Chorale Celebrates 41st All Saints’ Day Concert

BY ALEX GRUBER

The Dudley Birder Chorale of St. Norbert College presented its 41 annual All Saints’ Day Concert on Saturday, Nov. 1 at 7:30 p.m. in the Walter Theatre on campus. Songs in the program included Mozart’s “Coronation Mass,” John Rutter’s “Requiem,” Gustav Holst’s “Turn Back O Man,” and other pieces. The choir and accompanying orchestra also performed a newly orchestrated arrangement of “God of Music,”Guide Our Song,” a piece by Blake Henson, the College’s composer-in-residence, commissioned for the Chorale’s 40 anniversary last year.

The All Saints’ Day Concert began 41 years ago when a Norbertine canon and close friend of Birder’s died of a heart attack. Birder decided to conduct a concert on All Saints’ Day in memory of his friend, and he combined the Chamber Singers of St. Norbert College with community members to form a chorus of 55 singers for the event. Thus began the Dudley Birder Chorale, named the Collegiate Chorale at that time.

Birder continued the concert the next year and made it a general event for the Norbertine and Green Bay communities. The All Saints’ Day Concert has begun the Chorale’s performance season ever since. The group also gives a Holiday Pops concert with the Green Bay Symphony Orchestra each December, a concert at St. Norbert Abbey with the college choirs in early spring and an America Sings concert in May.

“The All Saints’ Day concert is my favorite,” Birder said. “I basically get to choose the songs I like.”

The Dudley Birder Chorale has 150 auditioned members. A full (26-piece) orchestra, including four students and six faculty members of St. Norbert College, accompanied the group at the concert. The concert also featured four soloists, two from the college’s faculty.

Tickets, normally $20, were $5 for students on the night of the performance at the box office outside of the Walter Theatre.

Birder, whose Chorale was named after him and given a million-dollar endowment close to 10 years ago, loves his work just as much as when he started at St. Norbert College in 1958. He retired from teaching in 1993 but still conducts the Chorale and music theatre at the college.

On his career and enjoyment of it, Birder succinctly stated, “This is what I do.”

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