Masterworks Chorale a holiday delight all year around in Muncie IN

Accomplished artist leads community group at High Street Methodist in Downtown, Muncie

By Rick Yencer

Conductor Andrew Crow / Photo by Rick Yencer

MUNCIE, INDIANA (NEWS) - Andrew Crow mused looking around the confines of High Street United Methodist Church while directing Masterworks Chorale that offered "Sounds of the Season" Saturday night.

 Thankful that pastor Dale Mendenhall opened the church doors to the Christmas sing,, Crow, a Ball State music professor, recalled when the community opened its doors to High Street when a gas explosion and fire destroyed the first Methodist church when Muncie became a city.

 Some of members of the chorale, like Gale Bales Townsend, was a witness that night more than 30 years ago near Christmas ofthe downtown disaster. Townsend was in the old Muncie Star office across the street when she heard the explosion. Looking out the window, she saw the beautiful stain glass wall on the west side of the church fall to the ground.

High Street rebuilt and continued its tradition of giving and sharing as the chorale sang Christmas classics like "Deck the Hall" and "Joy to the World." And a visit by Santa Claus handing out hats and caps thrilled the young and old alike among more than 150 people that attended the concert.

More than 50 people from the church choirs, Ball State music and just those who like to sing make up the chorale. And some of long time artists like Vicki Peterson, Ross Van Ness, Jan Stratton, Annemarie Voss, and Al Kundenreich have literally spent their lives providing that classic sound only a 50-member choir could.

Masterworks just celebrated its 36th year of performing after beginning as the East Central Indiana Community Singers. A decade later, the group took the name of Masterworks Chorale to reflect their artistic mastery.

Their office and practice stage is at Cornerstone Center for the Arts, but their holiday concerts can be found in churches, at Ball State or other venues. The next concert will be on Saint Valentine's Day.

Crow came on board last summer as the group's new artistic director. He is well know to the High Street congregation as music director who developed a music-based sermon every Sunday at 11 a.m.

 Since 2009, Crow has taught music at Ball State and directs choral activities, like leading the Ball State Statesmen and the Chamber Choir.

He got a doctorate degree in music arts and conducting from the University of Minnesota and taught at Rutgers before coming to Ball State.

Crow and his composers brought a unique performance to the audience, that started with wonder and mystery of the holiday to the more traditional carols symbolic from today and yesterday.

The concert started with Daniel Pinkham's Christmas Cantata that is always a favorite besides "Fear Not" from both new and old Testament texts of the wonder of the Angel of the Lord appearing to shepherds and their celebration of calling out the names of Christ.

Three more selections of classic beauty included rhe 12th Century "Wexford Carol" to futuristic "This Christmas Night" and Christina Rosetti's poem, "In the bleak Mid-winter."

 That poem fit the cold wintry night after a few inches of snow Saturday that did not stop a crowd from hearing the classic choir.

 Crow ended the concert with more classic songs along with that visit by Santa that reflects the giving tradition.

 Masterworks, underwritten by both Community and George and Francis Ball foundations, can be found at