ABOUT US

The Toledo Choral Society has performed Handel's Messiah every year since its 1919 establishment. Members of the Society look forward to continuing the tradition of performing beautiful choral music as the Society approaches its 100th Anniversary in 2019. 

THE MEMBERS:
The Toledo Choral Society currently has nearly one hundred members who come from all over the Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan region. We are students to retirees, diverse in our ethnic and cultural heritage, our religious backgrounds, and occupations. We are bonded by our love for performing outstanding choral works

Artistic Director

Richard Napierala, II

Richard Napierala is a life-long Northwest Ohio resident living in Monclova, Ohio.  He holds a Bachelor of Education and Masters in Music Performance from the University of Toledo. 

In 2012, Rick became the fourth musical director of the Toledo Choral Society. Under his leadership, the Choral Society has performed both classical and contemporary works such as Faure’s Requiem, Mozart’s Missa Brevis in C, John Rutter’s Gloria, Ola Gjeilo’s Sunrise Mass, Haydn’s Creation, and Handel’s Messiah. Rick has also been instrumental in expanding the Choral Society’s repertoire to showcase contemporary composers, premiering works by American composer Gwyneth Walker and Toledo composer David Jex. Rick has been actively engaged in the membership and musical growth of the Society through collaborative efforts with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, the University of Findlay Concert Chorale, and the Alma Drum and Dance Experience.  These efforts have allowed traditional and non-traditional audiences to be exposed to the beauty and excitement of contemporary choral music.

Rick was instrumental in creating the Samuel P. Szor Scholarship, which financially supports a graduate conducting student.  To date, he has selected and mentored five scholarship recipients. In addition to Rick’s responsibilities with the Toledo Choral Society, he serves as the Director of Athletic Bands at the University of Findlay and the Conductor at Terra State Choral Society in Fremont, Ohio.  He is also active in other facets of music performance and education, including being a clinician and guest conductor for honors ensembles and high school bands, and actively performing in instrumental and vocal ensembles in the Northwest Ohio area.  He holds life membership in Kappa Kappa Psi (a National Band Honorary and Service Fraternity) and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia (a National Music Social Fraternity which is dedicated to the preservation and advancement of music in America), and is a member of the Ohio Music Education Association and NAME: The National Association for Music Education.

Rick looks forward to celebrating the Choral Society’s Centennial in June 2020 with a concert at the Toledo Museum of Art’s Peristyle. The ‘Centennial Jubilee’ will feature the debut of Gwyneth Walker’s Great Lakes Cantata, seven movements that evoke the spirit of the Great Lakes.

Our Founder

Mary Willing Meagley, 1879-1968

Mary Louise Willing was born in October of 1878 and received her first musical instruction when 8 years old from her father, Professor William Willing, concert pianist, organist, and composer. She and her sister Abbie often performed in local church programs, Mary at the piano and Abbie on the violin.

She was a pupil of Louis Mathias at the age of twelve and at only sixteen she went into the
highly technical study of music with John Emil Ecker. She made her debut as pianist with the Toledo Maennerchor at Memorial Hall. She gave a recital a year later in the old St. Paul's Church. She was one of the few "outsiders" ever permitted to perform with the strictly German Toledo Maennerchor group.

She continued the study of piano upon her father's death with Allie Finch, her father's pupil, and continued with Nellie Goodwin, singer. She then took a short course in harmony from Arthur W. Kortheuer at the Smead School for Girls, continuing piano lessons, a complete course of instruction in piano, harmony, and counterpoint. About that time Miss Willing wrote her first song, "The Secret". Her song "Memory" was used by several great artists at the time. Besides secular songs, she wrote a number of sacred anthems.

After two months with S. D. Cushing, organist at the First Congregational Church and a pupil of Guilmant, Miss Willing was engaged as organist of St. Mark's Episcopal Church. She retained this position for ten years and succeeded Charles H. Thompson upon death as choir director.

Miss Willing considered that to read and understand a full orchestral score is the highest possible musical joy. When elected conductor of the Toledo Choral Society, she resolved to direct always from full orchestral score.

 During Mary Willing Meagley’s 35 years as conductor of the Toledo Choral Society, works by 32 composers were performed by the organization. Included in these works were those by Mrs. Meagley herself and the late David Stanley Smith, another Toledo composer. Before her retirement as director of the Choral Society in 1954, Mrs. Meagley was widely known for the annual Christmas presentation of Handel's The Messiah, a tradition still carried on by the Choral Society.

In addition to conducting the Toledo Choral Society, which at one time had 375 voices, Mrs. Willing Meagley directed high school music and taught music appreciation classes at the former Smead School for Girls. She was organist and director of the Ashland Avenue Baptist Church, concert accompanist and coach, teacher of piano, organ, harmony and counterpoint and division director of the Ohio Federation of Music Clubs. She was a member of the Zonta Club and held membership in the Sarnagarna Club. She was the first president of the Toledo Piano Teachers Association and was one of a group to establish music credits in public schools. She was president of the Ohio Music Teachers Association and affiliated with the Toledo chapter of Monday Musicals, American Guild of Organists, Euterpean Club, and Mu Phi Epsilon sorority.

Mary Willing Meagley passed away in 1968 and in memory of this grand lady of Toledo and area music the Toledo Choral Society respectfully dedicated its 50th anniversary season, 1968-1969, to her.

Accompanist

Andreea Lee

Andreea Lee holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music Performance from the National University of Music from Bucharest, Romania and a Master’s degree in Music Performance from the University of Toledo. There, she also completed a graduate assistantship in the Department of Music as a regular accompanist for The University of Toledo Opera Ensemble Productions.  She competed in international piano competitions, winning awards such as “Maryse Cheilan” in Hyeres, France, “Konzerteum International Competition” in Athens, Greece. In Salerno, Italy, she received the “Cava di Tirreni” trophy and a special award for the best Mozart performance.Andreea performed a variety of chamber music and solo recitals in churches, concert halls and private venues in Paris, Venice, Rome, Budapest, Vienna, Berlin, Liege, Brussels, Nagoya and Boston, with a repertoire that ranged from Baroque era to Contemporary. She performed live and recorded on several occasions for National Television and Broadcast Radio of Romania, Arte Belgique, and WGTE in Toledo. As an active collaborative pianist, Andreea accompanied singers and instrumentalists in competitions and recitals in the last 15 years in Europe and the United States. At the age of 19, she received her first award as the best accompanist in Romania. Being versed in several languages, she has assisted opera students in the subtleties of foreign expressions and accents. Currently she accompanies the Toledo Choral Society and Terra State Choral Society.

Samuel P Szor

Director, 1958-2012

Since 1953, Samuel Szor has been an integral part of Toledo's music scene, earning him the title of Toledo's "Mr. Music." Before completing a master's degree at the University of Michigan, he began his career as the conductor/music director of the immensely popular Music Under the Stars summer concert series held at the Toledo Zoo. For sixty summers he conducted the Toledo Concert Band for a weekly crowd averaging 4,000 fans.

Although an accomplished instrumentalist, having played bassoon with the Toledo Symphony, the Toledo Opera Orchestra and the University of Toledo Woodwind Quintet and Trio, since 1968 he has focused only on conducting. In addition to Music Under the Stars, he has served as conductor/music director of opera and musical theatre at the University of Toledo and the Kerwin Ballet Theatre. Since 1979 he also frequently conducted The Toledo Symphony Orchestra in special concerts and served as conductor of the Symphony's well-received Casual Concert series from 1991-2002. Guest conducting took him to Flint, MI and also to New York City to lead the famous Goldman Memorial Band. And during his twenty seasons as conductor/music director of the Perrysburg Symphony, he led that group to an unprecedented level of excellence.

In the choral realm, he served as conductor/music director of The Toledo Choral Society for fifty-four years, sustaining the annual presentation of Handel's Messiah as well as delivering other major choral works to Toledo audiences. During his tenure, he chose masterpieces from all periods, several of which were Toledo premiers, contributing to the Society's reputation for presenting the finest in choral music. Church music was another area benefitting from his knowledge and skills where he gave over forty years. Congruent with these activities, he served thirty-two and a half years as a professional educator at the secondary and college levels.

Mr. Szor has received numerous awards for his distinguished work. Most recently, in 2003, he

received the Ovation Award from the Vocal Arts Resource Network of Ohio, and in 2007 a Toledo

Jefferson Award

Samuel P Szor Scholarship Recipient

Shelvin Burns

A native of Detroit, Shelvin J. Burns holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Performance (Voice) from Claflin University, located in Orangeburg, SC. Shelvin is currently pursuing his Master of Music Education (Choral) degree from Bowling Green State University. While enrolled at BGSU, Shelvin serves as the Graduate Assistant for the undergraduate “Intro to Music Education” course, preparing, supervising, and mentoring pre-service music educators. Shelvin has had the opportunity to work with and conduct choirs such as the BGSU A Cappella Choir, Collegiate Chorale, Men’s Chorus, Recital Choir, and Honor Choirs. Additionally, he serves as Graduate Advisor for The Voices at BGSU Concert Choir, a student led organization consisting of volunteer students across the campus, majority non-music majors geared toward the preservation and performance of African-American Spirituals. Shelvin serves as the Choir Director at St. John Lutheran Church in Port Clinton, Ohio and is a member of the American Choral Directors Association and National Association for Music Educators. Upon completion of his Master of Music Education degree, Shelvin plans to teach high school chorus, and plans to pursue a terminal degree in Choral Conducting or Music Education in the near future.

Director, 1954-1958

Lester McCoy

Upon Mary Willing's retirement in 1954 as director of the Toledo Choral Society, the organization began the long process of selecting a new director who might fill the void left by Miss Willing's retirement. Such a director was found in Lester McCoy. Mr. McCoy came to the Choral Society with excellent credentials as a distinguished church music and choral administrator. He served as associate conductor of the University Musical Society at Ann Arbor, Michigan, and prepared the chorus and soloists each year for the annual May Festival there with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Mr. McCoy also served as minister of music at the First Methodist Church of Ann Arbor and conducted the Livonia Civic Chorus and the Transylvania Music Camp chorus. Under the leadership of Mr. McCoy, the Toledo Choral' Society was reorganized, incorporated, and placed on a professional basis. Mr. McCoy was affiliated with Musical Youth International, Inc. as musical director. Mr McCoy passed away in 1969.

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Margaret Weber,
Accompanist Emeritus

It is with a heavy heart that we share of the passing of the one and only Margaret Weber. She left this Earth on June 15th 2018 at the ripe young age of 101. The Toledo Choral Society was blessed to have her as our Accompanist for over 50 years, having worked with 3 of our 4 Directors, starting with our founder. The Toledo Choral Society and the Toledo musical community mourn the loss of an amazing woman. 
 

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