Celebrate 35 years of harmony and friendship with Magnolia Chorale

Magnolia Chorale performs during a December 2023 concert.

Magnolia Chorale performs during a December 2023 concert.

On Saturday, May 4 and Sunday, May 5, Magnolia Chorale will celebrate 35 years of entertaining Seattle audiences with two special concerts themed: “Celebrating the Past. Building the Future.” 

Directed by Joseph To, the 35th anniversary repertoire combines many favorites from the group’s past years, with a few new favorites. Audiences will be treated to a new piece commissioned just for the occasion from local composer Theresa Redmond. With selections ranging from Mozart to the Beatles, from Ave Verum Corpus to Eatnemen Vuelie, the Chorale’s range of musical styles will be on full display. 

To, who is just finishing his second year as the Chorale’s music director is looking forward to directing a mixture of old and new. 

“I am excited for our 35th anniversary celebration and connecting with the community that has supported us all these years,” To said. “I’m especially excited to meet the Chorale’s former singers, directors, accompanists, and friends, old and new.”

Saturday Gala and Sunday Matinee concerts

As always there will be Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon concerts. However, this year the Saturday evening concert will be a “Gala” event presented at Pilgrim Hall, Magnolia United Church of Christ, 3555 W. McGraw St. The event starts at 6:30 p.m., giving the audience a chance to enjoy catered appetizers, desserts, and beverages as they mingle with current and past Chorale members and staff before taking a seat. Due to limited capacity, tickets for the Saturday concert must be purchased online in advance at magnoliachorale.org. 

On Sunday, May 5 at 2 p.m., the Chorale will perform at the Episcopal Church of the Ascension, 2330 Viewmont Way W. Church of the Ascension was the Chorale’s first rehearsal venue and was the site of many of its concerts over the years. The Sunday concert will follow a more traditional format with desserts and refreshments at intermission, along with a chance to catch up with Magnolia Chorale members and staff past and present. Sunday tickets are available online and at the door. 

Magnolia Chorale is an independent organization and is not affiliated with any of the venues where it rehearses or performs, but is most grateful for their hospitality. 


Magnolia Chorale Music Director Joseph To

 35 years in the making

Magnolia Chorale was started by a group of singers who first met in rehearsals for Skillings and Johnson’s A Celebration of Hope performed in 1979, and again in 1989 at Church of the Ascension. Singers from other churches in Magnolia, Queen Anne, and Ballard joined with Ascension’s choir and developed friendships that eventually led to creating a community choir — Magnolia Chorale.

Planning began in summer 1989, among founding members Don Austin (Magnolia Chorale’s first music director), Carolyn Scheuer, and Pat Gaffney. Gaffney is still singing with the group in the 35th Anniversary concerts. 

Rehearsals started right after Labor Day at Church of the Ascension. After several weeks of rehearsal, the Chorale presented its inaugural season of concerts directed by Don Austin and accompanied by pianist Diane Beckman, the first weekend of December 1989. 

For more details about Magnolia Chorale 35th Anniversary concerts and how to buy tickets go to magnoliachorale.org.