Dubuque Chorale celebrates 40 years of music-making - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque Chorale celebrates 40 years of music-making

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The Dubuque Chorale performed its 40th anniversary concert Sunday afternoon at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Dubuque The Dubuque Chorale performed its 40th anniversary concert Sunday afternoon at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Dubuque
DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

The Dubuque Chorale has a longstanding tradition in the tri-state area, and it held its 40th anniversary concert Sunday afternoon at Westminster Presbyterian Church.

Members, however, say they're making more than just music.

Joyce Johnson has been a member since late 1981 and said Dubuque Chorale has been a consistent part of her marriage.

"My husband and I are both in the chorale, so it's something that we enjoy doing together," Johnson said. "It's been the most rewarding experience my husband and I have had in our married life, aside from our family and church."

It's a family affair for member and Dubuque Chorale board of directors president Mark Oppedahl, too.

"My mom sings with me. She's in the front row, with the sopranos," he said Sunday before the concert.

Some members make quite a commute, such as Melissa Jensen's three-hour round trip.

"My husband's job changed about 20 years ago, and we moved to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls area, so I've been driving back and forth every Thursday," Jensen, a native Dubuquer, said.

The choir is filled with examples of commitment. Madeline Oglesby got married on Saturday-- the day before the concert.

"Well, I decided not to go on our honeymoon right away so that I could participate in the 40th anniversary concert," Oglesby said. "If I didn't participate in this concert, it would be about a year in between concerts for me and that's just too long."

"It's more than just singing," the group's director Bob Demaree said. "It's a community of people who are interested in the same thing, and, the truth is, that when that interpersonal connection is really good, it really infuses the music. It informs the music. It makes it more human."

The Dubuque Chorale brings together people of all ages.

"From someone in her 20s who sits on my left to someone who's much older who sits on my right," Oglesby said.

"The blend of the young and the mature voices is a real joy," Johnson said.

In its 40 years, the group has had more than 1,000 community members come and go.

"There really is a very close family atmosphere here," Demaree said.

"It's warm, it's caring, and I think that's part of the thing that keeps everybody committed to it," Jensen said.

In its 40-year history, the Dubuque Chorale has performed for more than 40,000 people and had just three directors. The group started in 1971, and Dennis Williams was the choir's director for about 35 years.

Future plans for the Dubuque Chorale include a children's choir and a chamber group.

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