It’s been said that some people can fill a room with their presence, others with their voice. For Artistic Director of the Prescott Chorale, Dennis Houser does both.
And, for the last six seasons, Dennis and close blended group of fifty individuals have filled the sanctuary of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church with a varied selection of Classical music creating memorable experiences for the Prescott Community and beyond.
A lifelong educator, Dennis has instructed at all scholastic levels of schools and universities. Prior to arriving in Prescott in 2012, Dennis was conductor of a variety of Chorales and Symphonies including the Orange County Master Chorale, and Pacific Chorale as well as numerous others including being a sought after featured guest artist.
Dennis also had an interesting 30 year gig with Reader’s Digest overseeing their scholarship fundraising program for schools throughout the country. “If you remember selling magazines during school to raise funds for various programs, that’s what I ran for along with instructing and conducting.”
Along with his Wife, Kay, a retired oncologist happens to be the organist at St. Luke’s Dennis, and is a member of the Chorale as a Soprano. The Prescott Chorale presents four productions each season which are the result of a disciplined and dedicated rehearsal schedule and talent.
“During the season, members meet for 2 ½ hour rehearsals on Tuesday evenings, and are expected to complete roughly five hours per week on their own.” Dennis says. “So, it requires someone who is very passionate and dedicated to the works we perform, which include Bach, Brahms, Mozart, Shubert and others.”
Auditions are held twice a year, with singers generally staying with the group for multiple years.
“So, it makes the audition and selection process very difficult.” Dennis says. “You have to evaluate not just the voice and the ability to blend with other voices, but also the longevity of the voice.”
“As we age, our voices age and change just as the rest of our bodies do.” Dennis explains. “There are changes that occur to our voice and vocal chords, which just like any other muscle, even if exercised regularly, diminish in capability.”
Along with board President, Dana Wingate, the two created the idea of The Prescott Chorale to be a self sustaining organization providing superior vocal music performances and bringing classical music performances to the community.
Being a designated 501C3, the Prescott Chorale operates on a very modest budget supported by individual and corporate financial support and grants.
While it’s focus, not all performances are presented in the traditional sense.<br />
For the fall presentation, “Wind Fire Rain” The Soul of American Music brought together Native American and American Spirituals.
“The music I select are pieces that move my heart. Music that exhibits passion and speaks to you.” These selections are ageless, and there is a reason it is timeless.” Dennis says. “Our goal is continue to bring this music to all audiences, especially a younger group. If they don’t hear and experience it, it will not continue to be performed and appreciated.”
This coming weekend, the Chorale will present two concerts – “Christmas Time is here” at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church.
The Friday, December 16th performance at 7pm will feature a varied selection of traditional and joyful music of the season. Saturday at 2pm, the selections take a slightly more relaxed feel aimed more towards families and young children.
He afternoon begins with an audience participation round of caroling, followed by a “toe tapping, fun variety of holiday pieces.” The Chorale will be joined on stage by the Children’s Choir and of course, Mr. & Mrs. Claus.
Following the performance will be a “Cookie Bar Reception” along with a photo op with the man from the north.
Dennis and his crew finish the season Saturday March 4, 2023 presenting “Bach immortal and Whimsical” and “Beethoven Mass in C Major. Op. 86” on April 22, 2023.
Along with performances throughout the year, the organization also provides scholarships to worthy young musicians to further their education.
For information and tickets: presottchorale.com/concerts and to purchase tickets: Yavapai College Performing Arts Center box office 928-776-2000. Tickets are $25 ea for adults, $5 for students, and under 12 free.
Dennis Houser and the Prescott Chorale, bringing and continuing the traditions of the season, during the holidays and beyond.