One of Houston’s oldest non-profit choral groups, the Bay Area Chorus has brought heartfelt performances to Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast since 1965. Long before the population of the Houston metroplex expanded to the shores of Clear Lake, this thriving choral group had already built a following among local residents and in surrounding communities.
More than 90 singers bring unique interests, ethnicity and cultural experiences to the group and represent a variety of professions as diverse as Houston itself. In addition to performing choral masterworks, this all-volunteer chorus also programs traditional holiday music, historic and contemporary classical choral music, spirituals, folk songs from around the world and Broadway favorites. Continuing growth in enrollment resulted in the formation of the Bay Area Women’s Chorus in the fall of 2009. The Women’s Chorus performs at all season concerts and had the honor of presenting a concert at the 56th Annual Convention of the Texas Choral Directors Association Convention in San Antonio in July, 2011. Recent guest artists for BAC concerts have included Dr. John Lienhard, founder of KUHF’s The Engines of Our Ingenuity, legendary composer/arranger Alice Parker, composer/song leader Nick Page and Houston gospel recording artist Barbara Johnson Tucker with pianist Phillip Hall. The Bay Area Chorus appears on the DVD Weston Noble: Perpetual Inspiration, distributed internationally by the Hal Leonard Corporation.
The mission of the Bay Area Chorus is to enrich the Houston and Galveston Bay area through the powerfully expressive eloquence of choral music.
- To provide educational outreach for audiences, chorus members and the local student community through the study and performance of varied styles of choral music, including both contemporary and classical.
- To provide the opportunity for singers in the community to participate in the preparation and performance of choral music of high quality.
- To demonstrate the continuity between student and adult performance opportunities by inviting area youth to participate in concerts.
- To provide scholarships for the study of choral music.
- To co-sponsor a summer music camp for children in the community.
One of the oldest non-profit Houston choral groups, the Bay Area Chorus has brought heartfelt performances to Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast since 1965. More than ninety singers comprise our all-volunteer chorus, each bringing unique interests, ethnic backgrounds and cultural experiences to the group. Some are engineers. Some are teachers. A few are in the medical profession. Occasionally, even an astronaut has graced this musical melting pot.
The Bay Area Chorus, also known as BAC, was originally formed under the direction of Estred Schwantes to sing the Easter portion of Handel’s Messiah. The chorus followed with a performance of the Christmas portion of the Messiah under the direction of Paul Ofield, who remained director until 1967. Paul Harrison took over as director in 1967 and served for one year. The BAC performed Mozart’s Requiem in the Apollo 1 Astronauts Memorial Concert at the NASA Johnson Space Center under his leadership.
The BAC incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1968. Dr. Wayne Bedford took over as director in 1968 and the chorus performed such notable pieces as Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, Vivaldi’s Gloria, and Brahm’s Liebeslieder Waltzes. In 1969, Ray Witt assumed the director position and led the chorus in a performance of the Brahms’ Requiem.
Under the past four BAC Directors the chorus has flourished and gained prominence: Milton Pullen’s leadership from 1970 to 1975, Dr. Ray Moore’s direction from 1975 to 1988, Rob Seible’s baton from 1988 to 1995, and Keith Dixon as Artistic Director from 1995 to 2014. Milton Pullen is now serving as BAC’s new Artistic Director.
In 1980, BAC established a scholarship fund to support local high school seniors interested in majoring in vocal or choral music at an accredited college or university. A number of scholarship recipients are now choral directors teaching in Texas schools; many others maintain vocal studios and teach private voice to high school students. One recipient was a Met Auditions winner who performed a leading role in La Boheme on Broadway as well as in other Opera performances across the U.S. Another scholarship winner performs regularly with the New York City Opera as well as regional opera companies, and many more are active soloists with church, community and professional ensembles.
BAC has performed at such notable venues in the U.S. and Europe as Carnegie Hall – New York; Meyerson Symphony Center- Dallas; Teague Auditorium – NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston; St. Patrick’s Cathedral – Dublin, Ireland;1894 Grand Opera House – Galveston, Texas; Notre Dame Cathedral – Paris; Stratford Opera House – Columbia, Texas; Viener Rathaus – Vienna, Austria; Texas Choral Directors Association – San Antonio; and Santa Iglesia Cathedral – Merida, Mexico. The BAC presented many free Christmas concerts to standing room only audiences at the NASA Johnson Space Center Teague Auditorium.