History of the Arlington Master Chorale


A Brief History.

The Arlington Master Chorale exists today because of the hard work and vision of all those who have come before and those who continue to serve and sing with AMC.

Founded as the Arlington Civic Chorus in 1973 under the direction of Mr. Michael Kemp, the chorale is perhaps the oldest ongoing fine arts organization in Arlington, Texas. Mr. Kemp, Minister of Music at First Presbyterian Church Arlington, served as ACC director until 1985. 

Dr. David Keith of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Fort Worth took the reins in the Fall of 1985. During his tenure, the chorale incorporated as The Arlington Choral Society of Texas, Inc., but his years are most fondly remembered for a trip to England where the chorus performed under renowned composer John Rutter and for a rousing, packed-house concert with the immortal Jester Hairston.

Ms. Jing Ling Tam of The University of Texas at Arlington followed as the next ACS director and, as with each director, brought a new perspective with her passion and energy. Indeed, her audition concert was W.A. Mozart's Requiem. Ms. Tam led the ACS to both Monterrey, Mexico, to perform Verdi's Requiem, and on a tour of Austria with significant concert stops in Graz and Salzburg.

The next ACS director, Mr. Henry (Hal) Gibbons of The University of North Texas paved the way for collaborative efforts with The Denton Bach Society and with UNT's Music Department in the professional recording and heralded performance of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana. It is of note that both Ms. Tam and our current director, Randy Jordan, studied choral conducting under Mr. Gibbons.

Mr. Jordan is one of AMC's greatest assets, not only for his skillful conducting, but because of his insistence that we grow as musicians and find new ways to impact the community. He is well-known in Arlington, having spent over three decades building and leading Martin High School's outstanding choral program and fine arts department. Mr. Jordan is an internationally respected conductor who pours his heart and soul into bringing the best out of all ensembles with which he works. On his watch, the current name, Arlington Master Chorale, was adopted to better reflect the near-professional level the chorale has achieved. With Mr. Jordan in the lead, AMC has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, Bass Hall in Fort Worth, all over Italy and for his TCDA and ACDA peers.

There is much more to come with Mr. Jordan at the helm.

An Extended History.

The Arlington Civic Chorus was founded in 1973 as a community choir by members of First Presbyterian Church Arlington and Mr. Michael Kemp, Minister of Music. Mr. Kemp and ACC performed the Giuseppe Verdi Requiem with the Fort Worth Symphony, and maestro John Giordano and with the Dallas Symphony under Louis Lane. When Mr. Kemp was called to a church out of state in the Spring of 1984, his father, John, served as director for the remainder of the season.

Dr. David Keith of the Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth was chosen as director in the fall of 1984. Dr. Keith led ACC to the Warwick University International Choral Festival in Warwick, England, performing both the Faure’ Requiem under Simon Halsey and John Rutter’s Requiem directed by the composer. ACC performed in the new Coventry Cathedral, participated in a master class with the famed King Singers, and enjoyed rehearsal with Sir David Wilcocks.

Of many achievements during Dr. Keith’s tenure, one particular ACC event stands out. Dr. Jester Hairston, internationally known choral director, clinician, composer/arranger of spirituals, and television and film actor, directed a memorable concert. The grandson of a slave, Jester regaled the audience with stories of family hardship met with determination and music which they sang as they worked the cotton fields.

Mr. Mark Scott, Minister of Music at St. Stephen Presbyterian Church in Ft. Worth, served as ACC director while Dr. Keith was on sabbatical from the Seminary. Mr. Scott invited Jonathan Rennert, renowned London organist, for a special program of British choral and organ music.

The name, The Arlington Choral Society of Texas, Inc., was adopted in 1986.

Ms. Jing Ling-Tam, Professor of Music at the University of Texas at Arlington, was hired as ACS Director following a masterful production of Mozart’s Requiem with the chorus in the Spring of 1989. With the energetic Ms. Tam, the chorus traveled to Monterrey, Mexico for the Alfonso Reyes Festival and there performed Verdi’s Requiem with two local choirs and the University of North Texas Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Anshel Brusilow. ACS presented a concert at the Longview Episcopal Church at the invitation of former ACS member, organist Wes Gomer. In 1992, in conjunction with the American Institute of Musical Studies annual summer festival, ACS joined singers from Europe and America at the Stephaniensaal in Graz, Austria for J. S Bach’s Magnificat. ACS also performed in the Salzdom Cathedral in Salzburg.

The next ACS Director was Henry (Hal) Gibbons, Associate Professor of Choral Studies at the University of North Texas in Denton. Mr. Gibbons, founder and director of the Denton Bach Society, developed several successful collaborative ACS/DBS concerts.

Mr. Gibbons and ACS traveled to Florence, Italy in November 2001. Housed in the Villa Medici, Artimino, ACS performed in the room originally built as a performance hall for Monteverdi’s first opera. The choir also presented a concert in the Duomo, the red-roofed cathedral that is the “logo” of Florence. In Assisi, birthplace of St. Francis, ACS performed in the Basilica de St. Francis, the first American choral group permitted to sing in the Upper Basilica. Here, ACS debuted a unique and beautiful setting of the St. Francis Prayer, Lord Make Me an Instrument.

Under Mr. Gibbons the ACS joined DBS, UNT student choirs, the Texas Boys Choir, and the UNT Orchestra at the Winspear Performing Arts Center on the UNT campus in the performance and professional recording of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana.

The Arlington Choral Society welcomed Randy Jordan as Director for the 2004 - 2005 season. Milestones with Mr. Jordan at the helm include adoption in May 2005 of the current name, The Arlington Master Chorale. The name was chosen to better represent the level of professionalism this humble community choir has achieved.

Mr. Jordan has developed and nurtured AMC’s ongoing relationships with area high school choirs and the AISD All-City Boys and Girls Choir, presenting these fine young singers in our regular concert series. Christmas 2006 included the world-premiere of Dr. Z. Randall Stroope’s Cantus Natalis, a brilliant piece for brass, adult, and children’s choirs.

AMC made its Carnegie Hall debut in March of 2007 with a stunning 25-minute stand-alone program and then joined choirs from around the country in Mozart’s Mass in C Minor directed by Dr. David Thye. In May 2007, the chorus again worked with Dr. Thye, the Fort Worth Symphony and Chorus for the production of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at Fort Worth’s Bass Hall.

Singers from UTA, Martin and Lamar High Schools, and the All-City Boys and Girls Choir joined AMC in April 2009 for magnificent performances of the Carmina Burana and Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms at Dallas’s Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center and Trinity UMC, Arlington.

AMC was the featured choir for the Texas Choral Directors Association annual convention in San Antonio in July 2009. Among those attending AMC’s concert were composer James Mulholland, Z. Randall Stroope, and Director Emeritus Weston Noble, all of whom offered heartfelt compliments.

AMC and Region V High School honor singers returned to the Meyerson and Trinity in April 2011 for thrilling performances of Brass, Wood and Steel, an outstanding program designed by Mr. Jordan which demonstrated AMC’s versatility, artistic range, power and prowess.

On tour though Italy in June 2011, AMC members worked with Dr. Stroope as part of the Festival Chorus in Rome, Italy, singing mass at St. Peter’s Basilica and performing in concert at St. Maria Sopra Minerva. AMC represented Arlington well, presenting a concert in Florence at the St. Stefan Concert Hall and singing mass at the venerable Basilica de San Marco in Venice.

The 2011 - 2012 concert season was one of AMC’s busiest ever. In addition to its regular concert schedule, AMC began the year with the UCC Chancel Choir in a 9/11 Memorial Concert at University Christian Church and ended in May 2012 with the Spring Fling: The Show Fundraiser. If that wasn’t enough, AMC performed at Dallas’s Majestic Theater in March as a featured choir for the Southwest Division of the American Choral Directors Association.

The 2012 – 2013 season was incredible in many respects, including our Spring concert presentation of the Faure Requiem and Ola Giejlo’s Sunrise Mass. AMC was deeply honored to sing as part of the massed choir and with the Fort Worth Symphony in the March 3 memorial service celebrating the life of the legendary Van Cliburn after his passing in February. AMC capped off the season in May working once again with the FWSO under the direction of Miguel Harth-Bedoya in a critically acclaimed production of Carmna Burana.

AMC does more than sing. Since the late 1980’s, the chorus has provided the Roger Bohn Memorial Scholarship to a deserving vocal major at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Mr. Bohn was a beloved member of the chorus’s bass section. AMC members also have generously supported many projects to benefit student singers as well as providing dues, fees, and costuming scholarship funds to singers within AMC’s own ranks.

It is by the commitment of our music staff, our member singers, and our gracious financial supporters that AMC is able to continually reach new heights. We are proud to not only sing, but serve in this wonderful community.