The Ames Choral Society
The Ames Choral Society encourages participation in performing fine choral music. Since 1964, men and women from Ames and the surrounding areas have been creating a community of spirit and joy singing diverse, high-quality secular and sacred choral literature, including holiday music, folk song arrangements, spirituals, musical theater selections, and larger works.
The Ames Choral Society presents at least two formal concerts each year, plus a cabaret show, a summer concert, and a sing-along Messiah. We prepare a major work, usually with orchestra, every other year. In recent years, we have performed P. D. Q. Bach’s Oedipus Tex, Carl Nielsen’s Hymnus Amoris, Randall Thompson’s Frostiana, Schubert’s Mass in G, selections from Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem, and shorter works by various composers.
Our annual cabaret show gives singers a chance to use their singing and acting skills as soloists and in small and large groups in a less formal setting. What began as programs with a series of solos (mainly popular and musical theater) linked by introductions and framed by full chorus numbers, has evolved into mini-musicals using a storyline (And the Winner Is …, Greeced Lightning, The Hills are Alive, and Through the Hobbit Hole) with unrelated, and sometimes unexpected, music selections which move the action along. The sing-along Messiah helps raise money for local charities and brings together members of the choral society, the community, and interested instrumentalists.
The summer chorus typically performs patriotic music with the Ames Municipal Band at Ames’ Bandshell Park, as well as present a concert of mostly American music.
The Ames Choral Society participates in several benefit concerts and community sing-alongs throughout the year, including the Good Neighbor Benefit Concert, the Nevada Kiwanis Benefit Concert, Downtown Ames caroling, the Messiah sing-along, and the Ames Municipal Band July 4th concert. These events help raise money for local charities and bring together members of the choral society, the community, and interested instrumentalists.
Steven Hoifeldt holds music degrees from Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas and the University of Iowa. He has directed the Ames Choral Society since 1982 and directs Good Company: A Women’s Choral Ensemble and the St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church choir. He is an adjunct instructor at the Boone Campus of Des Moines Area Community College where he teaches Music Appreciation, World Music, and directs the concert choir. He also gives private voice lessons at his Ames Studio.
Barbara Evenson has been the accompanist for the Ames Choral Society since 1995. Other choral groups she accompanies include Good Company: A Women’s Choral Ensemble, the Ames Children’s Choirs, and the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship choir. Over the years, Barbara has also accompanied community theatre groups in Ames, Dubuque, and Cedar Rapids. When she’s not rehearsing or performing with a choir, Barbara gives private harp and piano lessons, and performs as a harper in various community venues and festivals across the Midwest.
The Ames Choral Society began with a discussion group which met at the Memorial Union in the fall of 1964 to plan how to fulfill a need felt by many members of the community for more participation in vocal music. By spring, 1965, primarily by personal contact and with minimal publicity, a singing organization of 80 members had developed under the direction of David Waggonner, choirmaster at Northminster Presbyterian Church. The group rehearsed each Monday evening and presented its first concert of Christmas music at Northminster Church on December 13, 1965.
The first major work performed was Ein Deutsches Requiem by Brahms, on May 15, 1966, at the Collegiate Methodist Church. This was directed by James Stroud of the Iowa State University Music faculty, with Betty Stroud and Richard Koupal as soloists. A full orchestra, composed of townspeople and students, with a professional harpist and bassoonist from Des Moines, was used. A recording company made fifty records of the performance, and these were sold to members and friends.
During the ensuing 17 years, the Ames Choral Society performed under eleven directors: David Waggoner, James Stroud, Richard Koupal, Curtis Renz (3.5 years), Rollie Blondeau, Jackie Pruett, Max Exner, Laurence Burkhalter, Mahlon Smith, Richard Snyder, and James Loos (5 years).
Steven Hoifeldt took over the helm as director in the fall of 1982, and led the preparation and performance of a concert entitled Christmas: A Joyous Mystery, which included the “Christmas Cantata” by Daniel Pinkam and ended with the whimsical “Concert of Choral Christmas Carols” by PDQ Bach. In the years since, Steve Hoifeldt has earned the respect and affection of his singers with innovative programming and insistence on choral excellence, with performances of major works by JS Bach, GF Handel, WA Mozart, G Faure, F Haydn, John Rutter, Carl Nielsen, Randall Thompson, Ralph Vaughn Williams, Benjamin Britten, and others. He consistently pleases his audiences with varied and creative programming.
Excerpted from the ACS archives and the writings of Richard Wood, ACS Historian