The story of the Grand Forks Chorales begins in 1983 when the Grand Forks Master Chorale was organized as a semi-professional choir by Terry Eder, director; Tom Peterson, associate director; and Al Gratz and Mike Hamerlik. That year, 32 members of the Master Chorale presented their first concert Dec. 18 at Holy Family Catholic Church in Grand Forks.
In 2013, the Grand Forks Master Chorale expanded to include a community chorus, giving more singers in the area the opportunity to sing great choral music by renowned composers and area composers. Together, the two choirs are known as the Grand Forks Chorales. Membership in the community chorus is open to anyone who wishes to sing with the group. Members of the Master Chorale are required to audition and meet certain requirements. Since 1983, the Grand Forks Chorales have been performing high-quality choral music for audiences around the area, as well as Fargo-Moorhead, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Winnipeg.
The Grand Forks Chorales draw talented singers from Grand Forks, East Grand Forks and throughout the region. At times, one-third of the membership has been from outside Grand Cities. Over the past 35 years, more than 400 singers have participated in the Chorales; many have sung for more than 20 years and two have surpassed the 30-year mark.
For years, the Chorales have presented four local concerts annually, under the baton of directors including Terry Eder, James Rodde, Nolan Long, Susan McMane, Michael Weber, John Nero, Joshua Bronfman and, currently, Dean Jilek. The final concert of each season is called the "Masterworks" concert, a large-scale performance including guest choirs and often a full orchestra. The group has also presented numerous concerts in communities throughout the area, mostly in churches in the northern Red River Valley.
Members of the Grand Forks Chorales have shared the stage with guest artists, area and Canadian choirs, the Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra, and the Winnipeg Symphony. On numerous occasions, UND choirs have also joined the Chorales in performances, including the annual concert featuring selections from Handel's "Messiah" at the annual "Messiah Sing-along." For many people in this area, the event has become a beloved tradition to welcome the Christmas holiday season.
In the past, the Grand Forks Chorales presented the "Folk on the Red Concerts," which included folk songs, as well as food served by area organizations representing various ethnic groups.
Leaders and members of the Grand Forks Chorales are committed to pursuing excellence in the performance of choral music at a high level of quality. They are also dedicated to expanding the role of choral music in the cultural life of the region, to engage students and music professionals through music education and mentoring, and to enrich the lives of area residents through performance.
On two occasions, the group has qualified, by audition, to participate at the annual meeting of the American Choral Directors Association, once in Milwaukee, Wisc., and once in Des Moines, Iowa. In 2002, the Chorales performed at Assumption Abbey, a Benedictine monastery and historic church in Richardton, N.D., for the celebration of its remodeled sanctuary.
The Grand Forks Chorales were part of the Can-Am Choir, based in Winnipeg, in 1994, 1996 and 1998. That choir also included concert choirs from UND, North Dakota State University, the University of Manitoba of Winnipeg and the Brandon University Chorale of Brandon, Man. Concerts were performed with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.