Morris Choral Society
In 1972 fire destroyed the United Methodist Church on the Green in Morristown, and for the next two years the Methodist congregation held its services in the sanctuary of Temple B'nai Or. As the new Methodist Church neared completion, R. Wayne Walters, the bass soloist at both the Methodist Church and at Temple B'nai Or, composed a setting of the Friday Evening Service, Shabbat Hodaah, and dedicated it to the B'nai Or congregation and Rabbi Z. David Levy. To perform the work, a chorus was assembled made up of choir members from area churches.
The performance was such a success that in the spring of 1973, Rabbi Levy asked Walters to reassemble the group and perform a concert of Russian and Israeli folk music for the 25th Anniversary of the State of Israel. The resounding success of this event caused several of the singers to suggest that the group remain together under Walters' leadership. In the summer of 1973 the Morris Choral Society (MCS) was incorporated, and it performed for the first time that December.
Since its founding the ecumenical Society has made significant contributions to the local choral scene and throughout the Northern New Jersey area as well as appearing on NBC television's "First Estate" program. Its concert year, in general, includes two major concerts in and about Morris County. It has also served the Community through appearances at many of Morristown's annual celebrations of Independence Day, the historical Holly Walk, its popular Fall Festival On the Green, and most recently First Night. The Society has received international recognition performing successful concerts in England in 1990, Ireland in 1994, Scotland and Wales in 1996, France in 1998 and Italy in the summer of 2000. Also MCS has been represented by "ambassadorial" choral contingents in multi-choral units in Eastern Europe in 1997 and 2000. In the process the Society has assembled a vast and varied musical repertoire, the cornerstone of which is an impressive list of serious music from the Renaissance to the present.
MCS has participated in a number of particularly exciting events. It performed with Judy Collins in her Christmas Show; and with Dave Brubeck in La Fiesta de la Posada, at the Community Theatre. Another highlight was singing the Beethoven Ninth (Choral) Symphony and Bloch's Sacred Service under Leon Hyman with the New NJ Philharmonic. Several collaborations with Jazz Pianist Rio Clemente and Friends have been popular as well. A Gershwin concert at the Morristown Community Theatre was sung to a sold-out audience of enthusiastic listeners.
As stated, MCS touring ensembles have performed in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France, Italy, Poland, and the Czech Republic, at premiere churches and municipal sites. Especially moving were appreciations expressed to all Americans by municipal officials at two Morris Choral Society concerts in Caen, France, on the 50th Anniversary of D-Day liberations.