For almost 30 years, Gayle Marcus has been aware of the talent the Prairie Arts Chorale has to offer the region.
Now she has the chance to lead a group she's admired for decades.
Marcus is the new Prairie Arts Chorale director, taking over for Patricia Kazarow. She started her duties earlier this summer.
She has a master's degree in music with specialization in choral conducting. Marcus is an adjunct professor of music at Ridgewater College in Hutchinson. She has a bachelor of arts degree in secondary vocal music education and a teaching license in K-12 music.
The Chorale is working on its fall season "Celestial Songs and Carols for Choir."
Marcus said music has always been a part of her life, even when she was a young girl.
"My mother was an amazing musical and identified early on that I exhibited some natural talent," Marcus said. "I remember claiming that I wanted to be a music teacher as early as kindergarten. Music inspires me emotionally, connects me socially and challenges my ability to create beyond the printed page."
After Marcus graduated from college in Michigan during the early 1980s and received her first teaching position in Minnesota, she learned about the Prairie Arts Chorale.
"The caliber of musicians and the level of the repertoire performed surpassed my expectations of what Greater Minnesota had to offer," she said. "I have followed their progress since that time and their reputation of excellence remains."
PAC members and board were not too specific of what they were looking for in a director, Marcus said, as they needed a replacement because of Kazarow's retirement. PAC member Sue Selden said several applied for the position.
"I was invited to interview with the board of directors and then given the opportunity to rehearse with the group for about half an hour," Marcus said. "I was asked to lead a choral warm-up and conduct two pieces of music; one the hour was familiar and the other a piece of my choosing. The audition rehearsal proved to be a good fit, for which I am grateful."
Selden said Marcus fit the Chorale's needs.
"Ms. Marcus places strong emphasis on phrasing and dynamics, as well as good choral blending of voices, building on these aspects of PAC goals," Selden said.
The Chorale is looking for new members, and for her inaugural year, Marcus said she'll follow a format similar to years past.
"The fall season will be more classically oriented and the spring season will feature lighter repertoire," Marcus said. "We are looking to fill a couple of vacancies within the Chorale and should enough capable new voices audition, we may look at increasing each section by one or two more singers."
Marcus said the time she's spent with the Chorale so far has been wonderful.
"I am impressed by the talent represented, the commitment level of these fine volunteer singers and their families and am looking forward to the challenge of maintaining and invigorating the reputation and the output of this fine group of singers," Marcus said. "I'm also looking forward to adding a few Christmas and holiday tunes to our fall concert. The repertoire is rich for this season and we look forward to sharing it with the community, even if it is pre-December."