Dubuque Chorale

Dubuque Chorale Handbook

Welcome to Dubuque Chorale! We are pleased and thrilled that you have decided to join us in continuing our rich musical tradition of bringing vibrant choral music to the Dubuque area community.

Our goal is to put forth our collective best effort in the service of great music...and to share the fruits of that labor with the audience. We hope to make this important task enjoyable, educational and rewarding. Our success in this endeavor is dependent upon the committed effort of each individual singer to thorough musical preparation and dedicated attendance. Please take a few moments to become familiar with this handbook and know that the members of the Chorale Board of Directors and its director, Bob Demaree, welcome your questions, comments, suggestions and concerns. It is our sincere hope that your experience of making music as a member of Dubuque Chorale will become a source of great joy and fulfillment.


The Dubuque Chorale is a community choral organization composed of singers from Dubuque and outlying communities. Dennis Williams founded the group in 1971. The chorale’s initial purpose was to study and perform the great choral masterworks with orchestra; the first season featured Handel’s Messiah and Haydn’s Creation. Since then, the group has performed over 60 major choral works, and its mission has evolved to include all great choral music. The Chorale’s 42 years of performances, with over 1,100 singer alumni reaching more than 40,000 audience members, attests to the accomplishment of this mission.

In 1986 the Chorale began collaborating with the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra with the performance of that year’s Holiday Concerts. The relationship continues today, with the Chorale typically joining the DSO for Holiday Pops and another featured work during the season as part of the symphony’s subscription series. The Chorale also presents its own concerts in the fall and spring, an outdoor performance in the summer, and additional engagements as requested.

In 1994 the Dubuque Chorale embarked on its first international tour to England and Wales. Since then, members of the organization have visited and performed in Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Italy (singing for a mass at the Vatican), Switzerland, New Zealand, and Australia (singing with renowned conductor Eric Whitacre at the Sydney Opera House). In June 2011 they toured and performed in New York City along with community and university singers from the Wisconsin communities of Platteville, Mt. Horeb, and Fond du Lac. In the summer of 2014, they visited the British Isles.

In 2009, Dr. Bob Demaree accepted the position of artistic director and conductor of the Dubuque Chorale, replacing Fran Vogt (2006-2009). Under his leadership, the Chorale has grown to over 100 voices from a diverse array of occupations, ages, and socio-economic status. Repertoire and artistic programming has also expanded to include new collaborations and community educational opportunities.

In the fall of 2012, the Dubuque Chorale added a chamber choir, Dubuque Chorale: Cadenza. This group of 16-24 SATB singers is designed to give the Chorale greater flexibility in booking performance engagements, resulting in increased exposure for the Chorale as a community arts leader and advocate.


Membership in Dubuque Chorale is open to high school, college and adult singers from the Tri-State area and beyond...some of our singers travel weekly from as far as an hour away! No auditions are necessary to join Chorale.

Membership Responsibilities

  1. Arrive 10 minutes prior to rehearsal/call time so that rehearsals can begin promptly.
  2. Bring a pencil to all rehearsals to mark your music.
  3. Listen attentively during rehearsals/announcements and refrain from unnecessary talking.
  4. Turn off your cell phone or put it on vibrate during all rehearsals.
  5. Refrain from the use of heavy perfumes that might affect other singers’ allergies.
  6. Encourage community attendance at concerts by helping with publicity and selling of tickets.
  7. Be willing to serve on a committee.
  8. Consider serving on the board.


The Dubuque Chorale asks each member to pay dues for the season. Dues are an important part of the Chorale budget and enable the organization to continue offering excellent vocal music to the community. However, dues should never be a reason not to join the Chorale, so financial assistance is available to anyone for whom the dues are an obstacle to participation.

  1. Dues for the season are determined by the board at the beginning of the fall season. For the 2017/18 season, dues are $80, students $25. Cadenza dues are an additional $25.
  2. All singers are expected to pay annual dues, regardless of what part of the season they sing.
  3. Dues are requested to be paid when the singer/commitment form is submitted to the section coordinator. Singers should give their dues directly to the board treasurer at rehearsal. The board treasurer is responsible for tracking the payment of all dues.
  4. Both commitment form and dues are to be submitted to the appropriate section coordinator and treasurer no later than the second rehearsal.
  5. The names of those singers who have not submitted their commitment form/dues by the end of the third rehearsal will be given to the membership co-chair. Membership co-chair will then write a friendly reminder via email to the singer requesting that the matter be taken care of promptly and inviting them to complete a financial assistance form if necessary. Complete confidentiality is assured.
  6. A financial assistance application is available from the treasurer. If a financial form is requested, the singer is requested to complete this within two weeks. The completed form should be submitted to the treasurer.
  7. After the treasurer receives the completed form, it is forwarded to the executive board and director for their consideration.
  8. If no financial application form is completed within this two week time frame and no dues are paid, the matter is referred to the Director and President of the board. A decision as to how to proceed is ultimately decided by the Director and President.


Each singer will be provided a copy of musical selections he/she is expected to sing with Chorale. Occasionally, Chorale members may need to buy their individual copy. All music is marked with a number. It is the singer’s responsibility to return all music owned/borrowed by Chorale following each concert. Each member must furnish and use a black folder to hold his/her music.


Rehearsals are generally held on Thursday evenings from 7:30 to 9:30 pm in the sanctuary at Grand View United Methodist Church on the northwest side of Dubuque. Music and a pencil must be brought to every rehearsal. All singers are requested to complete a commitment form at the beginning of the season – and to honor those commitments to the best of their ability.

Cadenza rehearses Thursdays from 6:15 to 7:15 pm at the same location, except on Thursdays when the Board of Directors meets.


  1. Attendance at all rehearsals and concerts is expected.
  2. If a singer is unable to attend a rehearsal or performance (and this is not noted on the commitment form), he/she is expected to inform their Section Coordinator ASAP.
  3. In the event of an unexcused absence, the Section Coordinator will contact the member and let them know they were missed.
  4. If a member has a chronic problem with attendance, the Section Coordinator will bring it to the Director’s attention. The Director and/or Board will decide what to do from there.

Rehearsal Cancellations Due to Weather

Rehearsal cancellations due to weather will be posted on the Dubuque Chorale website, www.dubuquechorale.org, as well as Kat-FM, KDTH, 101.1 the River, and KGRR radio stations. All singers are encouraged to use their own judgment regarding rehearsal attendance.

In the event of inclement weather, the board will make every effort to post the cancelation of rehearsal by 4:00 pm on the day of rehearsal.


  1. For multiple performances of a concert, members who know they will miss a performance may not sing the concert except at the discretion of the Director.
  2. Members must inform their Section Coordinator as soon as they know they will miss a performance (when this is not noted on the commitment form).
  3. Chronic problems with missed performances will be brought to the Director’s attention by the Section Coordinator. The Director and/or Board will decide what to do from there.

Concert Attire

WOMEN: Long-sleeved, black blouses with long black skirts or dress slacks, or long-sleeved, long black dresses. Black shoes (no open-toed shoes, no flip-flops) and black stockings.

MEN: Black tuxedo or solid black suit, white shirt, black bowtie, black shoes/socks.

Perfume, cologne, aftershave and scented hairsprays should not be worn.

Section Coordinators

Section Coordinators are responsible for the following:

  1. Taking attendance at each rehearsal and reporting this information to the Director.
  2. Personally welcoming new members to their section.
  3. Integrating new members into their section.

Board of Directors

Dubuque Chorale Board consists of the Artistic Director (ex-officio), President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, four additional Chorale singers, and three members from the community. All members serve three-year terms, renewable after the first term. Board members are elected by the Chorale membership at the annual meeting held in the spring. The Board meets once a month throughout the year, generally on the third Tuesday of the month at 6:00 pm. Any Chorale member is welcome to attend Board meetings.

Code of Conduct

The Dubuque Chorale expects that all members, guests, and associates will be treated with dignity and respect. The purpose of this policy is to communicate to all members that the Dubuque Chorale and Children’s Choir will not tolerate disrespectful or bullying behavior. The Chorale defines this as inappropriate behavior, either direct or indirect, whether verbal, physical, or otherwise, conducted by one or more persons against another or others. Please note that you are not required to confront the person or persons involved, however, if you experience such behavior you must make a reasonable effort to make it known as soon as, or soon after you experience or discover it. Please report it to a Board member or staff so that an investigation may begin. Persons responsible for persistent inappropriate behavior may be asked to leave the Chorale or the Children’s Choir.

Grants and Donations

The Fundraising Committee continually seeks opportunities for financial assistance and welcomes your suggestions. If you know of a company, foundation or individual willing to give tax-deductible donations and/or grants to Chorale, please see the Chorale President or Fundraising Committee chairperson.

There are three ways to contribute to Dubuque Chorale:

An annual appeal is conducted at the beginning of the Fall season. This appeal assists Chorale in general budget expenditures and allows us to provide free admission to our Chorale sponsored concerts. Each Chorale member is also invited to consider making a financial gift beyond annual dues.

Each year, we invite businesses of the Tri-State area to buy an ad to be included in concert programs. Chorale members are also invited to assist in ad sales.

Dubuque Chorale has established an endowment fund. This fund is part of the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque and helps to guarantee funding for operating expenses and developmental programs in future years. To learn more, call Community Foundation for Greater Dubuque (563-588-2700) or go online to www.dbqfoundation.org to learn how to help us secure the future of Chorale. Gifts may be eligible for a 25% Endow Iowa Income Tax Credit.


Cadenza is an auditioned ensemble. Auditions are typically held in the fall. In order to sing in Cadenza, singers must fully participate in major Chorale fall and spring concerts. Any deviation from this will remain the purview of the Board.

Cadenza rehearsals are held typically on Thursday evenings, from 6:15 – 7:15 pm with the exception of those Thursdays when a board meeting is scheduled. Cadenza singers are expected to notify the Director of any absences ASAP.


All mass emails to Chorale members may be generated only by the Director, members of the Board or designated committee chairs.

If Chorale members are performing in other musical ensembles within the Tri-State area and wish to convey information regarding future performances, they are welcome to email the Chorale President, who may include this information in his/her regular emails to the Chorale.

Only performances sanctioned by the Director and/or the Board may represent the Dubuque Chorale or Cadenza.


The Dubuque Chorale Handbook provides a history of the organization, and covers topics like dues, attendance, and concert attire.