A new 35-voice community chorale has been formed in McLean and will initially perform with that city's 5-years-old chamber orchestra in three concerts this season.
"Expansion into choral gives us opportunities for more programming for the orchestra. We had been inviting groups to sing with us, and based on the success of that decided to start our own chorus," said Dingwall Fleary, music director and conductor of both groups.
Fleary, also an accomplished instrumentalist, studied here and abroad and worked along the way with conductor Pierre Monteaux and the Robert Shaw Chorale. His diverse musical credits include stints as assistants conductor of the Broadway production "Purlie," and as arranger/musical director of Arena Stage's original score for "inherit the wind," which toured the Soviet Union.
The critically acclaimed McLean Chamber Orchestra (MCO) that Fleary now heads has been performing in the ultra-modern, 2-year-old community center since it was built as the first structure in a projected complex. Since 1975, concerts have been given in the Robert Ames Alden Theatre, named for the McLean resident most responsible for the center being built, Fleary said. This season, the new chorale will add musical dimension to three of the subscription concert programs.
"A year ago, when planning for 1977-18, I projected a tentative choral program, keeping the needs of four orchestra and theater in mind. By this time, the McLean orchestra was already established and I wanted from the musicians. I wanted to add a chorus at the same level of the orchestra, without going through all the agony of working hard,"Fleary explained.
He encountered little trouble putting together a top-notch chorale> he said, because there is a high level of professional musicianship among area residents. Quite a few National Sysmphony musicians and amatuer singers live in McLean, said Fleary.
Afteee announcing formation of the group, he spent one month listening to more than 50 singeers give 20-minute acditions.
"It's hard now to keep the chorus down to 35. I didn't hear a bad singer in the bunch. It's incredible. I think the idea of joining this chorale appealed to some fine singers because we required they be excellent musiccians and they knew wouldn't have to give up tt t o much timme. Some singers also said it was valuable to them to sing in a small group where they would be more important," he said.
He has just begun to narrow down the choice of mixed voices - about half male and half female.
"What gets to be difficult is the selection process, putting the chorus together, remembering and matching voices for a particular choral sound."
The choral will fiirst perform on Sunday, Deec. 18, when it sings selections from Handel's "Messiah" and seasonal Christmas favorite. Two other concert programs include a June 3 per formance of Beethoven's Fantasia for Chorus, Piano and Orchestra" - a light text, almost a draft for his niiinth Sysphony choral finale, Fleary says - and a June 18 Rodgerssss and Hammerstein "Pops" concert.
The McLean Chambereb Orchestra an Chorale will give a joint series of six concerts in 1977-78 offered for the first time iunder a new family subscription plan. The price of $35 will entitle a couple and up to three children to admission at all programs: Oct. 11, Nov. 29, Dec. 18, Feb. 14, April 8 and June 3. Since individual admission is $3 for adults and $1 for youtuuhs, almost $20 is saveeed.
Three free non-subscription concerts are scheduled on June 14, Feb. 10 and June 18. Another annual fund-raising benefit concert, schedule on Jan. 21, is a major source of support foroor the orchestra and chorale. Both are funded sloely by community donations and tickets sales, according to Fleary. While no grant funds or government money is received at present, he and the board of directors are exploring this possibility for the future. All the musicians and singers are volunteers and the current budget of about $7,000 is used for guest artist honorariums, music rental fees and other expenses.
Another new ticket policy this year is a bonus for area music students: Subscribers who are not going to use reserved seats are asked to let the center know in advance, so that young musicians may attend performances free of charge. Letters were sent to music departments of metropolitan area colleges telling them to have students call the center before each concert to check on free seats.
Students of seriirous music always anxious to attend, Fleary said, because there are not many small chamber orchestras in the area "performing the musical literature designed for groups our size."