The West Shore Chorale was founded in 1968 by a group of Lakewood residents dedicated to bringing excellent choral music to Cleveland’s West Side. The effort was spearheaded by former Lakewood Mayor, Robert Lawther, who was frustrated by the lack of opportunities to perform challenging choral repertoire close to home.
Debuting at the Lakewood Civic Auditorium in May 1969, the Chorale has been an anchor in the lives of singers and audience members for decades. The group’s annual holiday concert has become a community tradition for West Siders. The Chorale is known for the variety of repertoire they perform. Choral/Orchestral works which are often overlooked and are not usually performed by either church choirs or large symphony choruses have become a specialty with the Chorale.
Under the direction of Artistic Director, John Drotleff for the past 33 years, the Chorale has performed over 80 major choral/orchestral compositions, including many seldomperformed works such as Bruckner’s E minor Mass, Mendelssohn’s St. Paul and Handel’s Samson. As part of its community outreach the Chorale often collaborates with local schools and performance groups, featuring musicians of all ages and skill levels. In 2010, the Chorale began the Choral Scholars program, inviting area high school students to sing with the group.
In February 2011, the group appeared in a costumed concert version of the opera Aida with Opera Circle Cleveland and the Cleveland Women’s Orchestra. Other recent collaborators include the Cleveland Philharmonic, Canton Symphony,Avon Lake High School, Avon Lake Learwood Middle School, the Beck Center, the Lakewood High School Symphonic Mixed Choir and others. The group has also performed in England with John Rutter, for professional music organizations and even in a “flash mob” at Cleveland’s West Side Market.