It was 1947, shortly after the end of World War II, when a group of young Lutheran men from the Detroit area, many of whom were veterans back from the war, decided to start a male chorus. They had diverse backgrounds, but what they shared was a love of the Lord, a talent for singing, and a desire to use their musical talent to share the good news of God’s love. That was the start of the Lutheran Choralaires.
Ralph Pashke remembers the day in 1947 when some of the men first asked him to join their chorus. “I was just a kid of 17,” he recalls. “Some of the guys had heard me sing a solo at my church and asked me to join.” 71 years later, Ralph, a tenor, still sings with the Choralaires. “We called ourselves the Detroit Lutheran Male Chorus in those days, but later changed our name to the Lutheran Choralaires.”
Another of the original members who still sings with the Choralaires is Joe Foerster. Joe recalls how, for the first 30 years, the Choralaires rehearsed every Wednesday evening at Bethany Lutheran Church on the east side of Detroit, first under the directorship of Vera Loeber and then for many years with Gerry List as director. In fact, the Choralaires have always been blessed with accomplished directors, including David Marasus and Erwin Aufdemberge. Today the Choralaires are directed by Terry Herald, an accomplished Detroit-area composer and arranger who was hand-picked by Aufdemberge to be his successor.
Terry earned both Bachelor and Master’s degrees in Music Theory from Wayne State University, then went on to join the faculty at Wayne State and later Oakland University. His accomplishments include commissions for the Detroit Symphony’s Civic Orchestra, the theme for the Lexington Bach Festival, the Metropolitan Youth Symphony, and many others. Terry also wrote musical scores for films such as Air Force One: The Planes and the Presidents, Journey to Justice, The First Rosa, and LCMS’s production Not Without Hope. His television productions included CBS Sports, ABC’s NFL Monday Night Football, the 1994 Winter Olympics, NBC’s Dateline, the Award-Winning PBS series Bob’s Jobs, and others. In addition, Terry owns a recording studio in Oakland Township, where he maintains a robust recording schedule for artists needing a state-of-the-art facility.
“When Erv approached me about replacing him as director of the Choralaires,” Terry remembers, “because of my passion for Lutheran music I told him that I was interested, although I had a very full schedule with my position at Oakland University.” Shortly after meeting with the leadership of the Choralaires, Terry accepted the position as their Director. “I was greatly encouraged to find a group of faithful men, highly dedicated to serving their Lord through music. It has been my honor to serve as their director for the past five years.”
Over the years, the Choralaires have sung in many different venues and locations, including Florida, New York, Ohio, and Canada, although they primarily sing in Michigan. Audience sizes have numbered as large as thousands (the Choralaires are often asked to sing the National Anthem for Lutheran Night at Comerica Park) or a few dozen when singing for small churches in rural areas. “It doesn’t matter,” one Choralaire remarked, “we will sing for whatever Lutheran church invites us, large or small.”
The Lutheran Choralaires are always looking for new members. Any men who are interested in learning more should feel free to contact Terry Herald at firstname.lastname@example.org or Choralaire President Paul Kienman at email@example.com
Photos courtesy of the Lutheran Choralaires