Canvas Article June 2018




The Chorale was formed in 2004 by Dr. Woomyung Choe, the founding director of the Greater Newburgh Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Choe envisioned a local chorale that would not only collaborate with the orchestra when needed, but would perform concerts of their own that would broaden and enrich the music culture in Newburgh. This continues to be the mission of the Newburgh Chorale.

Through the the years the directorship of the Chorale has changed.  The first concert, a program included Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass and Bach’s Orchestral Suite No. 3 was lead by Rachel Merrill.  The following year, the leadership of the Chorale passed to Claudia Cummings and under her direction the Chorale presented two concerts every year, one in December and  one in June.  Rehearsal were held at Calvary Presbyterian Church, 120 South Street, Newburgh, NY. In March of 2009, Claudia had to withdraw due to health concerns and Ingrid Narkin because the new director of the Chorale.  The new home of the Chorale became St. George's Episcopal Church, at 105 Grand Street, Newburgh, NY amd under Ingrid's able leadership the Chorale continued to perform two concerts every year. In June of 2013, Peter Sipple became the director and brought an new challenging energy to the group. Peter retired following the concert in December 2017 and the new director is Michael Saunders.

Our future will build upon the Chorale’s rich history. In recent years we have performed works of Mozart, Haydn, Charpentier, and Britten; thematic concerts such as Celebrating Earth and Nature Sings; and Christmas concerts that have featured music from the medieval to the present. The singers—all volunteers—come from the greater Newburgh area and as far away as New Paltz, Port Jervis, and Wappingers Falls. Several sing with other ensembles in Orange, Ulster, and Dutchess counties. The Chorale has thrived under the leadership of our extraordinarily talented local choral directors: the late Claudia Cummings, Ingrid Narkin, and the Rev. Dr. Peter Sipple.


The Newburgh Chorale has begun a new chapter in its fourteen-year tenure as Newburgh’s premiere choral ensemble. At their April meeting, the Board of Directors of the GNSO voted to end their support of the Chorale, claiming that “the GNSO has moved in a different direction from the Chorale since Russell Ger became its Music Director.” In anticipation of this new era, the Chorale has created a steering committee to safeguard its future.

Having completed four exceptional Chorale seasons, the Rev. Dr. Peter Sipple and wife, Margaret, have moved out of the area. The Chorale is moving forward with its fourth Artistic Director, Michael Saunders. A Hudson Valley native, Michael has sung with most of the local choral ensembles, including Cappella Festiva, the Classic Choral Society, Hudson Valley BachFest, Kairos, the Kartuli Ensemble, the New Paltz Community Chorale, and the Warwick Valley Chorale. He is also the Director of Music at Grace Episcopal Church in Middletown.

Fans of the Newburgh Chorale will recognize Michael as a mainstay of its bass section and an occasional soloist. Our steering committee’s decision to select a director from within our ranks has made the transition smooth and energetic. The Chorale is currently polishing the repertoire for their annual spring concert, scheduled for Sunday, June 3rd—a provocative and compelling program entitled American Masters, music of Randall Thompson, Aaron Copland, and Leonard Bernstein.