South Holland Master Chorale welcomes new music director

South Holland Master Chorale starts its 2022-23 season with a new music director.

Conductor Philip J. Bauman took on the role following Albert M. Jackson’s retirement after 23 years.

“I’ve always been involved with vocal music one way or another, working with either choirs or with some opera companies that I’ve worked with in the past, so I’ve always had an affinity for the voice,” said Bauman, a longtime resident of Bolingbrook, Illinois, who now lives in South Bend, Indiana.

“I just love working with vocalists and singers. I know this is a superb choir and an outstanding choir so when the position became open, I was curious about it to see where this might go.”

South Holland Master Chorale opens its season with Songs of Celebration on Oct. 2 at First Reformed Church in South Holland, Illinois; and Oct. 16 at St. Thomas More Church in Munster, Indiana; with Bauman conducting and longtime accompanist Marilyn Bourgeois of Frankfort.

“We’re celebrating things as timely as today’s headlines, such as the coronation, so we’re singing a coronation anthem. We’re singing selections that would possibly be at a wedding. We’re celebrating patriotism and Bible leaders,” he said.

“I wanted to have a variety of things that celebrate life and moments that we find ourselves using song to express ourselves.”

Pieces include the coronation anthem “Let Thy Hand Be Strengthened” by George Frideric Handel, “Simple Gifts” by Aaron Copland, a medley of Armed Forces songs called “American Heroes” arranged by Carl Strommen, and “Total Praise” by Richard Smallwood.

The fall concert also features “Lift Every Voice and Sing” arranged by Heather Sorenson, which Bauman noted celebrates the African American voice, and “The Last Seven Words of David” by Randall Thompson.

“There’s several pieces where they’ll be asked to join us. There’s some audience participation,” Bauman said.

“’The Lord Bless You and Keep You’ by John Rutter is a beautiful piece that uses the voice extremely well. I’m hoping that when the audience hears this and where it’s placed in the concert, they do feel blessed with what we presented to them.”

When he was music director of La Porte County Symphony Orchestra in Indiana, Bauman collaborated with Jackson and South Holland Master Chorale for performances of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in 2007 and Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” in 2008.

The latter is what Bauman, who is also music director and conductor of Michigan City Messiah in Indiana and production manager of the South Bend Symphony Orchestra in Indiana, cited as one of his top achievements.

“It was a glorious celebration. It was such a challenge to put together,” he said.

“Everybody walked away from that being so proud of the accomplishment and those behind the scenes know how hard it was to make that happen. We patted ourselves on the back all around for that one so that moment has always stood out in my mind.”

The choir has more than 100 members, including Illinois residents of Beecher, Blue Island, Bourbonnais, Calumet City, Chicago, Chicago Heights, Country Club Hills, Crete, Dolton, Flossmoor, Frankfort, Hazel Crest, Homewood, Kankakee, Lansing, Lynwood, Matteson, Manteno, Mokena and Oak Park.

Illinois members from Olympia Fields, Orland Park, Park Forest, River Forest, South Holland, Thornton and Tinley Park and Indiana members from Cedar Lake, Chesterton, Dyer, Griffith, Hammond, La Porte, Munster, St. John, South Bend, Schererville and Valparaiso are also part of the choir.

“I’m struck by their passion and their dedication,” Bauman said.

“They give superb results at every rehearsal, which is gratifying, so I’m enjoying getting to know them. Their dedication and their musicality is quite outstanding.”

South Holland Master Chorale’s 2022-23 season of 4 pm concerts continues with Hymns of Praise on Nov. 20 at The Parish of Ss. Joseph, Anne & Emeric, 17951 Dixie Highway, Homewood, Illinois; where newcomers are welcome at 7 pm Mondays for rehearsals.

The Music of Living on May 14, 2023, at St. Maria Goretti, 500 Northgate Drive, Dyer, Indiana; and May 21, 2023, at St. John the Evangelist Parish, 10701 Olcott Ave., St. John, Indiana; close out the season.

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“I certainly want to keep the tradition alive of singing great choral music,” Bauman said.

“One of my major goals is to bring in younger voices. We’re always looking for newer voices.”

Songs of Celebration

When/Where: 4 p.m. Oct. 2 at First Reformed Church, 15924 South Park Ave., South Holland, Illinois; 4 pm Oct 16 at St. Thomas More Church, 8501 Calumet Ave., Munster, Indiana

Tickets: free

Information: 708-210-2913;

Jessi Virtusio is a freelance reporter for the Daily Southtown.

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