The Men Of Music

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With the 1999-2000 season, the chorus celebrates 64 years as Midland's "Ambassadors of Song." The current chorus numbers 64 members representing 1020 years of experience. The average age of our singers is somewhere between mid-20s and early 90s. Four periods define the history of the chorus. The group started in 1936 as the Dow Male Chorus. Membership at that time was restricted to Dow Chemical and Dow Coming employees. From 1936 to 1943 the chorus developed under four short-term conductors.

The chorus grew to over 100 men under Ted Vosburgh, who was the longest tenured director, lasting from 1943 to 1964. Many concerts were given all over the state. Under sponsorship of the Dow Chemical Company, the group also conducted a weeklong train tour of Oklahoma and Texas, performing at Dow facilities in those states. On another occasion the chorus traveled to Marquette, in the Upper Peninsula, in the days before the Mackinaw Bridge was built.

In 1961, Dow discontinued its Music Department and the chorus became the Men of Music, and along with the rest of the Dow Music Department formed The Music Society under director Ted Vosburgh. Membership declined, and in 1972 the chorus almost ceased to exist. However, the group was committed to host the State Sing that year, and a small group hung on to carry it off.

The present chorus owes its existence to the effort of four men who prevailed upon Ellen White, the group's former accompanist, to become director of the chorus. Ellen's tenure is the longest of the modern period, and during her 12 years the chorus grew to its present size. Ellen inaugurated the annual Christmas Concert and Spring Show.

Janelle McGuire was the second woman to direct the men. The chorus continued to grow musically and in size during her four seasons. Julianne Davis was the third director in this period. The chorus enlarged its repertoire significantly with increasingly difficult numbers. Her spring shows were creative.

The Men of Music is fortunate to continue to mature with our present talented director, Grace Marra. With less than three months to prepare, she had to learn the talents and repertoire of the group and produce the 1995 spring show. Grace now has had four Spring Shows, four Christmas Concerts and numerous other performances with the chorus. She also directed the mass choruses at last yearıs Big Sing! We are also fortunate to have had the talents of Cindy Burt as our accompanist, returning after a five year absense..

A typical season for the Men of Music consists of a fall season centered on a free Christmas Concert for the community. Free-will offerings have raised almost $60,000 for charities over the years. The group also performs for local nursing homes and other groups, and at the Midland Mall and the Dow Gardens' Christmas Walk during the Christmas season. The spring season focuses on a show built around a theme, which is the primary revenue source for the group. During the year there are numerous other performances of the full chorus and a smaller subset of the Men of Music, the Dirty Dozen. These include performances of the National Anthem for softball and tennis tournaments, performances for civic organizations, the Intermediate Schools vocal clinic and groups holding meetings in Midland.

Information from the Men Of Music web site