Founded in 1993, Vesper Chorale took its name from the early evening prayer service of the traditional church liturgy, and originally performed exclusively sacred music. Led by its educational mission, the choir has partnered with church, high school, and college music departments, providing participants with a professional-level performance experience. In recent years its mission has expanded to include multiple ensembles, both vocal and instrumental, and its repertoire has evolved to reflect a new, broader sensibility.
In November of 2008, Vesper Chorale launched a new initiative, its Diverse Journeys Concert Series, aspiring to collaborate with ethnic communities in celebrating the music and history of their respective cultures. Vesper Chorale performed Donald McCullough's Holocaust Cantata -- Songs from the Camps at Temple Beth-El in South Bend, Indiana, Temple Jeremiah in Northfield, Illinois, and the Indiana Choral Directors Association summer conference. Public Broadcasting Station WNIT recorded and aired the performance in a production nominated for an Indiana Broadcasters Association Spectrum Award. Vesper Chorale followed this with a program of all Jewish Music at the St. Joseph Valley Jewish Federation Annual Meeting in June of 2010.
A series of programs with Mount Carmel Missionary Baptist Church began in May of 2011, exploring the musical traditions of the African-American heritage. This series continued with its third program developed for the 2015-2016 season. In addition, connections with the Latino community — through the congregation of St. Adalbert’s Parish — began with a concert in 2012 and continued in 2014. This connection was possible through the work of Argentinean composer Ariel Ramirez, being featured in the Spanish language newspaper El Puente.
Vesper Chorale has been recognized with awards from the Kurt and Tessye Simon Fund for Holocaust Remembrance, Memorial Hospital Foundation, Elnora Stickley Foundation, Indiana Arts Commission, Indiana Council for the Humanities, the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County, Progress Club of South Bend, and the Josephson Music Trust. In 2008, in commemoration of its 15th Anniversary, Vesper Chorale, Inc. received a citation from the Mayor of South Bend for its contribution to the community through the arts.
The ensemble rehearses at Kern Road Mennonite Church in South Bend on Thursday evenings. Auditions are held in late summer each year.