Ralph Lyman Baldwin
Ecce quam bonum
Habitare Fratres In Unum
How good and joyous it is
To live like brothers together.