Community Choir Spotlight: Virginia Beach Chorale


The Virginia Beach Chorale is one of southeastern Virginia’s longest-tenured performing arts ensembles and has been a foundational member of the Hampton Roads arts community since 1958. The organization is dedicated to quality performances, music education, and community service. As the resident choral ensemble of the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, they perform a varied repertoire from classics to Broadway and rock to jazz in two main concerts, one during the Christmas season and one in the spring, with additional benefit and collaborative performances throughout the year. Scheduled auditions for new members are held in August and January of each year.

The mission of the Virginia Beach Chorale is to enhance the cultural and musical life of the community and to provide an opportunity for those interested in choral music to participate in these musical endeavors.

Another way the Virginia Beach Chorale gives back to the community is through the annual Lou Sawyer Memorial Scholarship. Named for the Chorale’s director from 1980 until 2008, this scholarship is awarded each year to a graduating high school senior from the Hampton Roads area who has been accepted by a college or university and plans to major in music.

In 1958, a group of about 50 performers led by Mr. and Mrs. Frank Ferrigno gathered and decided that the city of Virginia Beach was large enough to support a civic chorus of its own. They settled on a repertoire that included light music and carols to launch its debut. Their first performance took place in May of 1959 at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, a.k.a. the Dome, under the direction of Charles Daws and accompanied by Mrs. Ferrigno. The Virginia Beach Civic Chorus continued to perform at the Dome over the next few years, and in 1962 they presented An Evening with Gilbert and Sullivan, complete with a staged production of Trial by Jury. That performance was directed by Charles Oliver and was accompanied by a full orchestra. Mr. Oliver took over the directorship in 1963, and the performances of the Chorus, along with its budget, continued to grow and expand. They performed in different venues as well, including local churches and high schools, presenting such ambitious works as The Merry Widow; Carousel; Showboat and various sacred works, such as Vivaldi’s Gloria and Brahms’ Requiem.

1968 began a new chapter for the organization as Walter Noona, well known as the former conductor of the Virginia Symphony Pops Orchestra, took the reins of the directorship. During his tenure, the Chorus made the decision to take a name that reflected its growing vision, and the Virginia Beach Chorale emerged in 1979. Mr. Noona took his final bow as the director of the Chorale at their performance in the spring of 1980. 

It was the good fortune of the Chorale to have Lou Sawyer assume leadership for the 1980 Christmas concert. He brought with him many years of skilled professional experience. Joining him was Jeanette Winsor, an extraordinarily gifted musician; the Chorale could not have wished for a more accomplished and dedicated team. The Chorale performed under Lou’s baton until his death in 2008.

Dr. Don Krudop was selected in the spring of 2009 to assume the position of artistic director of the Virginia Beach Chorale, and the Chorale continues to enjoy many rewarding and entertaining seasons under his gifted leadership.

Artistic Leadership
The artistic director is Dr. Don Krudop, who is also director of choral activities at Regent University. Prior to this, he was chair of the Vocal Music Strand at the Visual and Performing Arts Academy at Salem High School. He holds Doctor of Musical Arts in music education, Master of Music in conducting, and Bachelor of Music Education degrees from Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia as well as a Master of Science in educational administration degree from Regent. While at Shenandoah, he studied conducting with Grammy award winner Robert Shafer. He completed additional postgraduate studies at Westminster Choir College and George Washington University, has sung under the direction of Aaron Copland and Weston Noble, worked with Eph Ely, Rodney Eichenberger and Jing Ling-Tam, and was a participant in the Robert Shaw Carnegie Hall Choral Workshop.

The assistant director is Ned Davis. Ned received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sacred music from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina with proficiencies in voice and conducting. He served as director for the Tryon Community Chorus in Tryon, North Carolina for several years. After moving to the Chesapeake area, he served as minister of music at a local church developing a music program ultimately consisting of seven choral groups including children’s choirs, a handbell track comprising five groups including teens and adults, and a full orchestra as well as other instrumental groups. He currently teaches vocal music at First Colonial High School.

The accompanist for the ensemble is Jeanette Winsor. She studied piano with Clifford Herzer, Lois Rova Ozanich, and Shirley Harrison. She received a Bachelor of Music degree cum laude from Heidelberg College and a Master of Music degree in piano performance from Kent State University. She has occasionally coached with Thomas Schumacher. She teaches piano in her studio in Virginia Beach, music appreciation, theory, and piano at Tidewater Community College, and serves as an adjudicator for the National Guild of Piano Teachers.

Repertoire of The Virginia Beach Chorale:

We Wish You Christmas (Winter 2016)

Sounds of the Season, Mark Hayes; Feliz Navidad, arr. Paul Langford; Mary had a Baby, arr. Philip Kern; Ose Shalom, arr. John Leavitt; Mary, Did You Know, arr. Pentatonix/Roger Emerson; Jingle Bells, arr. Philip Lawson; Hark, the Herald Angels Sing, arr. Dan Forrest; Bring them Home, arr. Greg Gilpin; Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, arr. Jeff Funk; There is Faint Music, Dan Forrest; I Wish You Christmas, John Rutter; Christmas is Coming, arr. Mack Wilberg; Our Wish for You, Mary Kay Beal & John Carter

Don’t Touch That Dial (Spring 2017)

Those Were the Days, Charles Strouse & Lee Adams; Thank You for Being a Friend, arr. Greg Gilpin; Peter Gunn, arr. Jeff Funk; Bandstand Boogie, arr. Kirby Shaw; Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, arr. Robert Page;  Route 66, arr. Dick Averre; Hawaii Five-O, arr. Roger Emerson; Sesame Street Theme, arr. Stephen Zegree; The William Tell Overture, arr. Philip Lawson; The Fishin’ Hole, Earle Hagen & Herbert Spencer; The Love Boat, Charles Fox & Paul Williams; Toon Tunes, arr. Mark Brymer; Mission Impossible, arr. Roger Emerson; I’ll Be There for You, arr. Pete Schmutte; Stay Tuned, arr. Mark Brymer & Mac Huff; Our Wish for You, Mary Kay Beal & John Carter

The Star and the Sleigh – Two Sides of Christmas (Winter 2017)

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, arr. Joseph M. Martin; Angels We Have Heard on High, arr. Peter Anglea; The First Noel, arr. Dan Forrest; Silent Night, arr. Pentatonix & Roger Emerson); There Is No  Rose, arr. Z. Randall Stroope; How Great Our Joy!, arr. Craig Courtney; O Little Town of Bethlehem, arr. Dan Forrest; Lux Aurumque, Eric Whitacre; O Holy Night, arr. Carl Deis; Angels from the Realms of Glory, arr. Dan Forrest; Joy to the World, arr. Mack Wilberg; It’s Beginning to Look Like Christmas, arr. Mark Hayes; The Most Wonderful Time of the Year; arr. Mark A. Brymer; The Christmas Song, arr. Jerry Rubino; Jingle Bells, arr. Mack Wilberg; Deck the Hall, arr. Mack Wilberg; Our Wish for You, Mary Kay Beal & John Carter

Diamond Jubilee – 60 years of Harmony (Spring 2018)

Come to the Music, Joseph M. Martin; Sing a Mighty Song, Daniel E. Gawthrop & Jane Griner; Keep Your Lamps!, arr. André Thomas; The Girl I Left Behind Me, arr. Dan Forrest; Nyon, Nyon, Jake Rumstad; All the Things You Are, arr. Kirby Shaw; lf You’re Gonna Play in Texas, arr. Paul Hart; Under the Boardwalk, arr. SPEBSQSA; Even When He Is Silent, Kim André Arnesen; I Sing Out, Mark Hayes; The Phantom of the Opera, arr. Ed Lojeski; Shenandoah, arr. Kevin A. Memley; Cups (When l’m Gone), arr. Deke Sharon; Ezekiel Saw de Wheel, arr. Willian L. Dawson; Rosanna, arr. Philip Lawson; Battle Hymn of the Republic, arr. Peter J. Wilhousky; Bile Them Cabbage Down, arr. Mack Wilberg; America, the Beautiful: A Festival Finale, arr. James Quitman Mulholland; The Awakening, Joseph Martin; Our Wish for You, Mary Kay Beall & John Carter

Visions of Sugarplums (Winter 2018)

Somewhere in My Memory, arr. Terre McPheeters; The Christmas Waltz, arr. Mac Huff; ln the Bleak Midwinter, arr. Mark Hayes; Remembering Decembers, Pink Zebra; Still, Still, Still, arr. Mack Wilberg; Glow, Eric Whitacre; The Little Drummer Boy, arr. Harry Simeone; O Tannenbaum, arr. Alice Parker & Robert Shaw; This Christmastide, Donald Fraser; Merry Christmas, Darling, arr. Harry Simeone; We Three Kings, arr. Darmon Meader; Christmas Time Is Here, arr. Steve Zegree; Do You Hear What I Hear?, arr. Harry Simeone; Stille Nacht, arr. Jonny Priano; Sleigh Ride, arr. Hawley Ades; Home for the Holidays, arr, Mark Brymer; Our Wish for You, Mary Kay Beall & John Carter

Pop Goes the Chorale (Spring 2019)

That Lonesome Road, arr. Simon Carrington; Can’t Help Falling in Love, arr. Roger Emerson; You’ve Got a Friend, arr. Mac Huff; And So It Goes, arr. Bob Chilcott; (I’ve Had) The Time of My Life, arr. Mac Huff; You Keep Me Hangin’ On, arr. Mark Brymer; Eleanor Rigby, arr. Roger Emerson; Heartache Tonight, arr. Greg Gilpin; Stairway to Heaven, arr. Eric Van Cleave; Make Me Smile, arr. Alan Billingsley; California Dreamin’, arr. Mac Huff; Good Vibrations, arr. Ed Lojeski; The Long and Winding Road, arr. Paul Langford; You’re the Inspiration, arr. Kirby Shaw; Find the Cost of Freedom, arr. Nick Page; Bohemian Rhapsody, arr. Phillip Lawson; Sing to Me, Joseph Martin & Karen Crane; Our Wish for You, Mary Kay Beall & John Carter

Shop all Virginia Beach Chorale repertoire

Tom Dean
Tom Dean
Tom Dean is a Choral Editor, and the Elementary and Secondary General Music Editor for J.W. Pepper & Son, Inc. Prior to working for Pepper, Tom taught instrumental and choral music as well as audio engineering at the high school level in the Delaware public schools for 32 years. He is a member of the ACDA and is active in the Delaware Music Educators where he served in numerous positions including President, All-State Coordinator, Technology chair, and Composition chair, and NAfME where he served as Eastern Division President and NEB member. He also was a member of the music writing team that developed the new music standards for the NCCAS project.