Yankee Male Chorus yankeemalechorus.org Yankee Male Chorus yankeemalechorus.org
Yankee Male Chorus

Do You Love
 to Sing?
Join Us!

new members are welcome

You're Invited!
The public is cordially invited to attend our August performances in New Hampshire and Vermont.
Admission is free, but at some concerts an offering is requested.
All venues are wheel-chair accessible.
General Manager  
Arnold Jones, Jr.
Dave Caneen
Peter Harrison
Joseph O'Leary
John Souza
William Yates
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Hendrick Hudson Male Chorus
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Yankee Male Chorus
Gives Final Concerts in 2018
The Yankee Male Chorus ended its 65-year run with four concerts in Vermont/New Hampshire in August 2018.

New Male Group to Perform in
Summer of 2019

The Northeast Men's Summer Chorus (NMSC) will perform three concerts this summer in southern  VT/NH (August 15-17).

Former YMC participants are welcome. Prospective singers should contact Marty Edelman at 917-456-6558 or send email to: singingvacation@gmail.com. More at www.singingvacation.org.

YMC History
The Yankee Male Chorus membership consisted of approximately 90 singers at its height. Singers -- mostly from glee clubs in northeastern and mid-Atlantic states -- convened in New England each August for four days, presenting four concerts in scenic small towns of southern Vermont and New Hampshire.

In 2018, the chorus celebrated its 65th anniversary. To mark the occasion of YMC's 60th year, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin issued a proclamation declaring August 7-10, 2013, Yankee Male Chorus Week.

It all started in 1953, when Rolland E. Heermance, YMC's founding conductor, and a group of men thought that it would be interesting and fun to sing together at a town celebration in Massachusetts. They were asked to return the following year. Rolland, a true gentleman, had attended Ithaca College, studying voice, and later settled in Catskill, New York, where he founded the Catskill Glee Club. The group returned to Massachusetts the next year, and the Yankee Male Chorus was off and running. 

All sorts of logistics problems became an annual part of the event, including meals, lodging, concert locales, soloists, staging, air conditioning or lack of it, having enough copies of music, to name a few. Grafton, Vermont, population 432, was having its 200th anniversary celebration in 1953. During the evening of that celebration, YMC began what was to become a series of 50 consecutive annual concerts (through 2003) in that beautiful town.

The members of the first Yankee Male Chorus came mainly from the Catskill Glee Club, the Middletown Glee Club, and the Manufacturers Chorus. Singers came from all over New England, New York, and mid-Atlantic states. It was a diverse group of men -- country folk, city folk, farmers, doctors, painters, businessmen, factory hands, truck and bus drivers, musicians, and retirees.  What they had in common was the love for making music.

In 1960, the short life of the Yankee Male Chorus almost came to an end when, tragically, Rolland Heermance was driving people home from a church rehearsal and a car veered into his. He was killed instantly. Since plans had already been started for that year’s tour, Al Sparks stepped in to manage the tour and Clifford Ormsby, Ph.D., became the conductor.

Clifford, a native Vermonter, was a composer, arranger, and conductor and was a director of music in Great Neck, Long Island.  He attended Ithaca College, Hofstra College, New York University, and Columbia University. Having a summer home in Grafton, he had sung with and been a guest conductor with the YMC and was already familiar with many of the men and fit in perfectly.

In 1976, the chorus was invited to sing at Tanglewood (in Lenox, Massachusetts), to celebrate the Bicentennial and had a most successful performance. Cliff’s untimely death early in 1977 was cause for great concern for the chorus, but Lawrence Coulter came to the rescue. Larry’s background in music was extensive, including study at Carnegie University, Columbia University, and the Eastman School of Music. Larry was an aviator in World War II, flying 53 combat missions; was a Japanese POW for three years; and was awarded seven decorations.  He held the rank of Lt. Commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve. He conducted the chorus through 1993, when he retired.

Since Larry Coulter’s retirement, three gifted men have shared the conductor’s podium -- Bruce J. Wagner, J. Brian Steeves (who died in 2008), and the late Nelson G. Burhans. Nels was active for decades as a soloist, manager, and conductor. He was a man of great commitment and the driving force of the YMC for decades. He died in March 2015 and is sorely missed.

In 2008, David Lance, former conductor of the Hendrick Hudson Male Chorus, was asked to conduct at YMC concerts. In 2012, with the retirement of Nelson Burhans as a regular conductor, Michael Wright of the Albany Mendelssohn Club joined YMC as a conductor.

Over the years many other talented people have lent their expertise to the chorus, including accompanists Donald Brown, Barbara Sparks, and Patricia Osborn; soloists Walt McClure and John McCullough; conductor Gene Wisoff; composer Stephanie Gelfan, a Grafton native; poet laureate of Vermont William Mundell; librarians C. Fred Seeger, William Yates, and William Murray; managers Nelson Burhans and Arnold Jones,Jr.; and staff assistants Pete Harrison and John Souza. 

A typical YMC tour includes a three-hour rehearsal on a Wednesday afternoon, followed by four concerts on Wednesday through Saturday nights. Our home base has always (with few exceptions) been the White Church in Grafton, VT. The concert at this charming old church is the highpoint for most of the men. The acoustics there are hard to beat, and our unbroken record of never missing a performance there is one of our proudest traditions. However, all of the towns that we have sung in are important to us and to the people who hear us. Summer visitors have been known to arrange their vacations so that they can be sure to see and hear the chorus.

-- Compiled by Gloria and Sal Antignani, Grace McCullough, Nelson G. Burhans, and Arnold Jones, Jr.

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