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Carthage Choir History

In its youngest years, while under the direction of founding director Elmer Hanke, the Carthage College A Cappella Choir was well known through its performances on national radio broadcasts and was the first touring choir to perform at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Upon Prof. Hanke’s death, Prof. William P. Roth assumed direction of the choir and continued the choir’s touring a cappella tradition. In the early 1960s, Prof. Roth conducted the Choir in an Easter Sunday performance at Red Rocks Park in Denver and led the Choir on its first tour to Europe. 

Dr. John Windh, director of the Carthage Choir from 1966 to 1999, continued the tradition of touring domestically and began a tradition that continues today of touring Central Europe every three years during the College’s January term. Under the direction of Dr. Windh, the Carthage Choir performed in 30 states in the Midwest, the East, the South and Canada, and toured nine times to 13 European countries.

During those years, the annual Christmas Festivals grew enormously in size and popularity. In 1998, the first Carthage Alumni Choir toured Europe, with appearances in Prague, Slavkov, Breclav, Vienna, Salzburg and at St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice. Those European contacts led to concerts at Carthage over the years by groups from West Germany, East Germany, France, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovenia and Russia. During Dr. Windh’s tenure, the choir sang frequently at state music conventions and with the Racine and Kenosha symphonies, and performed Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in Milwaukee’s Performing Arts Center and Duke Ellington’s Second Concert of Sacred Music with Ellington and his orchestra.

Prof. Gregory Berg assumed direction of the Carthage Choir upon Dr. Windh’s retirement. Under Prof. Berg’s direction, the choir was invited to sing at the state convention of the Wisconsin Music Educators Association in Madison, Wis., in 2001 and in the Midwest premiere of Ken Medema’s The Weaver with the composer.

The Carthage Choir was joined by the Carthage Community Chorus and an Alumni Choir directed by former directors William Roth and John Windh as it celebrated its 75th anniversary with a gala concert on April 22, 2001. The concert featured the world premiere of Psalm 90, composed by and under the direction of Carthage alumnus Dr. Michael Burkhardt, internationally known organist-composer-choral director. The work was commissioned by the Music Department to commemorate the choir’s anniversary.

In Spring 2001, Dr. Burkhardt was appointed college organist and director of choral activities. He assumed direction of the Carthage Choir in August 2001. The choir made several tours to the southwest and northeast United States during Dr. Burkhardt’s tenure, in addition to maintaining the tradition of European tours every three years.

Weston Noble, one of the most distinguished conductors and music educators of our time, assumed the role of conductor-in-residence of the Carthage Choir in the 2007-08 academic year. Mr. Noble led the choir on its Midwest tour of Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois and was awarded an honorary doctorate by the College during the 2008 commencement ceremony. He concluded his appointment by leading the Carthage Choir and instrumental forces in a memorable performance of John Rutter’s Mass of the Children. He has maintained his connection with Carthage by returning annually to work with the choral and instrumental ensembles.

The Carthage Choir’s current director is Dr. Eduardo Garcia-Novelli, who joined the Carthage faculty in August 2008. Under his leadership, the choir toured Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, and Hungary in 2009; Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Scotland in 2012; and Spain in 2015. The January 2018 tour includes Hungary, Slovenia, and Italy. Carthage Choir was selected to perform before the membership of Wisconsin Music Educators Association (WMEA) in October of 2009, and again in October of 2012, both in Madison, WI. The Choir was honored with an invitation from the Wisconsin Choral Directors Association (WCDA) to perform before its membership in January of 2011 (Green Bay, Wis.), in January of 2014 (Milwaukee, Wis.), and in January of 2017 (Wausau, Wis.). The January 2018 tour included Hungary, Slovenia, and Italy. Carthage Choir won first prize in the Folksong Category and also first prize in the Classical Category at the prestigious Spittal International Choir Competition in the city of Spittal, Austria, in July of 2019.

In May of 2011 the choir had the distinct honor of presenting a solo performance at Carnegie Hall, New York City.

The Carthage Choir has premiered a number of compositions, including works by graduates and members of the Carthage faculty: Gregory Berg, Michael Burkhardt ’79, Peter Dennee ’86, Mark Petering, Brian Schoettler ’11, and Thomas Vigneri ’83. The choir had the honor of premiering O nata lux by renowned Norwegian-American composer Ola Gjeilo.

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2021), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • The Tower, Carthage’s newest residence hall, provides some of the best views on campus — if not in the Midwest! In addition to #carthageviews of the lake from seven stories up, residents enjoy suite-style living and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about all housing options.

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wings, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • More than 90% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit The Aspire Center.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. More than 90% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • Carthage has ranked as a top Fulbright producer for four of the past five years. Read about Carthage Fulbright winners.

    • Peer-reviewed student and faculty pedagogy projects have been presented at the International Conference on the Physiology and Acoustics of Singing, the International Conference on Arts and Humanities, the International Symposium on the Phenomenon of the Singing Voice, and the Estill World Voice Symposium at Harvard University.

    • Carthage voice faculty and students are active in voice science research, utilizing Voce Vista and Voice Print software in our voice lab setting. Students have presented their projects at regional, national, and international conferences.

    • The Carthage Chamber Music Series brings four internationally renowned ensembles to campus each year to interact with music students. Performers have included Anonymous 4, the Imani Winds, the Deadalus Quartet, the Manhattan Brass, and the Waverly Consort. 

    • Carthage music ensembles have been selected to premiere new and commissioned works, providing our students with meaningful opportunities to collaborate with nationally and internationally recognized composers such as Ola Gjeilo, Stacy Garrop, Patrick Long, Tom Vignieri, and Alex Shapiro.

    • Carthage students have been selected through competitive regional, national, and international auditions for exceptional young artist development programs, such as the Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium, Rocky Ridge Music Festival, and the Open Jar Institute in New York.

    • Carthage voice students are actively involved in the National Association of Teachers of Singing, and exceptional Carthage singers have frequently earned state honors in classical and music theatre voice.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our science center, student union, athletic and recreation center, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 15 years.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors, and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from marketing to neuroscience, nursing to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our more than 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • More than 90 percent of students receive financial aid. Carthage awards more than $20 million in scholarship and grant assistance. That includes $5.5 million in competitive scholarships in business, mathematics, science, languages, the fine arts, leadership, and overall academic strength. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” recalls biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 35 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from $25,000 up to full tuition. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about Intellectual Foundations.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 13:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 130 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Fencing to Frisbee, Chem Club to Stand Up Comedy. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked in the Top 5 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …