The Wheatland Chorale
Since its founding in 1987 by Robert J. Upton, the Wheatland Chorale has earned a reputation as one of Pennsylvania’s premier choral ensembles. The singers, all volunteers, are selected through audition, and travel from throughout Central and Southeastern Pennsylvania for weekly rehearsals in Lancaster. The Chorale is named for its birthplace in the Wheatland Hills area of Lancaster. The popularity of the Wheatland Chorale has grown steadily. The regular season includes a concert subscription series, performed in Wyomissing, Lancaster and at Elizabethtown College in December and in the spring, as well as special engagements throughout the year.
In June 2012 Eric Riley was appointed as the new Artistic Director, succeeding founder and director Upton, who retired after 25 years. Mr. Riley is the Director of Music & Organist at the renowned Market Square Presbyterian Church in downtown Harrisburg where he has served since 2007. He is also the Conductor of the Central Pennsylvania Oratorio Singers, which has been based at Market Square Presbyterian since 2010.
The Chorale has been recognized by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts for artistic excellence with annual grants to support the choir’s mission – “to promote and perpetuate choral music through excellence in performance.” The ensemble typically numbers 40 singers and has performed throughout Central and Eastern Pennsylvania, as well as at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, the National Cathedral and the White House in Washington, D.C. Internationally the chorale has performed during tours of Austria, Germany, and England. The choir has also performed with the “Celebrate Bach!” orchestra of the Mt. Gretna Music Festival, the Harrisburg Symphony, and the Allegro Chamber Orchestra. The Wheatland Chorale has been heard on WITF-FM public radio and was featured on the premiere season of “The First Art”, a public radio program featuring American choral groups.
The chorale’s repertoire extends from medieval plainchant through 21st Century works by British, European and American composers including its own composer/arranger, Douglas Weaver. Most recently described by performing arts critic Susan Pena of the Reading Eagle as possessing “meticulous dynamics and phrasing” and a sound of “unearthly beauty” the Wheatland Chorale continually strives to sustain, promote and enhance the unique beauty of the choral art for members of every audience.