Great Rivers Choral Society began its evolution in August of 2001 when several local vocal artists met stating an interest in forming a high caliber choral group to complement the Alton Symphony Orchestra by providing vocal music to the community. The group immediately began efforts to recruit musical talent to the choral society using public announcements. The response was overwhelming which convinced the group that the vision of GRCS was shared throughout the community.
Nancy Welch was recruited as musical director and by November, auditions were held and GRCS became a reality.
By March of 2002, the group was ready for its first public performance. Since then, the chorus has grown to approximately 45 members and attendance at concerts currently averages over 300. The 2002/2003 season included four concerts with ticket sales and several free performances throughout the community. Nancy continues to expand the musical horizons of both the chorus and the audience by offering a diverse selection of music. The chorus members are frequently challenged with more difficult compositions.
While the musical development of the group was moving along, a volunteer board of directors was formed. The group was comprised of individuals with diverse organizational skills and a shared love of music. The board was able to secure a $5,000 loan from a local bank in order to start operations. The board completed all of the activities and paperwork required to incorporate and applied for non-profit status which was received in April of 2002. In addition to securing donations from various music lovers in the area, a dinner auction was held in June of 2002. The success of the fund raising efforts enabled GRCS to pay off the loan and plan for continued operations funded largely through paid performances, donations and grants.
In late Fall, 2002 GRCS experienced the first test of sustainability. The treasurer of the organization, a long-time supporter of the arts in the Alton-Godfrey area, and who had been instrumental in establishing the GRCS legal and tax-exempt status was relocated to Columbus Ohio. Shortly thereafter, the group was also without a president. During this time, several emergency meetings of the board were held; Ray West, then Vice President stepped up to assume the role of Acting President, Ann Cacciottoli, a local volunteer, took on the treasurer’s responsibilities, and the rest of the board continued its diligent efforts in fund raising, public relations and support. Due to employment demands, Ann resigned from the board in 2005 and Loretta Mason assumed the treasurer duties. She was followed by Gary Witt, the current Treasurer.
The board meets monthly, but communicates on a regular basis through an internet newsgroup. In addition to frequent collaboration on operational aspects, the board is focusing on a revised constitution and by-laws, and documenting organizational procedures and policy.