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Jim Martone

Location: New Jersey, USA
 
 
 
Biography
 
The Cathedral Choir had very early beginnings, dating back to 1933, when John Teitsma organized the Te Deum Chorus. Taking the name of the choir from an ancient Latin hymn meaning "We Praise you, O God", he began with sixteen people from the Bethel Christian Reformed Church in Haledon, NJ. In 1935, the group expanded to 100 voices and performed the oratorio, Handel's Messiah, in Central High School, Paterson, NJ, for the first time. In 1938, the choir performed with an orchestra for the first time. To the best of our knowledge, 1941 was the last year the Te Deum Chorus sang the Messiah under the name of that organization. After December 7, 1941, a world war required the services of many of the male singers.

Meanwhile, the Hallelujah Choral Ensemble, which was also organized in 1933 with singers from the Midland Park Christian Reformed Church, Midland Park, NJ, had been giving performances of Handel's Messiah since 1939. In 1943, this group was reinforced by singers from the now defunct Te Deum Chrous and from other churches in the Bergen-Passaic area, calling themselves the Augmented Hallelujah Choral Ensemble, with John Miller as conductor. Except for 1945-46, when it was billed as the Festival Choral Ensemble, the choir retained this name through 1950. In 1951, the group took on the name it has had ever since: The Cathedral Choir.

In the early years, the performances were given at Central High School (1943-48) and Eastside High School (1949-57) in Paterson. After four performances at Bethel Reformed Church in Passaic (1958-60, 62), the concert site shifted to Montclair State College in Upper Montclair, NJ, for fifteen performances (1961, 63-77). From 1978 to present day, the performances have been held at the Hawthorne Gospel Church, Hawthorne,NJ, as the choir needed the largest sanctuary in the area to accommodate the number of people that attend each year. In all those years, however, only one year . . 1972 . . passed without a performance of Messiah by the choir. Besides for performing the Messiah each Christmas season, the choir has widened its scope to also include an occasional spring concert of sacred music, as well as performing other sacred oratorios, such as the Elijah.

Remarkably, the choir has seen only five conductors since its early years. John Miller directed from 1943 to 1957. In 1958, he relinquished the baton to John Vogel who conducted from 1958 to 1975. Lawrence Hoogerhyde began his service as conductor in 1976 and continued until 1986. Frank Jackson directed the choir from 1987 to 1998. Robert F. Davis began his service to the choir in1999 and continues as it's current conductor.

The Cathedral Choir began with a small group of people from local Christian Reformed Churches. Over the years the choir has grown in both size and scope. The choir now averages 145 voices, from numerous evangelical denominations with the members representing over 40 churches in the North Jersey area. Through all the years of growth and change, one constant has remained: the love and the blessing of our gracious triune God!
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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