Mission Statement


The mission of the MUSIC CLUB CHORUS of NEW CASTLE is to prepare and perform George Frideric Handel's Messiah - the watershed oratorio that has excited and challenged humankind for generations -- and to offer to our listeners and performers the distinct opportunity to be a part of this truly monumental classic. We strive to continually develop the musical, artistic, educational, and spiritual aspects of this single work. We aim to include participants across age, racial, and physically challenged spectrums. (The chorus has included the blind and regularly offers an interpreter-in-sign language for the hearing impaired. All performance sites are accessible to the handicapped.) It is common to have both teenagers and octogenarians working on and performing the same voice part.

Did You Know?


In 1939, the MUSIC CLUB CHORUS of NEW CASTLE premiered its annual performance of Handel's Messiah at the First Presbyterian Church in New Castle, Pennsylvania. Originally comprised of members, associates, and friends of the New Castle Music Club, the chorus has recruited members from over forty area churches as well as students from several local high schools and colleges and citizens from across western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. This production has historically featured talented, regional musicians and music educators-- including organists, pianists, vocal soloists, trumpeters, flautists, percussionists, and choir members. The chorus has performed annually (excepting 1969 and 1970) under the leadership of three experienced conductors: Mrs. W. Walter (Ruth) Braham (1939-1968), Mrs. Kenneth (Betty) Gibson (1971-1990), and Harry M. Cunningham (1991-current). Performances have previously been hosted by over a dozen New Castle area churches, the Scottish Rite Cathedral of New Castle, the Third Baptist Church of Youngstown, and Westminster College. The Saturday, November 28, 1998 performance marked the first collaboration between the New Castle Music Club Chorus and Penn State/Shenango.

A Message From Our Director

2012 Greetings & Welcome, Dear Ones, In an attempt to write a universal message to those of you who open and read this page presently (October, 2012) and for you who peruse these sentences at some future time, I pray that my heart-prompted thoughts "be acceptable to our Lord, glorify His Name, and serve His Kingship and His kingdom of believers. We, affiliates of this chorus and annual Messiah presenters, welcome you and invite you to consider how God (through this timeless masterwork) speaks to us. From the opening tenor strains of God's comforting promise and through the prophesy and record of Christ's conception, birth, and baptism, we glory and rejoice in His coming and in His ministry. Through Christ's sacrificial healing of His "wayward and rebellious flock," we behold God's wonderful love, mercy, and grace toward us. Finally, we too can know that our Redeemer lives, that we can expect our own resurrection, and that we can (and should) gratefully celebrate the victory over sin and death. We look forward to the "Day" when we can join with "every creature on heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, and sing to Him Be praise and honor and glory and power forever and ever!" (Rev. 5:17) Blessings to you, and peace.
2015
Thank God for how He has provided in the past. Thank Him for what He will do. Ask Him what He wants you to do. Then trust Him. Remembering God's provision for yesterday gives hope and strength for today.
Indeed! For 75 years now, we (the MUSIC CLUB CHORUS of NEW CASTLE) have been so blessed with dedicated and extraordinarily skilled vocalists and instrumentalists, with devoted support staffs, with comfortable and spacious rehearsal rooms, with a treasury of magnificently appointed performance venues, with well attended, enthusiastic, and generous audiences. We've even been blessed with favorable weather. How can we not thank Him our gracious Heavenly Father for His "provision for yesterday"? When I read those words last Friday (from Our Daily Bread, Volume 60, Number 7,) I was reminded again to express much gratitude, and I was prompted to pray for a new hope and a renewed strength, for a faith filled trust as we boldly stride into this our 75th anniversary season of Handel's MESSIAH. Our Sunday, November 29th, 3 PM performance at the ST. VITUS ROMAN CATHOLIC PARISH (910 South Mercer St., New Castle) promises to be among our most memorable with our five solo artists, a trumpeter, flautist, timpanist, pianist, organist, antiphonal choruses, dance troupe, and narrators. (For those details, please visit our web site and click on our Performance Page page.) Our host pastor, Rev. Father Frank Almade, along with two other clergy from the Greater New Castle Christian Ministerial Fellowship will officiate and PA Representative Chris Sainato will also address our gathering. At this writing, during this recruitment period, we are still in need of singers who will commit to weekly (Monday 7 PM at the FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, 125 N. Jefferson St., New Castle) rehearsals and to our Nov. 29th performance. As the challenge above directs, "Ask Him what He wants you to do." Come; sing with us. If you're asked to financially support us, please generously donate. Above all, pray, and then "trust Him." Let us proceed with hope and strength, and may you be richly blessed too! H. Cunningham 10/3/15
March 21, 2008 Welcome, Dear Ones-- Sisters & Brothers in Christ, Fellow Artists, Choristers, NCMCC Friends & Families, and First-time Visitors,We pause, first, to acknowledge our Savior and Lord-our Messiah-- on this Good Friday, and we [like the unnamed jointly-crucified thief] understand that eternal life
August 18, 2008 Dear Friends and Members of our Messiah Community, Welcome back--if you are returning to our site; welcome--if this is your first visit. We hope you will return from time-to-time. Please visit us often. Richard Remaley, our web minister, hopes to add to the site as new contributions come his way, and he plans to find new ways to keep the web pages as fresh and engaging as possible--with your help, of course!Soon--on Monday evening, October 6th at 7 PM (at the FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, downtown New Castle,) we commence our 68th performance season. During our opening reception (from 8:15 until around 9 PM) we will have the opportunity to reacquaint ourselves and meet our new singers. Mr. Remaley plans to also present a website orientation and will offer some technological ideas for our journey into the 21st century.Won't you consider joining us this season? Our November 30th performance is scheduled for 3 PM at the EPWORTH UNITED METHODIST CHURCH in New Castle. No auditions are required, and scores can be purchased for $8.00 at our practices. Field and forest, vale and mountain, flowery meadow, flashing sea,Chanting bird and flowering fountain call us to rejoice in Thee. -van DykeWe look forward to rejoicing in Him as we prepare yet another memorable performance of The Messiah, and we hope you can be with us this Advent season. Enjoy the rest of your summer, be safe, be healthy, and please consider joining us in October. May God's blessings be with you and yours,
November 24, 2008 Dear Friends, Website Readers, Listeners, and Visitors,We, of the NEW CASTLE MUSIC CLUB Chorus, are honored to present our annual performance of Handel's Messiah this coming Sunday, November 30, at 3 PM at the EPWORTH UNITED METHODIST CHURCH in New Castle. Four soloists, an organist, a pianist, a trumpeter, a 70-member chorus, and a sign-language interpreter will present their 68th season's rendition of this grand masterwork.In his 1977 HANDEL'S MESSIAH: A Devotional Commentary, Joseph McCabe wrote, Messiah has been a wondrous blessing for more than two centuries. That will prove to be a good beginning as future generations hear the work with thanksgiving. When Biblical truth is joined to music that reaches the soul, then the human spirit soars.May it be so with [our] Messiah lovers [and hearers] for years to come. We hope you are inspired and blessed by our performance this season. We are grateful for your love and support. Have a festive, safe, healthy, and meaningful Thanksgiving.
January 10, 2009 Dear Readers, Friends, and Supporters,Our Messiah 2008 season is now behind us, and it is important to thank those many folks who helped to make our performance year possible and successful. Special thanks go to---Ed Petrus, our assistant conductor, Sharon Eisenhuth, treasurer, Dolores Despetorich, our secretary, to Margaret Sopkovich and her family for handling our PR responsibilities, to Carol Prentice and her social committee, to Richard Remaley, our web minister, to Susan Jackson, Debbie Johnson, Larry Daly, to Kathy Miller, organist, to Karen Toth, performance pianist, to Andy Erb, our trumpeter, to our wonderful soloists and choristers, to Reverend Rex Wasser and the host staff and congregation of the EPWORTH UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, to our listening audience, and to all of our financial supporters. A great deal goes into the planning for this annual event; we are presently securing a performance site for 2009. (If you or your church is interested in hosting a Messiah performance in the future, please contact us. You can easily access this chorus through this website.) The beautiful message of The Messiah so permeates our souls; it sustains us throughout the year. To all of you who attended this year's performance, we hope you were also touched by this perennial masterpiece, and we look forward to seeing you again in November.
April 23, 2009 Spring Greetings, Dear Readers! Our long, dark winter is behind us, spring bursts forth, and our Messiah is risen indeed.
March 14, 2010 Behold the Lamb of God, That taketh away the sin of the world. And the Lord hath laid on Him The iniquity of us all. During Lent we often emphasize penitential denials, we-at least temporarily-avoid tasteless distractions, and we forfeit tempting delights. We attempt to shoulder our guilt, forget our misdeeds, and bear our burdens-as if we can. We need to understand, however, that we can't begin to self-absolve; we, instead, need to fill our
October 24, 2010 Grace, Mercy, and Peace, Dear Readers (and Hearers,)What a privilege to greet you, this fall, with Paul's epistle greeting. How good it is to be reminded of God's ever-encompassing graciousness, His "tender" mercies, and His embracing peace. At this season as we prepare to perform our 70th Messiah, and as we look forward to the Advent of our "Wonderful [Lord,] Counselor, and Prince of Peace," we are reminded: "Grace is what our holy God gives that we, as sinful people, don't deserve. Mercy is what God withholds that we do deserve and Peace is what God brings to His people."(from Our Daily Bread, July 20, 2010)We, as annual Messiah presenters, believe this and long for the opportunity once again on November 28th (3 PM at the FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH, Kennedy Square, downtown New Castle) to herald His grace, mercy, and peace.Be encouraged, be enriched, and be glad!Harry Cunningham
March 9, 2011 As I listen to David Jeremiah's radio-cast, Turning Point, ( Davidjeremiah.org/radio ) on this Ash Wednesday morning, I am reminded of those folks near and dear who face uncertain and anxious days ahead: one is healing from a serious cancer surgery and consequent infection, some are battling discouraging diseases, one faces Aortic valve replacement surgery today, and other dear souls endure life-threatening (or at least life-debilitating) maladies. Stinging chastising "pain-perspectives" can be transformed into life-changing "Divine appointments," David submits. We are reminded that He was a man of sorrows acquainted with grief, and that we are His children. David shares, "The Vine-dresser [God] is never nearer the branches than when He is pruning them." In Hebrews 11:11 we read,For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant;later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. We, throughout this Lenten season, have the opportunity once again to demonstrate our trust in God's promise the provision of His grace toward us, His sons and daughters. Trust and learn!Harry Cunningham
October 19, 2011 Back to [Our] Future! We (the members and staff of the Music Club Chorus of New Castle) are back at it, our preparatory Messiah practices for our 71st performance season have resumed. (If you aren't already participating, you are still invited to sing with us on November 27th. Only six rehearsals remain; it's not too late, but our recruitment period ends on Halloween!) We're "back at it" we're listening and learning and singing and studying and praising and praying and soliciting and celebrating, and we're doing everything we can to secure our success as we seize the opportunity to serve our Savior, Jesus. Whatever is done in love for Christ Will one day have heaven's reward:Today let's do what we can for Him,Our loving Savior and Lord.-Hess I've just returned from attending the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts 2011 Awards Ceremony at the Manchester Craftsman's Guild. Our NCMC Chorus was among this year's 96 recipients who were granted over $222,000. In this message, we wish to express our grateful appreciation to Gov. Tom Corbett, to our PA Legislators especially Sen. Mary Jo White and Rep. Brian Ellis to Mitch Swain, CEO, Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, to Philip Horn, Executive Director, PA Council on the Arts, to David Seals, Director of Communications, Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, and to the PA Partners in the Arts panel. So we're "back at it," and we hope you will "come back" too to once again celebrate the prophesy, the promise, the suffering, and the thanksgiving for the death-defeating Redeeming Messiah this Advent. We look forward to the future with you, our dear supporting audience!In Christ,Harry Cunningham
February 1, 2012 Calendar-Chained Christmas?I love Christmas! To celebrate the Holiness of God's baby Son, to experience the cheer, good will, joy, and peace among fellow believers, to witness the compassionate kindness toward the less fortunate to evidence the Christmas spirit all around is truly inspiring. Our tree still graces our family room; its shimmering colors glow and warm our wintry evenings. Tomorrow is Ground Hog's Day, and I know I'll need to dismantle it soon now, but I will miss it. To my delight, this morning's (February 1st) Daily Bread devotional included the Luke 1 birth story and reflected on how Christmas often seems like it's "chained to the calendar." The meditation reminded me of our post-Christmas anthem, The Work of Christmas Begins. Its lyrics, written by Herb Frombach, deeply touched our parishioners on that January Sunday When the song of the angels is stilled, And the voices of the night are silent; When the shepherds return to their sheep, The work of Christmas begins. To feed the hungry, To find the lost, To free the pris'ner, To heal the broken, When all wars cease, When love is spoken, The work of Christmas begins to live. As we embark on the New Year and proceed into Lent and journey toward our Messiah's resurrection, may we glow with the perpetual warmth of the Christmas (Holy) Spirit.
12/26/2014 a Messiah 2014 "Wrap-Up" On this, the fourth Sunday afternoon (December 21) of Advent, 2014, we look back to our performance day (November 30) at the FIRST U. M. CHURCH as we embarked on this "Advent-ure" our 74th presentation a performance we'll long remember as one of our finest. More about that later In just four days at the culminating height of the season we will again celbrate the incomparable birth of our awesome Messiah, Jesus, the Christ, but we are encouraged to anticipate even more. Jesus' birth led to His ministry, His passion and suffering, His death and blood sacrifice in our behalf, His resurrection, and ultimately the resurrection of those who believe and abide in this "King of kings and Lord of lords." How privileged and blessed we are, season after season, to prepare and present The Messiah fully knowing how great an impact we can and do have on our listeners and on each other. That said, I take this opportunity to thank all of you Joni, Lisa, Seth, Zach, Kathy, Judy, Andy, Sharon, Michael, all of our choristers, our solicitors, supporters and staff, our hosts, our audience, and all of those others who enabled us. It was truly a glistening performance. May that "peace and good will" ever warm us as we proceed toward Christmas and into the new year.
June 20, 2015
An Anniversary An Antiphonal Event Inter-arts Collaboration An Invitation

Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in His mighty firmament!
Praise Him for His mighty acts of power; praise Him for His surpassing greatness.
Praise Him with the sounding trumpet; praise Him with the lute and harp.
Praise Him with tambourine and dancing; praise Him with the strings and flute,
Praise Him with loud cymbals; praise Him with clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord! -Psalm 150

2015 an historic season for us our 75th Anniversary a visionary event full of hope, joy, excitement, and happiness all parts of our praise to God.

November 29th 3 PM at the ST. VITUS ROMAN CATHOLIC PARISH, South Mercer St., New Castle an event of firsts: We plan to present Handel's masterful oratorio antiphonally with 80 or so choristers in the front chancel with another 40 or so in the elevated side loft. Our organist, pianist, trumpeter, flautist, and percussionist will accompany; five visiting soloists will join us; three narrators will deliver unsung portions; we will present the entire work. A visiting liturgical dance troupe from SLIPPERY ROCK UNIVERSITY will team with us to further enhance the scriptural texts and musical offerings. Our host pastor, the Reverend Father Frank D. Almade, along with two other sponsor representatives from the GREATER NEW CASTLE CHRISTIAN MINISTERIAL FELLOWSHIP will participate, and as an encore, we will present a world premiere setting of "Joy to the World," written by our composer-in-residence especially for this unique Advent celebration. And we are planning a post-performance reception! Truly it promises to be a memorable afternoon.

How can you help? Invite! We invite you to attend on November 29; we invite those of you who can to join our chorus; we invite you to share our "visionary" news with all of those with whom you come in contact in the weeks ahead, and we invite you to watch for further developments as they are announced on this web site, in the newspapers, and across the region. Thank you in advance, and let us "every[one] that has breath, praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!"
"Solomon gave orders to build a temple for the Name of the Lord" II Chronicles 2:1a
"The temple will be great, because our God is greater than all other gods." II Chronicles 2:5

Lenten Greetings to You, Our Dear Readers,May you continue to experience the richness of God and our Saviorand Messiah--Jesus, the Christ--as you proceed through your Lenten journey. Before we look forward to our 76th (November 27, 2016) performance, we take a few minutes to look back and to bask again in the many blessings ofour historic 75th (November 29, 2015 ST. VITUS PARISH) anniversary event.(Those details can still be found on our web site's Performance page.)
October 30, 2016 Dear Readers (& NEW CASTLE CLUB Chorus Patrons,) It seems everyone is involved in some sort of a countdown these days our national election occurs in just 9 days (& not a day too soon for most of us,) Halloween is tomorrow, next Sunday is time-change Sunday already, we are mid-way through fall, winter looms, it won't be long before we're in the our perennial holiday crunch, and according to our web site's countdown calendar http://www.ncmusicclubchorus.org 27 days & about 20 hours remain until our 2016 (76th) season Messiah performance on November 27 @ 3 PM at the CLEN-MOORE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, Clen-Moore Blvd., New Castle. Our time of basking in the after-glow of last year's historic ST.VITUS CATHOLIC PARISH's 75th anniversary performance comes to closure; we look forward to this year's presentation a season of some firsts. We welcome George Milosh, our new tenor from Pittsburgh, our violinist, Rachel Ramsey, of New Castle, and Robin Hasenpflugh, our cellist from Butler. (We've not included a violinist or a cellist in our 76-year history of New Castle-area Messiah performances.) This November's presentation will also include some of our sentimental favorite soloists soprano, Joni McFarland who returns for her 19th season, bass, Zach Luchetti (returning for his 9th time,) and trumpeter, Andy Erb (also returning for his 9th performance.) Rounding out our returning-artist roster is alto, Karen Campman Emmett, signer, Michael Boston, organist, Kathy Miller, & pianist Deb Johnson. Please read all about these wonderful folks on our Performance web page. We are excited to present in CLEN-MOORE's newly designed and elegantly appointed sanctuary worship stage. (We were last in CLEN-MOORE in 2007.) We wish to thank in advance all of those who have helped & will help to make this year's performance possible: the staff & congregation at CLEN-MOORE CHURCH, our solo & accompanying artists & staff, our chorus, our sup- port officers, our contributors, patrons, & sponsors, our listening audience, but most assuredly, thanks be to God who giveth us the victory thro' our [Messiah] the Lord Jesus Christ. In soli Deo Gloria
November 9, 2018 The performance on November 25, 2018 will have the following:
  • Rev. William R. LaVelle, Jr., WESLEY & EPWORTH U.M. CHURCHES, will officiate at the Offering.
  • Lt. Matthew Stacy, The SALVATION ARMY, will deliver the Benediction.
  • The Reverend Joseph R. McCaffrey, Administrator of LAWRENCE COUNTY GROUP of CATHOLIC CHURCHES will deliver the Invocation