The history of Kona Choral Society goes back to the fall of 1990, when Ken Staton, former Chair of the Performing Arts Department at UH Hilo, invited West Hawai‘i residents to form the all-volunteer Kona Community Chorus. Our first concert, December 21, 1990, at Central Kona Union Church, featured a performance of J.S. Bach’s Christmas Cantata followed by some traditional carols arranged by John Rutter, with piano accompaniment. Since then, the chorus has presented three or four performances, or more, each year for the enjoyment of residents and visitors alike.
As Christmas trees are decorated for the holidays, the chorus annually presents the amazing and popular Part I from Handel’s Messiah. Generally a second program is offered each December, featuring other Christmas and winter holiday season music. One or more spring concerts – featuring classical, folk, popular, international and Hawaiian music themes – have also been presented every year since 1991. Among the classical works performed have been Requiems by Mozart (in 2000), Brahms, Fauré, Duruflé and Rutter, and Masses by Mozart, Schubert, Haydn, Beethoven and Dvorák,. Other special programs have included the one-act Christmas opera “Amahl and the Night Visitors”, and the moving breast cancer benefit concert “Sing For the Cure”.
In 1994, orchestral accompaniment became an important ongoing part of our programs, and that year also saw the first performance by our Youth Chorus, which has been a vital and popular part of our musical family ever since.
Mr. Staton conducted the chorus until 2005, when the chorus’ name changed to Kona Music Society, and Mark Barville became Music Director, continuing the chorus’ growth and artistic development. Susan McCreary Duprey, an experienced choral director from O‘ahu, was named Artistic Director in January 2010. An exciting future lies ahead for the chorus under her expert and dynamic direction.
On July 1, 2014, in anticipation of the celebration of our 25th anniversary season, Kona Music Society was renamed Kona Choral Society. A highlight of the 2014-15 season was a banquet attended by many longtime members and supporters, most notably founding director Ken Staton. Today, Kona Choral Society is a registered non-profit organization whose mission is bringing to the community choral music from masterworks to local traditions. Our chorus numbers 90 men and women of all ages and backgrounds. The Youth Chorus is very important to us, and beginning in the Fall 2016 season, we will be revamping and looking at our mission regarding the Youth Chorus, and how we can make it better. Stay tuned for and exciting year ahead!