Metropolitan Chorale is a rare treasure unique to the Cedar Valley.

How many communities this size boast a choral group made up entirely of volunteers whose reward is the music itself?

Our “Met Chorale,” as it’s affectionately known, draws people from more than a dozen area cities. Members represent a host of careers, from farmers and doctors to factory workers and teachers. They log long hours, fund the group and churn out two labor-intensive concerts each year.

Many members sang in school and/or church choirs. A few are professional musicians. Some simply like to sing. The attraction is an opportunity to perform challenging choral works — Vivaldi, Hadyn and the group’s beloved presentations of Handel’s “Messiah.”

On April 6, Met Chorale will host a “Unity Concert” at West Waterloo High School. The concert begins at 3 p.m., and admission is free and open to the community. A reception with light refreshments will follow the concert.

The event celebrates “the wonderful diversity we have in the Cedar Valley and provides an opportunity to come together in a spirit of unity,” says Pam Wagner, a Met Chorale member.

The chorale wants others to join them in singing during this concert, adds Wagner. In addition, members of the community can showcase talents, traditions, foods and other cultural elements with lobby displays before and after the concert. For more information, email MetChorale@gmail.com, PJWagnerX@gmail.com or AKotsonis@hotmail.com. General concert information is available at www.MetChorale.com

The event is part of the group’s year-long celebration of its 65th anniversary. The group was founded in 1954 as the Waterloo Choral Association with the goal of providing local singers an opportunity to perform “Messiah.”

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In those days, Met Chorale was a program of the former Waterloo Recreation and Arts Commission. It also has ties to the Waterloo Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, which sponsored early events. (Some local guild members lend their voices to the chorale, too.)

Amy Kotsonis is the group’s 15th conductor, having served as artistic director since January 2015. She is assistant professor of choral ensembles and music education at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, where she also conducts the UNI Singers and Women’s Chorus.

Over the years, Met Chorale has grown in membership and repertoire, with performances of Mozart, Bach, Dvorak and many others. The group’s purpose has remained focused on providing opportunities for local residents to perform varied choral music for personal and community enjoyment.

Today’s members pay dues and buy their own music. Area businesses and individuals also provide donations, and the group has received grants from Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa and Guernsey Foundation.

Average membership includes 75 voices, and the ranks can swell to 100 or more. A typical season includes a fall and spring concert and other events.

Among the other notable Met Chorale offerings are Cedar Valley Beer Choir gatherings at SingleSpeed Brewing Co. in Waterloo and other locations.

Beer Choir is exactly what it sounds like: show up, sing choral music and enjoy beer. The next gathering is a May 5 road trip to Limestone Brewers in Osage. Watch Facebook.com/CedarValleyBeerChoir/ for details and upcoming event information. Brush up on Beer Choir skills by downloading a free Beer Choir Hymnal at www.Met-Chorale.com/beer-choir.

Karris Golden writes The Courier’s weekly faith and values column. Email her at onfaith@karrisgolden.com.


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