The Civic Chorale of Greater Miami: Based in Tradition

A community group bonded by loyalty to one another and a passion for music was founded in 1970 by two former University of Miami deans, William F. Lee of the Frost School of Music and Robert Allen of Continuing Studies.

In the 37 years since, the Civic Chorale of Greater Miami has come to define “community” and “commitment to quality.” Those definitions and much more will be illustrated in an upcoming concert at UM when the chorale joins forces with Barry University, the South Florida Music Ensemble, and acclaimed pianist Martin Camacho to present “Fall in Love with Musical Mozart.”

The chorale’s UM connection has remained strong: Robert Gower, an active member of the chorale since 1972 who was named its artistic director in 2001, is a professor of music theory and composition at the university.

“Dr. Bob,” as everyone knows him, works with Paul Whiting, chorale assistant artistic director, to maintain the group’s traditions, while expanding musical selections and performance venues.

“The unique thing about the Civic Chorale is that it allows professionals-doctors, lawyers, university professors, individuals from all walks of life-to rediscover the joy of music,” Gower said. “Many enjoyed performing music in high school and college, and through the chorale, they are able to meet once a week and gain fellowship in recreating those musical experiences.”

For this chorale, “community” also means diversity. Not only are members from diverse backgrounds and cultures, but they also perform pieces that reflect their backgrounds.

While most choral groups sing in the traditional languages of English, Latin and German, the Civic Chorale incorporates Hawaiian, Taiwanese, Spanish and other languages.

The group has also shared many performances with other choral-orchestra groups such as The Israel Philharmonic, London Philharmonic and The New World Symphony.

Martin Camacho, visiting music instructor at Barry University and award-winning proponent of Mexican music, will perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 23. Before Barry, Camacho was a teaching assistant at UM’s Frost School of Music from 1999 to 2002, where he also received his doctorate of music. He is the proud winner of 18 local and national music competitions.

Camacho, who has never before worked with the chorale, said he is excited about the collaboration with Barry University’s choir.

“Starting the season with two of the most important choir organizations in South Florida is one of the city’s highest cultural points,” Camacho said.

The event will also bring holiday spirit to South Florida, featuring soloists from Barry University on both traditional and non-traditional pieces. For example, “Flight of the Valkyries,” a generally traditional piece, will be performed with a comedic twist that the audience will love.

Says Stacy Laffere, executive director of the chorale: “We hope people in South Florida will come out to benefit from this incredible collaboration of musical minds.”

To Know:

The concert will be at 8 p.m. in Gusman Concert Hall, 1314 Miller Drive, on the UM campus. A pre-concert raffle features $4,000 in prizes, including a tarpon fishing trip in Marathon, gift certificates to Land’s End, an AT&T cellular phone with 6 months free service, and much more.

The audience can expect “In Remembrance” by Jeffrey L. Ames, written to commemorate the lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. Other pieces: “Christmas Goes Classical,” by David Maddux, and “Magnificat,” one of Johann Sebastian Bach’s major vocal works.

For more information or ticket sales, please contact Laffere at (305) 807-5552.

Ally Thaler may be contacted at