For fifty years, we have desired to increase our knowledge and understanding of the choral idiom. We strive to capture and share “the gift of song” with the listening community, in performances of sacred and secular choral literature at a variety of venues.
In 1960, Ruth A. Knoll founded the Hartford Community Chorus at the urging of several high school alumni who desired a place where they could continue their love of singing. The City of Hartford Recreation Department agreed to provide financial support and the group began weekly rehearsals at Hartford High School.
Over the years, the Chorus has sung a varied concert repertoire in many locations. Light classics, contemporary pop tunes, sacred and spiritual favorites, Broadway show tunes, folk songs, Christmas sing-alongs, and major works in anniversary years - have been performed at Holy Hill, St. John’s and other Milwaukee cathedrals, high school gyms and theaters, Woodlawn and Sawyer Parks, the Wisconsin Choral Directors Association (WCDA) conventions, and the Ruth A. Knoll Theater at the Schauer Center.
In 2003, the Chorus became a “resident tenant” of the Schauer Center, which provides additional support of rehearsal and storage space.
In 50 years, over 700 different people have sung at least once with the Chorus, performing approximately 1000 different selections. 155 singers have participated for between 5 and 37 years, and 4 charter members are still active. There have been 23 different accompanists, with the present accompanist, Audrey Rhinehart, having served the longest at 17 years.
Ruth A. Knoll, a native of Oconomowoc, WI, spent her entire 40-year teaching career at Hartford Union High School. From 1958 to 1998, she directed all choral activities there, conducting choirs, giving voice lessons, participating extensively in solo-ensemble contests, and overseeing the music aspects of the musical theater productions.
She holds BA and MS degrees in Music Education from Kalamazoo College (MI) and the UW-Madison, respectively.
Miss Knoll has been the Hartford Community Chorus’s one and only conductor for 50 years – as well as Music Director at First United Methodist Church in Hartford for the same length of time. She has been a long-time active member of the WCDA, serving as Secretary-Treasurer, regional conventions Registration Co-Chair, and Repertoire and Standards Representative. Her auditioned High School Concert Choir was chosen to perform with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra on two occasions.
Honors that Ruth has received include: Hartford Teacher of the Year, Herb Kohl Fellowship, Paul Harris Fellowship (Hartford Rotary), and the WDCA Morris D. Hayes Award. The Ruth A. Knoll Theater at the Schauer Center for the Arts in Hartford is named in her honor. The Chorus and Hartford Community recently raised funds to endow “The Ruth A. Knoll Music Scholarship”. December 12, 2010 was declared Ruth A. Knoll Day in Hartford and she was presented with a key to the city.