In January, 1970 the church choirs of First United Methodist and University United Methodist combined to sing Vivaldi Gloria. They merged again two years later to present Verdi Requiem. Both works were directed by Lamar Robertson with Donald Allured accompanying at the organ.
On September 28, 1972 the Verdi Requiem was repeated for the celebrated opening of the Lake Charles Civic Center. After other collaborations for Mendelssohn Elijah and Brubeck Light in the Wilderness serious thought was given to organizing a community choir. The founders were Lamar Robertson, Ronald and Anne Brumley, Robert and George Ann Benoit, Dan and Dorothea Harmon, Sylvia Hayes, Jerry Crews, Karen Miller and Dr. Hugh H. Robinson. The Articles of Incorporation were filed February 23, 1977 and Louisiana Choral Foundation was established with Lamar Robertson as Artistic Director. Haydn The Creation, the premier concert, was presented one month later by Masterworks Chorale, the new adult choir of LCF.
Today, rehearsals are held once a week for two and a half hours. Each of the three annual concerts requires 9-12 weeks of preparation. Since its inception over 600 people have sung in Masterworks Chorale. Four members who sang in the 1977 premier and who still sing with the chorale are Lamar Robertson, Abbie Fletcher, Phyllis Morgan, Reta Kasper and Van Schmutz.
The current artistic director of Masterworks Chorale is Dr. Darryl Jones and the accompanist and assistant artistic director is Abbie Fletcher. Dr. Jones is only the second director and has held the position since 2002. Lamar Robertson directed 25 years.
LCF promotes choral singing. Area high school choirs are often guests on LCF concerts, and choral clinicians such as Susan Brumfield and Jill Trinka give public school workshops sponsored by the foundation. LCF also creates original programs such as Mozart Plays the Palace which travel to various schools. Co-sponsorship with McNeese University Banners program brings international choral ensembles such as King Singers and Western Wind to the five parish area.
Both adult and children’s choirs of LCF frequently collaborate with Lake Charles Symphony and other arts organizations to present productions such as Rodgers and Hammerstein The King and I, Oklahoma or Puccini Madame Butterfly and Beethoven Ninth Symphony.
Suite Louisiane is an original production based on historical music of Louisiana both folk and classic. An LCF team researched music for the program in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lafayette and Lake Charles and William Rose arranged it. The production in Fall 1997 celebrated the opening of Central School as a home for arts organizations in Lake Charles.
Louisiana Choral Foundation is a non-profit organization. Masterworks Chorale is composed of community members who like to sing, learn and perform music together. The work of the foundationis supported financially by individuals and corporations. Now and throughout the past grants and special support are awarded for projects by Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Recreation and Tourism in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council as administered by Arts and Humanities Council of SWLA, City of Lake Charles, Southwest Louisiana/Lake Charles Convention & Visitors Bureau, North American Land Company LLC, Sweet Lake Land and Oil Company LLC, Citgo and PPG Industries Inc.
Les Petites Voix
In the 1980’s three public school music teachers, Nelda Boese, Anna Lou Babin and Marie Richardson sang in the Masterworks Chorale during the school year and attended choral music workshops in the summers. The idea for a children’s musical training choir with expanded performance opportunities developed as these women drove to and from their summer workshops. After discussion with the artistic director, Lamar Robertson, they formed the children’s choir in 1983. Les Petites Voix (LPV) became the second choir under the foundation with Nelda Boese, conductor and Marie Richardson, accompanist. The children sang on the LCF Christmas program that year and continue to sing annually on holiday concerts.
LPV participated in the collaborations with Lake Charles Symphony in Bizet Carmen and Orff Carmena Burana, and appeared with Amy Rentrop Chaffin singing portions of Rodgers and Hammerstein The Sound of Music. LPV mounted two productions of Benjamin Britten’s delightful Noye’s Fludde. On May 12, 2002 the children gave their first solo concert at Rosa Hart Theater. Since that time they have presented annual Spring concerts at Central School, Historic City Hall and Lake Charles-Boston Academy of Learning.
LPV continues to meet once a week for vocal and choral training by qualified music teachers who often hold Kodaly certificates as specialists in children’s musical education. The children come from every part of the parish, often recommended by public school music teachers. There is a training choir for very young children to prepare them for LPV.
The present LPV director is Kari McCarty and the accompanist is Annette Larsen, who also holds Kodaly certification. Peggy Lee Fletcher directs the training choir. Past directors of LPV include Nelda Boese, Alison Peltz, Ann Eisen, Susan Tevis, Lamar Robertson and Michele White. Deanna Kolde is past director of LPV Preparatory Choir.