Naperville Men’s Glee Club celebrates 25th anniversary
By Angela Bender For The Sun February 13, 2013 5:36PM
Presidents' Day Chorus and orchestra at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, Sunday Feb 3, 2013
A short history of the Naperville Men’s Glee Club:
1988 — Bonnie Klee Robert holds the first rehearsal for the Naperville Men’s Glee Club in the sanctuary of the Church of the Brethren
2000 — The club travels to New York City to perform in the New York Choral Festival at Lincoln Center
2003 — The club represents Illinois in the National Festival of the States in Washington, D.C., performing a recital at the Washington National Cathedral, the national anthem on the grounds of the White House, and “Ave Maria” at Arlington National Cemetery
2008 — To celebrate their 20th anniversary, the club represented Illinois in the Festival of the States in Boston
2013 — The club celebrates their 25th anniversary through a series of concerts, locally, and in Washington, D.C., at the National Presidents Day Choral Festival
On the web
For more information about the Naperville Men’s Glee Club, joining the Voices of Hope Chorus, and their upcoming performances, visit www.nmgc.org.
Updated: March 16, 2013 6:11AM
The Naperville Men’s Glee Club plans to celebrate its 25th anniversary by doing lots of the one thing it knows best: entertaining audiences with a year full of singing.
With a long history of community involvement, from mayoral inaugurations to 9/11 tributes to joint performances, the club decided, as they have done every five years in the past, to celebrate this landmark anniversary by adding some distinctive concerts to their schedule.
They kicked off the year by participating in the National Presidents Day Choral Festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.
The concert brought together eight different choral groups, including high school, university and adult choruses, from all over the country. Each group had been working on their music separately. Once they reached Washington, the total of 338 voices, which had never sung together previously, finally practiced together in anticipation of the festival.
The group performed four pieces, including the world premiere musical piece “Let the Word Go Forth,” which was comprised of text from JFK’s most iconic speeches. In addition, three of the four composers were actually present at the concert.
“It was quite an experience,” club member Jeff Kling said.
While in Washington, the 30 men of the club also were able to take in some sightseeing and performed a vespers recital at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
“It was a spectacular setting,” Kling said. “The acoustics in this souring church and the reverberation was an incredible experience as a singer. Just something you never forget.”
The celebratory year will continue this month as they launch the NMGC Voices of Hope Chorus, for which they are recruiting singers. The chorus is intended to provide an opportunity for men and women who have been touched by cancer (patients, survivors, family members, caregivers or friends) to experience the uplifting benefits of joining in song. The first of 10 weeks of rehearsals takes place Feb. 23, after which they will perform a grand concert April 28 at Wentz Concert Hall.
On Oct. 20, the club will hold its 25th anniversary concert, also at Wentz, featuring the Varsity Men’s Glee Club of the University of Illinois, followed by a performance at the Marine Corps Ball in November.
The last 25 years, including this anniversary year, were in large part the vision of Bonnie Klee Roberts, who always has loved the sound of a men’s ensemble. She carried that love with her as she went through college, earning a degree in music, and continuing on through her profession as a teacher.
“I just loved male choral sound,” Roberts said. “I loved their repertoire and their spirit and the camaraderie and fellowship.”
When she moved to Naperville, she thought a men’s group would be of interest to those who lived here. Roberts was a member of the Community Chorus (now called the Naperville Chorus), so she knew some male singers who would get involved. In 1988 she decided to hang some posters, send out some press releases and hold a rehearsal. She was pleasantly surprised when 22 men walked through the door.
“I had no idea who would (attend the first practice), but they all were in balanced parts, which was really kind of amazing. I had them sing the first song and … we knew something special had happened,” said Roberts who, despite the group’s growth and additional staff, is still the director of the club.
Recalling that first rehearsal and looking ahead to this anniversary year, while some members have come and gone, Roberts says much about the group has remained the same.
“That same spark and spirit is still with the group,” Roberts said.