The Society was founded in 1952 by the late Mrs. Florence Wenzel Scudder with the purpose of performing the ‘Messiah’ annually. The group was first known as “The Messiah Choral Society of Sussex County”. Mrs. Wenzel, who later remarried to become Mrs. Scudder, was the organizer, soprano soloist, and first director of the society.
From a starting point of the ‘Messiah’, the society began singing other music and over the years has performed baroque, romantic and modern music. The group originally rehearsed in Sparta, first at the Presbyterian Church, later the Municipal Building. In 1960 the group moved to Newton.
Artistic Directors over the years have included Florence Wenzel Scudder, David Anderson, Willard Newton, Richard Pugsley, R. Lee Smith, John Arnedt, Albert Dorhout, Anita Meyer, John Lawson, Al Kopacka, and our current Artistic Director Joseph Piccirillo.
In December of 2005, a major snowstorm hit Sussex County (no surprise there !!!), but it coincided with our Christmas Concert. As a result the concert was rescheduled to early January.
To everyone's surprise our audience significantly increased !!! So, every year since we have performed our Christmas Concert on the first Sunday in January. Going forward we are re branding our performance as a Winter Concert since it may not always occur on the first or second Sunday in January. See "Upcoming Concert" page for specifics.
From time to time, depending upon the program, outside soloists and musicians are utilized to complement the chorus of approximately 60.
Some quotes from members:
“It’s harder than church music and it’s beautiful music”
“I joined the Society because it’s the only opportunity I get to sing classical music around here”
“It’s rewarding if you do something well”
“I sing with the group because in totally concentrating on music every Monday evening I am able to retreat from the pressures of the business world. It is total immersion”
Today, SCOS is much more than a collection of singers offering classical style music. We explore all manner of quality choral singing, employing a range of instrumental accompaniments, while endeavoring to educate and enlighten our audiences and ourselves throughout the northwest corner of New Jersey.
The Society meets Wednesday evenings, September through May at the Student Center, Sussex County Community College, Newton, NJ from 7:45 pm to 9:45 pm.
Auditions for new members are held at the start of each Semester in September and January.
Dues are $50 per semester which includes the ownership of all music.
New members are also required to purchase concert attire of a dress or jacket at a cost of $60.
Concerts are performed in January and May.
The works chosen are both varied and challenging. Rehearsals, led by our Artistic Director Joseph S. Piccirillo, are very enjoyable in a relaxed, friendly atmosphere.
Periodic social gatherings allow members to get to know each other and many friendships have been forged over the years.
As a form of community outreach, we volunteer to sing at area nursing homes and hospitals, and have performed at other events throughout the area.
The Society, which is a non-profit organization, is run very efficiently by a Board of Directors which meets monthly to review and set policy and goals. We welcome new members and look forward to exploring new musical challenges.
Funding has been made available, in part, by the New Jersey Council on the Arts / Department of State, a partner of the National Endowment for the Arts, through the State/County Partnership Block Grant Program, as administered by the Sussex County Arts and Heritage Council.
President: Tom Yates
Vice President: Kathleen Marshall
Treasurer: Curt Wilson
Recording Secretary: Joy Sullivan
Corresponding Secretary: Debbie Nannery
Past President / Archivist: Dick Butera
Members-at-Large: Alicia Cruz
Member Ex-Officio: Joe Piccirillo
Board meetings are held the second Wednesday of
each month Oct - Apr at 06:45 in the Student Center
Additional meetings are scheduled in May and August
Joseph holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from New York University and a Master’s degree from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ. Maestro Piccirillo spent over a decade as a conductor, educator, and performer in New York City before returning to Sussex County. For several years, he served as a rehearsal conductor for Carnegie Hall, which led him to work with some of the greatest orchestras and solo artists in the world. Today, in addition to leading SCOS, Maestro Piccirillo teaches voice and works as an adjunct professor of music at Sussex County Community College. By day, he is a principal, director of special projects, and the district supervisor of the performing arts department in the Vernon schools.
Paul holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Wilkes University. He has studied piano under Nellie Douglas, Seymour Bernstein, Seth Kimmelman, Anne Vanko Liva, and Roosevelt Newson. He performs extensively with the Fersch Trio and as a solo artist. Paul has been an active studio musician and has composed works for solo piano. Additionally, he has composed psalm settings for the three year church cycle in his post as Organist/Music Director for Saint Mary's Church in Wharton, NJ.
May 2019 - The Key of Sea
January 2019 - The Mystery of the Season
May 2018 - A Little Night Music
January 2018 - Merry & Bright
May 2017 - Journey in Song Part II, selections from the last 20 years
January 2017 - Journey in Song Part I, Christmas selections from last 20 years
May 2016 - I Can Sing A Rainbow
January 2016 - Jesus The King Is Born
May 2015 - Beethoven Mass in C Major
January 2015 - Joyeux Noel, A French Christmas
May 2014 - In Songs Of Joy - The Music of Beethoven
January 2014 - Emanuel: "God With Us"
May 2013 - American Folk Songs: Our Musical Heritage
January 2013 - Christmas in the British Isles
May 2012 - Opera Favorites (with The New Sussex Symphony)
January 2012 - Joy of Christmas
May 2011 - Opera Favorites (with New Sussex Symphony)
January 2011 - Buon Natale! Christmas Italian Style
May 2010 - Let Us Have Peace
January 2010 - Holiday with Handbells
May 2009 - The Wonder of his Work
January 2009 - Winter Celebrations
May 2008 - Songs of the Spirit
January 2008 - Epiphany's Here
May 2007 - An A+ in Music
January 2007 - Christmas in the Western World
May 2006 - Saturday Night at the Opera II
January 2006 - A Bach Family Holiday
May 2005 - Saturday Night at the Opera
January 2005 - A 19th Century Christmas
May 2004 - Sacred Music in Classic Style