Every year, as Christmas nears, I look forward to the many televised holiday musical specials. A favorite has always been the offering from PBS of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert. I have always found the sound of many human voices singing in beautiful harmony a wonder and an inspiration, and so on my personal bucket list has been two goals: to maybe one day attend the Mormon Tabernacle Christmas concert in person, and also to be a part of a large and powerful group of voices, delivering wonder and inspiration to others.
Two years ago, the Musichorale choir came to Christ Lutheran for a concert, and as a member of our Christ Choir, I was given the opportunity to sing with this group. I was hooked. One bucket list objective …checked.
I am thrilled to now be a regular member of this choir, thanks to the invitation from another Christ Choir member, Judy Venkus, and am looking forward to the choir’s return to Christ Lutheran this Christmas season.
Here is a brief history of this talented group that will singing at Christ Lutheran on December 3rd at 3pm:
Musichorale began in 1947 as the Lindblom Alumni A Capella Choir under the direction of Mr. Arthur Silhan with 25 voices from the high school choir. Phyllis Ballin (soon to become Mrs. Arthur Silhan) was the first accompanist. Before long, the choir had grown to include more than just alumni, so the name was changed to Chicago Choral Club, before finally becoming Musichorale in 1957. Arthur’s elder son, Jeffrey, became director in 1980, a natural progression since he had been singing since the formation of Musichorale Miniatures in 1957. Rehearsals began at the Ogden Park field house and then moved to Marquette Park. Musichorale has owned two buildings: first at 59th and Sacramento, and then the old Clearing Town Hall on 63rd Street in 1971. Since 1998, the choir’s home has been at Christian Assembly Church (formerly Oak Lawn Community Church) at 90th and Ridgeland where they are renting space and have built a garage for equipment and trailer storage. Musichorale has sung many weddings, dedications, parties, and concerts in some of the most prestigious venues around Chicagoland. From Symphony Center and the Wrigley Building Restaurant to casual outdoor venues and local restaurants, Musichorale continues to thrive after 70 years.
After more than 48 years singing with the chorus, and 37 years as its director, Jeffrey Silhan retired this past May. As Director Emeritus, he will enjoy a position of counselor, consultant and confidante to his daughter, Sarah Koehler, as she has taken the reins as of September 2017. Mrs. Koehler has spent almost all of her life in Musichorale, becoming a Minicherub at age 2 ½. In addition to her new role with Musichorale, Mrs. Koehler is currently the full-time choral accompanist for H.L. Richards High School in Oak Lawn, as well as the instrumental music director for Lansing Presbyterian Church in Lansing, IL. She also works as an adjunct instructor of English and Communication at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Heights.
Under her dad’s tutelage, we have every confidence that Mrs. Koehler will carry Musichorale into our next decade of singing! Thanks to Mr. Silhan and his family, Musichorale will carry on the tradition of excellence begun more than 70 years ago.