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South Suburban Chorale is one sound operation

The South Suburban Chorale has grown 130 members.  |  Supplied photo

The South Suburban Chorale has grown to 130 members. | Supplied photo

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Updated: November 30, 2012 6:04AM



The South Suburban Chorale created musical memories in separate recent performances of its annual fall concert at All Nations Community Church and St. Joseph Catholic Church, both in Homewood.

“Our audiences have gotten large enough that we can’t really do a single concert any longer,” chorale director Albert Jackson said. “We had a wonderful audience. I estimate there were 500 to 600 people at St. Joseph’s alone. The church was quite full.”

This year’s fall concert, “From Moscow to Montgomery,” included a mix of Russian and European musical selections and American spirituals. The chorale annually stages three concerts: in the spring, fall, and during the Christmas season.

The audience growth mirrors that of the chorale. The current membership of 130 singers has increased from “a couple of dozen people” when Jackson became director in August 1998, he said.

As music director of Flossmoor Community Church at the time, Jackson said he “recruited heavily from the choir,” bringing the SSC membership to about three dozen singers for his first fall concert.

“It’s been steadily building ever since,” he said.

Jean Scott, a 35-year resident of Homewood, said Jackson is a factor in the group’s growth.

Scott said she started singing with the chorale “way back in the ’70s” when the group was known as the Thornton Evening Chorale.

The choir was under the direction of Al Kindig, the director after whom the Performing Arts Center at South Suburban College is named.

“We were in a Quonset hut at the time because the college had not been built,” Scott said. “Al Kindig was a wonderful director.”

Scott said she was with the chorale and other singing groups in the area off and on over the years while she and her husband, Stewart, raised their five children.

In 1977, the Scotts settled in a Homewood neighborhood they “loved,” where “the schools were good and we liked the community,” she said.

“I ended up going back to the group about six or seven years ago when I heard what a wonderful director Al Jackson was,” Scott said. “I would say he’s among the very best. He has a wonderful way of bringing the audience and the chorale together.”

Jackson has high praise for his choir members, too, crediting them with creating the professional quality of the choir and allowing them “significant input” into his musical selections for performances.

“A lot of people will say it’s just a community choir, but I would rank this chorus against any other chorus in the Chicago region,” Jackson said. “The difference between a professional group and an ‘amateur group’ is more of an attitude than it is of talent. This is a group with a thoroughly professional attitude.”

As a professional himself, Jackson puts many hours into the chorale despite his full-time position as music department chair at SSC, student choir work, and teaching assignments in both music and international studies.

But he downplays the time he puts into the chorale because it is part of his job, Jackson said. Instead, he admires the dedication of the members who have a rigorous rehearsal schedule, some of them traveling from as far as Kankakee and Indiana to participate.

“They do that because they want to be there,” he said.

Jackson said support from communities such as Homewood is key to the success of the chorale.

“The chorale is very, very much a microcosm of the community,” Jackson said. “Everybody in the audience knows somebody in the chorus. I think that is just a tremendous thing ... that the community supports the community.”

For more information, email Albert Jackson at ajackson@ssc.edu or call (708) 596-2000, Ext. 2349.



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