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In the fall of 1975, Dr. Gerald Darrow, the Choral Musician in the Music Department at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville at that time and Allen Schaver, a local businessman, planned and organized the Platteville Chorale. They saw the need and the opportunity to begin something great for community.
Approximately 36 singers began rehearsals on October 2, 1975, under the direction of Gerald Darrow and presented a series of four concerts in local churches on November 8, 9 and 16. They joined the University of Wisconsin-Platteville Choir in a presentation of the Messiah on December 9.
Original officers for the new organization included: Allen Schaver, president; Lillian Richert, Treasurer; Jean Burnham and Claudia Campbell, Membership; Grace Jeffery and Paul Ipsen, Finance; Doug Throckmorton and Tom Hickey, Publicity. Gerald Darrow was the director, Becky Schaver was the accompanist. All of the above were on the Board of Directors. Allen Schaver led the organization through the spring of 1982, when he and Becky moved away from Platteville.
In the spring of 1978, the Platteville Chorale Board, planned and organized a Summer Music Festival. This consisted of two concerts on Friday, July 14 and Sunday, July 16. The guest conductor was one of the country’s most respected young conductors, William McGlaughlin. He was the conductor of the superb St. Paul Chamber Orchestra at the time. Professional soloists were engaged for the event. For the orchestra and chorus, this was a week-long event with rehearsals at the beginning of the week. The event was co-sponsored by the Platteville Arts Council and the UWP Music Department. This program had a 16-year run with William McGlaughlin serving as guest conductor for 10 consecutive years.
Following the departure of Allen Schaver, Thomas Hickey served as president of the Chorale from 1982 till 1994. Lillian Richert served as Treasurer for the Chorale through the fall of 2001 and the Summer Music Festival for its entire existence.
Dr. Darrow retired from the University in 1992 as well as from conducting the Chorale. His tenure as conductor with the Chorale was 22 years. Dr. Robert Demaree, who followed Dr. Darrow in the UWP Music Department, became director in the fall of 1992. The group had some wonderful years, and he helped greatly through some transitions, both with the Chorale and the Children’s Choir. He resigned from the Chorale in the spring of 1998. Dr. Jeffery Pappas, choral director at Clarke College in Dubuque, directed the Chorale in the 1998-99 season. Dr. Darrow, came out of retirement and directed the Chorale for two seasons from 1999 to 2001. Gregory Dennis, choral director at the Mt. Horeb High School in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin, sang with the Chorale for the 2000-2001 season and became the director in the fall of 2001. He has been the director since that time. Gregory Dennis is the son of Mr. William Dennis, who was “Mr. Music” at UWP for many years from the early 1940s into the 1960s.
The Platteville Children’s Choir was established in 1989 by the Platteville Chorale. The Platteville Children’s Choir is officially an operation of The Platteville Chorale, Inc., and is governed by the bylaws of that organization.
In 1994, the Platteville Chorale was reorganized and established as an official non-profit corporation in the State of Wisconsin. It has achieved 501c3 status. Its first officers were Dwight Klaassen, President; Arletta Giese, Vice-President; Tom Hickey, Secretary; and Lil Richert, Treasurer. The Platteville Chorale, Inc., is operated by a nine-member Board of Directors, is governed by bylaws, and is responsible for the operation of the Platteville Children’s Choir. Dwight Klaassen currently continues as president of the organization.