History

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Samuel A. WardOne evening in the Fall of 1888, a group of 36 men met in the home of Samuel A. Ward to enjoy the inspiration and recreation of group singing. Mr. Ward was the organist of Grace Church, Newark, and the composer of the music for "America, the Beautiful".

After a few months of weekly meetings, friends urged the group to give a public performance. They gave an informal public rehearsal on Tuesday, June 4, 1889. This started an unbroken chain of two public concerts a year for over one hundred and fifteen years.

Adding and losing members from time to time, the Club went through the advent of the radio, the Great Depression, two World Wars and two Asiatic wars, the sounds of the Gay 90's, Honky Tonk, the Jazz and Big Band eras, Be-bop, Rock 'n' Roll and other social changes.

Over the years, many glee clubs disbanded, the victims of other forms of entertainment. The Orpheus Club has been blessed with faithful members, dedicated leadership and inspiring conductors. The strong support of our audiences also helps keep the Orpheus Club alive and well. Thank you!

In our one-hundred-and-fifteenth season, the Orpheus Club broke with tradition to open its ranks to women who are able to sing in the 1st-tenor range.

In the one-hundred-and-twenty-three-year history of the Orpheus Club, only nine men and one woman have served in the post of conductor. Each has made his own contribution to the club's continued success and all have upheld the high standards established by our founder.

1888–1902 Samuel A. Ward
1903–1922 Arthur Mees
1923–1944 Frank Kasschau
1944–1956 Julius Zingg
1956–1961 Robert Riotte
1961–1964 William Jancovius
1965–1994 John Bunnell
1994–2005 William Rech
2005–2006 Randy Hertzog
2006–     Anne Marie Cerciello

The Orpheus name is taken from Greek mythology. Orpheus was a Thracian poet and musician whose lyre produced such sweet music that he could charm the beasts and make trees and rocks move. Each of the present-day members of the Orpheus aspires to do the same. Though we labor in a variety of fields during the day, we gather together one night a week to raise our voices in song. And there we discover anew what our founder had known—that no matter what the music, whether it be opera, show tunes or folk songs, there is nothing that can quite duplicate the enjoyment offered by group singing.

If you would like to sing with the Orpheus Club, call Don Singalewitch at (973) 822-0298.

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