The Southwestern Seminary Master Chorale will continue to pursue its long tradition as one of the premier symphonic choruses in America, presenting beautiful, inspirational, expressive and exciting choral music.
The Southwestern Seminary Master Chorale is committed to upholding the following core values:
In 1915 the School of Sacred Music at Southwestern Seminary was founded under three governing principles: Spiritual and Evangelistic Fervor, Scholarly and Efficient Musicianship, and Practicality in Application. Beginning in 1921, a group named the Seminary Choral Club was formed under the leadership of I.E. Reynolds. Reynolds began conducting the chorus in annual performances of Handel's Messiah, a tradition which continues uninterrupted to the present.
In the early 1950s the choral club was renamed the Southwestern Seminary Oratorio Chorus because of its association with the Messiah performance. The orchestra that accompanied the Chorus in the early days was the Fort Worth Little Symphony Orchestra, the forerunner of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra (FWSO) of today under Miguel Harth-Bedoya.
In 1988/89 Dean McKinney and Dr. David Keith made the decision to begin auditioning community singers to augment the choir, enabling the students to perform works of a larger scale. The relationship with the now bigger Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra grew through the 1990s and included numerous concerts sponsored by the FWSO and Southwestern, as well as several joint recordings. The chorus has also been a source of experiential education for student assistants to the Director of the Chorus, a rare opportunity which helps to prepare them for ministry and professional music careers.
In 2008, in recognition of the great history of the choir and the change in focus from the singular presentation of Handel's most famous oratorio to a much wider breadth of literature and venues, the chorus was renamed the Southwestern Seminary Master Chorale.
In May 2011, the Southwestern Master Chorale, in conjuntion with the Southwestern Singers, premiered two works at the Avery Fisher Hall, part of New York City's famed Lincoln Center. The two works, Peace Ascends and Excursion were composed by Southwestern Seminary's own Dr. Stephen Johnson and Dr. William "Mac" Davis, respectively. As well as the premiere pieces, the chorale also had the honor of performing W.A. Mozart's Requiem in the heart of America's premiere musical city.
Professor of Church Music, Chair of the Conducting Department, and Robert L. Burton Chair of Conducting
David Thye (pronounced "Tea"), the Robert L. Burton Chair of Graduate Conducting at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Chorus Master of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, is a passionate conductor, educator, lecturer and clinician. While inspiring excellence through discipline and musical integrity, Dr. Thye consistently delivers cutting-edge live performances with sincerity, focus and enthusiasm.
With over 30 years of leadership experience in music, Thye has conducted and managed numerous music and drama organizations, from elementary to high school, university to adults, and community to professional ensembles—encompassing such varied genres as jazz, symphonic works, musical theatre, opera and oratorio. At ease conducting instrumentalists or vocalists, orchestras or choirs, he enjoys combining musical forces in performance.
Having received his B.A. degree in Music Education and Voice from the University of Sioux Falls, Thye began his teaching career as a public school choral director. By 1992, he had earned both the Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts Degrees in Choral Conducting from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music. He has studied with such noted teachers as Eph Ehly, Weston Noble, Margaret Hillis, Don Moses, LeRoy Pogemiller, Gerald Kemner, Glenn Block, Ron Nelson, Rod Walker, Kerchal Armstrong, and many others. Thye has conducted, performed in, or produced hundreds of oratorios, operas, or large-scale productions throughout his career.
As an advocate for outstanding sacred music, Thye has been a significant force for musical excellence in the church. Opposing the musical mediocrity that threatens worship in today's church, he is committed to promoting the integrity of hymnody and textually deep songs of worship while utilizing the fine choral and instrumental talent often found within the church. With this philosophy, Thye has been Director of Music and Worship in several churches with weekly attendance ranging up to 5,000 people. These churches include First Baptist Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, First Mennonite Brethren Church in Wichita, Kansas, and Grace Community Church in Tempe, Arizona.
Various high school, collegiate and professional choral organizations under Thye's direction have been selected to perform in Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall and Carnegie Hall in New York City, in Los Angeles with the Young American's National Invitational Choral Festival, for the State Music Educators and ACDAs of Kansas, South Dakota, Montana and Arizona, and for the MENC North Central Convention. In recognition of his outstanding success as a conductor and music educator, the University of Sioux Falls presented him with its Alumni Pacesetter Award.
Before coming to Southwestern Seminary, Thye was Principal Conductor-in-Residence with MidAmerica Productions in New York City (the largest independent producer of concerts in Carnegie Hall). Prior to his position in New York City, he was the Founder of the Southwestern College Music Department in Phoenix, Arizona, where he was Professor of Music, Director of Choral Activities, and Music Department Chairman. Additionally, Thye has held similar posts at both the University of Montana in Missoula and the University of Sioux Falls in South Dakota.
Along with his annual concert schedule with Southwestern and the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Thye conducts numerous choral festivals throughout the nation. He continues to be affiliated with MidAmerica Productions as Principal Associate Conductor where he conducts performances of major works throughout the year in Carnegie Hall.