In 1963, the choirs of First United Methodist Church, Bethlehem Lutheran Church, First Christian Church andWestminster Presbyterian Church combined forces to form an Interfaith Choir. The following concert, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church was added. This group evolved into the Beaumont Interfaith Choral Society.
Over the succeeding years, members of the Beaumont Interfaith Choral Society have represented more than forty churches and synagogues. A unique choral organization in Southeast Texas, this truly ecumenical group comes together annually working in beautiful harmony to prepare and present a concert of fine sacred choral music as a gift to the Southeast Texas community.
Financial support for the choir comes from individual donations and sponsorships, as well as ongoing grants such as the Texas Commission on the Arts, through the Southeast Texas Arts Council.
A Rich History…
The Beaumont Interfaith Choral Society is steeped in history and tradition. Fifty-eight concerts in forty-eight consecutive years; this is our history, and one of which we are justly proud. Thanks to the support of many ministers of the area, the dedication of the members, many who have been with us for the entire 46 years, and the artistry of the singers and instrumentalists alike, the Society has been very successful over the years and enjoys prospects of many more years of contribution to the music culture of Beaumont and the surrounding Southeast Texas area. More than forty churches of several denominations, the synagogues, and the music faculty of Lamar University have been represented on an annual basis.
Members receive no remuneration. Each furnishes his or her own scores and costume for the performance. Rehearsals for the concert begin in mid-August and continue on consecutive Sundays until the Annual Concert Performance in November. Donors, Special Grants, and grants from the Southeast Texas Arts Council, The Nelda C. and H. J. Lutcher Stark Foundation, the Wilton and Effie Mae Hebert Foundation, and over the years, the support of the Mobil Oil Foundation, combined with other donations, make possible our 59th performance in fall 2010.
Our mission is to further promote the interests of our organization and our members to the community. We strive to make a difference by educating the public and expanding our reach.
BICS Interfaith Choir History and Information
from the 50th Anniversary concert program
It has been fifty years since the formation and first performance of the Beaumont Interfaith Choral Society. The choir was the brilliant idea and dedication to classical choral music of four church choir directors, Jane Breining of First Christian Church, Claude Davison of First Methodist Church, Mary Baldwin Woodland of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, and Gladys Harned Quilliam of Westminister Presbyterian Church. The first concert was the Easter portion of Handel’s Messiah. It was performed on Easter Sunday afternoon, April 14, 1963, in the sanctuary of the First Methodist Church of Beaumont. The first choir consisted of 150 singers, 7 soloists, thirteen orchestra members, and an organist. There were twenty-three churches and eight denominations represented.
The choir now presents its sixty-first concert in half a century of existence. There is great pride in the choir history, for perseverance in the presentation of choral music excellence. The spirit of the organization has continued from the beginning, with a mission to perform major classical and contemporary choral works of the great music masters that are suitable to a large choir and orchestra. The mission has also been to bring an annual free concert to the people of Southeast Texas. The choir sings great choral music, performed with excellence and depth, to enrich the quality of life for the performers as well as the audience. The choir has also responded to requests for additional concert presentations in some years. Its history includes choral accompaniment for the Symphony of Southeast Texas for several decades.
The choir has used First United Methodist Church in downtown Beaumont for most of its concert presentations. Larger works and special occasions have necessitated other venues. The list of works performed by the group is impressive. The conductor for our 50th anniversary concert, Dr. L. Randolph Babin, will lead the choir for the 8th time, more than any other person.
Membership in the choir is open to the public, and encompasses all church and synagogue choirs as well as singers with no affiliation. During the last fifty years, our list of members, both active and retired, has become considerably larger. Choir membership has always been enthusiastic, and is supported by music students and the faculty of Lamar University. They represent the best in music education and leadership from our area.
Singers enjoy weekly rehearsals for several months in preparation for the concert. Fellowship is also an important part of the choir, for those who have a love for the music that is sung. Participants in the choir come from the entire Southeast Texas area, including all faiths, races, and diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Among the members are many faithful singers, who participate annually for decades. One of the founders of the choir is still an active singing member, having been present for every concert since the beginning. The choir members choose their organization leaders, and are engaged in the structure and their own music scores and concert dress. Orchestra members and accompanists receive compensation, and the director is given an Honorarium.
Financial support for the choir is generous. It comes fom choir members themselves, area churches, individual people, audiences, businesses, and foundations. Our budget is increasing over the years. This allows the choir to continue its mission and outreach. The choir is thankful for all of its friends.