Northwest Choral Society (NWCS) was founded in June 1965 as a non-profit 501(c)(3) educational and cultural organization. Neil Kjos, Jr., a music publisher in Park Ridge, was the founder and first president of the board. The first year was under the direction of Prof. Martin R. Rice, choral music director at Roosevelt University. Neil Kjos conducted the November 20, 1966 concert in the second year. James C. Thunder, Jr., then assumed the directorship of Northwest Choral Society, which met at Christ Church in Des Plaines. Mr. Thunder passed away in March 2016. John Melcher became music director in 1978, after having been a member and soloist of the Chorus. He led the Chorus faithfully until his death in 2009. Dr. Alan Wellman joined Northwest Choral Society in 2010. As a strong and capable leader, Alan served for seven years and accepted a teaching position in Pasadena, CA, in 2017. Kevin Kelly took over the reigns as Artistic Director in 2018.
NWCS believes music transforms our lives, develops creativity and musical expression, and unites all people into a community. We draw upon singers from the greater Chicago area with the purpose of performing a diverse repertoire of the highest caliber for the joy, enrichment, and education of our memership and our audiences.
Members of NWCS can enjoy the personal growth and satisfaction that comes from active participation in a high-level performing arts organization. Our Chorus members come from many walks of life and professions.
We are dedicated to quality performances. Members benefit from professional instruction in good vocal technique (appropriate breath support, vowel formation and color, singing without vocal tension, and diction), as well as developing score-reading skills and principles of musicianship.
Over the last few years, NWCS has given outreach performances throughout the greater Chicagoland area, including: three appearances at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago for its Together in the Loss of a Child gatherings; the Des Plaines Arts Festival; and the 2014 Welcome Yule concert at Chicago’s Symphony Center. The Chorus participated in the Windy City Choral Festival in 2016 and 2017 at Symphony Center. Three compositions have been dedicataed to NWCS over the years. In 2017 the Chorus commissioned Thomas LaVoy to compose “Starlight” as part of his song cycle of the same name, and gave the world premier in April 2018.
Each season, NWCS performs a variety of sacred, classical, and popular music under the leadership of our artistic director, Kevin Kelly, and accompaniment by our collaborative pianist, Lori Lyn Mackie. Ensembles of Chicago’s finest professional instrumentalists, as well as renowned soloists, join us for most concerts. If you are a tenor, bass, alto or soprano with previous choral experience, we invite you to join us. As a relatively intimate chorus of 45 to 50 voices, we are friendly, supportive and fun!