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It Was 60 Years Ago Today! The Chorale’s First Performance

That “mid-century modern” day—October 11, 1958—was one of some important firsts.

NASA successfully launched its first spacecraft, Pioneer 1.

Tommy Edwards had a number 1 hit with “It’s All in the Game,” the first (and, we think, only) number one hit record co-written by either a US vice president or Nobel laureate (Charles Dawes was both).

Meanwhile in Hal and Timona Pittman’s Phoenix living room, furniture was being moved and preparations were being made in anticipation of an open house arts event, jubilantly called “Vive les arts.”

The Pittmans displayed the paintings and sculpture of local artists and, Mark Lawlor writes in his history of the Phoenix Chorale, “a small group of singers gathered and entertained the guests with six madrigals and one newly-composed work. The audience was delighted. The local cultural and architectural reviewer from the Arizona Republic, Anson Cutts, commented upon the group’s singing: ‘Exquisite tone and sensitivity.’”

Founded 4-5 months earlier, this was the first performance of the Bach & Madrigal Society of Phoenix, the original name of the Phoenix Chorale.

As Lawlor reports, these were the songs listed in the program on that day:

• “O occhi, manza mia – Orland di Lasso 1532-1594
• April is in my Mistress’ face – Thomas Morley 1557-1603
• Innsbruck, ich muss dich lassen – Heinrich Isaac 1450-1517
• Memory – Clara Dyer  1958 (written by a member of the group)
• Shoot, false love, I care not – Thomas Morley 1557-1603
• Matona, mia cara – Orlando di Lasso 1532-1594
• Sing we and chant it – Thomas Morley 1557-1603″

The Society would go on to make its first public performance later that year in December at West (Phoenix) High School. It would then continue to “delight” audiences with its “exquisite tone” for the next 60 years.


Please join us for spectacular music and special events as we celebrate our 60th Season!

“Phoenix’s “Hip Historian” Marshall Shore will entertain and educate us on Tuesday October 16 at 6:30 pm with stories about Phoenix in the mid-20th century. The setting couldn’t be better—First United Methodist Church in Phoenix, a mid-century architectural icon established in 1958 just like us!

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And don’t miss a note of our second concert series! Artistic Director Finalist James Bass offers an interesting twist on “Mid-Century Modern” with a program of music by composers born in the middle of the 20th Century and music from the middle 19th Century—from Brahms’s “O schöne Nacht” to Paul Crabtree’s “Romantic Miniatures from The Simpsons,” and more.

More information about our “Mid-Century Modern” concert conducted by Artistic Director Candidate James Bass

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