Michael Shane Wittenburg
Hailed as a “real virtuoso” by the late Ruth Laredo, conductor and
pianist Michael Shane Wittenburg made his European debut with
the Romanian National Theater of Opera and Ballet “Oleg
Danovski” conducting Puccini’s Turandot. He has been active with
many companies in the greater NYC area, including the New
Jersey Association of Verismo Opera, the Hudson Valley Chorale,
and the Morris Choral Society where he has only recently become
the Music Director.
He has been an assistant conductor and vocal coach at opera
companies in Nashville, Orlando, and Sarasota. While at Nashville
Opera, he directed 66 performances of the world premiere children’s opera, The Ugly
Duckling by Andrew Duncan. Currently he is the Music Director of the Elite Academy for
Strings in NJ, where he conducts the Elite Academy Chamber Orchestra which received
Third Prize in The American Prize competition for best youth orchestra. He has been a
faculty member of the Heifetz International Music Institute, was the interim Conductor of
the Chattanooga Symphony Youth Orchestra, and has appeared in collaborative recital
with such artists as Metropolitan Opera soprano Stella Zambalis, violinist Livia Sohn, and
Orpheus Ensemble oboist Gerard Reuter.
A graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy, Mr. Wittenburg’s training includes Bachelor’s
and Master’s degrees in Piano Performance from the Eastman School of Music in
Rochester, NY, and a Master’s degree in Orchestral Conducting from the University of
Tennessee at Chattanooga. His teachers include Henry Charles Smith, David Effron, Dr.
Steven Bird, and Michael Jinbo at the renowned Pierre Monteux School for Conductors
and Orchestral Musicians. In The American Prize competition he was awarded Third
Prize in youth orchestra conducting, and was a Finalist in the professional opera
Since its inception, the Morris Choral Society, (MCS) has developed a vast
and varied repertoire, including many major works.
ln addition to the established repertoire, the Society is also committed to the
performance of new works, and over the last few years, several newly
published compositions have been dedicated to the Morris Choral Society. ln
1980, the Society was proud to commission its first major work - a setting of
the Gloria, by the renowned American composer Kevin Norris.
As evidence of its dedication to growth, the MCS has consistently
demonstrated its versatility by excelling in a wide range of contemporary
music styles and expanding its venue of performances to such places as the
MAYO Performing Arts Center in Morristown. Examples of the group's
versatility include international folk songs sung in their native languages,
American folk music, the Broadway theatre, and an impressive list of serious
choral music from the Renaissance to the present with several premier
performances, and a wide range of sacred music.
Funding has been made possible in part by the Arts Council of the Morris
Area through the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State,
a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funding
has also been provided by the Arts Council of the Morris Area/Dodge
Foundation Partnership and by the Masterwork Music and Art Foundation.
History of the Morris Choral Society
In 1972 fire destroyed the United Methodist Church on the Green in Morristown, and for the next
two years the Methodist congregation held its services in the sanctuary of Temple B'nai Or.
As the new Methodist Church neared completion, R. Wayne Walters, the bass soloist at both the
Methodist Church and at Temple B'nai Or, composed a setting of the Friday Evening Service,
Shabbat Hodaah, and dedicated it to the B'nai Or congregation and Rabbi Z. David Levy. To
perform the work, a chorus was assembled made up of choir members from area churches.
The performance was such a success that in the spring of 1973, Rabbi Levy asked Walters to
reassemble the group and perform a concert of Russian and Israeli folk music for the 25th
Anniversary of the State of Israel. The resounding success of this event caused several of the
singers to suggest that the group remain together under Walters' leadership. In the summer of
1973 the Morris Choral Society (MCS) was incorporated, and it performed for the first time that
Since its founding the ecumenical Society has made significant contributions to the local choral
scene and throughout the Northern New Jersey area as well as appearing on NBC television's
"First Estate" program. Its concert year, in general, includes two major concerts in and about
Morris County. It has also served the Community through appearances at many of Morristown's
annual celebrations of Independence Day, the historical Holly Walk, its popular Fall Festival On the
Green, and most recently First Night. The Society has received international recognition
performing successful concerts in England in 1990, Ireland in 1994, Scotland and Wales in 1996,
France in 1998 and Italy in the summer of 2000. Also MCS has been represented by
"ambassadorial" choral contingents in multi-choral units in Eastern Europe in 1997 and 2000. In
the process the Society has assembled a vast and varied musical repertoire, the cornerstone of
which is an impressive list of serious music from the Renaissance to the present.
MCS has participated in a number of particularly exciting events. It performed with Judy Collins in
her Christmas Show; and with Dave Brubeck in La Fiesta de la Posada, at the Community
Theatre. Another highlight was singing the Beethoven Ninth (Choral) Symphony and Bloch's
Sacred Service under Leon Hyman with the New NJ Philharmonic. Several collaborations with
Jazz Pianist Rio Clemente and Friends have been popular as well. A Gershwin concert at the
Morristown Community Theatre was sung to a sold-out audience of enthusiastic listeners.
As stated, MCS touring ensembles have performed in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France,
Italy, Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic, at premier churches and municipal sites.
Especially moving were appreciations expressed to all Americans by municipal officials at two
Morris Choral Society concerts in Caen, France, on the 50th Anniversary of D-Day liberations.
Funding has been made possible in part by the Arts Council of the Morris Area through the New
Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National
Endowment for the Arts. Additional funding has also been provided by the Arts Council of the
Morris Area/Dodge Foundation Partnership.
R. WAYNE WALTERS is a well-known New Jersey musician who
sings, composes, and conducts in the Morris area and beyond.
Mr. Walters was the founder, conductor, and music director of the
Morris Choral Society of Morristown, New Jersey, now in its 43rd
year. The chorus performs locally throughout the concert season
and has toured England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France, Italy,
The Czech Republic, and Poland. In December of 2005 and again
in 2006 Mr. Walters was selected as one of the conductors for the
New York Choral Society's annual Messiah Sing-in in Avery Fisher
Hall. For the Morris Choral Society's 2007 concert season, the chorus included the premier
performance of the Walters Requiem Mass in D-minor along with the Bernstein Chichester
Psalms. In July, 2007, Mr. Walters conducted the chorus on a concert tour of Germany and
After graduation from Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania with a B.S. degree in
Music Education, Mr. Walters was granted a graduate voice scholarship by the Juilliard
School, where he was a student of the renowned coach and music editor, Sergius Kagen. He
earned an M.A. degree in voice and conducting at the College of New Jersey in Trenton.
As a professional bass-baritone, Mr. Walters has performed in concert, recital, oratorio,
opera, and musical comedy throughout Europe and the Eastern United States, and with
musical organizations including the Wyoming Valley Oratorio Society, the New Shrewsbury
Choral, The University Men's Glee Club of New York, The New Philharmonic Orchestra,
Summit Symphony, Montclair Civic Chorus and Orchestra, Princeton Opera Theater, Sussex
Symphony and Lyric Opera Company, and the College of New Jersey Opera Workshop. Mr.
Walters sang the bass solos in Verdi's Requiem with the original Masterwork Chorus under
David Randolph, and made his Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center debuts in Handel's Messiah
with the same chorus and conductor.
Mr. Walters was a music educator in the New Jersey Public Schools for thirty-six years, a
member of the faculty of Fairleigh Dickenson University and the Encore Music Camp at
Wilkes University in PA. He was theory instructor and director of choruses at Morristown High
School, and was a guest conductor for the New Jersey School Music Association. In 1986 he
was selected as Master Choral Music Teacher by the NJ Music Educators Association. He
received The Governor's Award for excellence in the "Arts In Education Program" in New
Jersey. Mr. Walters achieved national recognition as one of eight educators selected to
participate in the filming of Craft And Joy In Teaching, a videotape for teacher training in
American Colleges and Universities, made possible through The Geraldine R. Dodge
Foundation. In 2001 Mr. Walters was recognized by the Arts Council of the Morris Area as
"Outstanding Professional in the Arts." Mr. Walters was instructor of voice and adjunct
professor of music at the College of Saint Elizabeth in Morristown. Wayne and his wife, Ann,
live in Morris Plains, New Jersey.
2013 - 2014 Award Winner: Emily Sung of Lawrenceville, NJ
Emily is a first year graduate student at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ,
where she is studying for a Masters Degree in Choral Conducting. Emily grew up in
Lawrenceville, NJ and earned her Bachelor's Degree in History at Princeton University.
After graduating, she continued on at Princeton for two years to study choral conducting
with Gabriel Crouch, and to assistant conduct the Princeton University Glee Club under
Upon completion of her Masters Degree at Westminster, Emily plans to pursue a
Doctorate in Music.
2012 - 2013 Award Winner: Naomi Ortiz of Kearny, NJ
Naomi, a sophomore at New Jersey City University, is pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in
Music Education with a concentration in Classical Voice Performance. Naomi is a lyric
soprano and studies voice under the tutelage of Sondra Kelly.
Naomi's previous honors include being inducted into the National Society of Collegiate
Scholars and receiving the George Hansler Choral Music Education Scholarship. Naomi
would like to send a special thanks to her youngest brother, Nor Ortiz, for being her
inspiration and to her entire family for their continuing love and support.
Stephanie Leotsakos is a senior at Princeton University majoring in music composition
and minoring in vocal performance and teacher preparation. She aspires to be a
professional opera singer and attend graduate school soon after graduation. Stephanie
has performed various roles with the New York Lyric Opera Theatre, Princeton Music
Department, and the Princeton Opera Company including Susanna and Barbarina in
Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, Belinda in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, Anna in
Jonathan Dove’s Tobias and the Angel, Athena and Venus in Monteverdi’s The
Coronation of Poppea, and Amelia in Menotti’s Amelia Goes to the Ball. She currently
studies with David Kellett, active lyric tenor and voice faculty at Princeton University. At
the completion of this academic year she will be giving a full vocal recital on May 15
and two full productions of her senior thesis, an original opera titled OMG, at the end of
If you are:
1. A New Jersey resident or student currently attending a New Jersey school,
2 Age 19 or older,
3. Pursuing a major or course of study in one of the following disciplines:
a) Vocal performance
b) Vocal conducting
c) Music education with a major in voice
Audition CD/DVD and Needs Statement should be subnitted to the Scholarship Committee at PO Box 1783,
Morristown, NJ 07960.
Finalists will interview with the Scholarship Committee.
Please consider applying for our $2500 scholarship for the 2022-23 school year. To apply, click on the
Application button and when the file appears, click on the printer icon at the bottom of the page to print the
application form. We look forward to hearing from you!
2010 - 2011 Award Winner: Chelsea Rose Friedlander, of Port Murray, NJ
Chelsea recently received her Master's degree from Manhattan School of Music, where she
studied with the head of the Vocal Department, Maitland Peters.
She has an active performance schedule, along with audio and video of recent performances,
Funding has been made possible in part by the Arts Council of the Morris Area through the
New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National
Endowment for the Arts. Additional funding has also been provided by the Arts Council of the
Morris Area/Dodge Foundation Partnership.
2011 - 2012 Award Winner: Taylor Kurilew, of South Plainfield, NJ
Taylor is a senior at Montclair State University, where she is pursuing a degree in Music
Education with a concentration in Voice at the John J. Cali School of Music. Taylor studies
with Professor Anastasia Swope.
After Taylor finishes her degree in the spring of 2013 she plans to go right back to school to
pursue a Masters in Vocal Performance.
On the above dates, the chorus sang a concert entitled, “Greatest Hits of Opera and
Broadway, featuring soprano Christina Major. Also performing were Alicia Bozza,
Donna Anderle, Wendy Schramm and Wayne Walters from the chorus. Selections
were from the operas La Traviata, Il Trovatore, Nabucco, Tosca, and others.
From Broadway, we sang songs from The Tender Land, Phantom of the Opera, A
Little Night Music, Oh, Kay, Candide and West Side Story. The Express Male Sextet
also sang songs from Broadway.
May 18 & 19, 2019
The chorus was unable to perform in 2020 and in the spring
of 2021 due to the pandemic, but we were able to resume
performing live during the Holidays of 2021. Our program
was entitled, “Tidings of Comfort and Joy”, and was
presented at the United Methodist Church on the Green in
Morristown. The concert was conducted by our Director
Emeritus, Wayne Walters. The program included a wide
variety of Holiday favorites from classical “O Magnum
Mysterium” to Gospel Rock. Also performing was the
Express Male Sextet.
Dec. 19, 2021
Our Spring concert for 2022 was held at the Trinity Lutheran
Church in Morris Plains, NJ.
The Morris Choral Society performed in a live concert
celebrating great music from Randall Thompson’s Testament
of Freedom, and also from his Frostiana. There were also
selections from the Early American Music of Aaron Copland.
There were also several selections from the Express Male
Our guest soloist for the concert was Jonathan R. Green, an
American Verdi Baritone. He has performed internationally
at many venues.
May 15, 2022
Dec. 10, 2022
Our fall concert was held at the Methodist Church on
the Green in Morristown, NJ. The concert was
directed by Michael Shane Wittenburg, and the chorus
was accompanied by Jennifer Yang.
The program included songs from Stephen
Sondheim’s Choral Celebration, including Not While
I’m Around, Losing My Mind, and Send In The Clowns.
Three sections from Rutter’s Magnificat, and an organ
solo by Jennifer Yang completed the first half of the
After the intermission, the Express Male sextet sang
five diverse songs. Then the chorus sang a variety of
fun holiday music, followed by the usual audience
sing-along. The program ended with the chorus and
the audience singing the Hallelujah Chorus from
Solos were performed by Nancy Fenimore, Susan
Waldman, Donna Anderle, Adrienne Colangelo and
See and hear us!
Fiat Pax in Virtue tua, from "The Peacemakers", by Karl Jenkins:
Solitude, from "The Peacemakers", by Karl Jenkins
Byung Kook Kwak, Violin Soloist playing his Stradivarius violin:
Beethoven Choral Fantasy, Op. 20
with Michael Fennelly, Piano accompanist:
Donate to the Morris Choral Society
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Society General Fund
Make a memorial donation to honor a
loved one or friend
Donate to the Morris Choral Society using a
credit card or PayPal:
Make a donation to the Morris Choral
Society Scholarship Fund
Please consider purchasing an ad in our fall and spring
concert folders. Ad costs are $70 for a ¼ page, $125 for a ½
page, and $225 for a full page. A full page on the inside cover
is $250. The above payments purchase an ad in both the fall
and spring concert programs. Please contact Elsie Donohue
at 973-723-6424 to purchase an ad. Ads must be purchased
by Nov. 13 to be included in the fall and spring programs.
Morris Choral Society Policy Statement:
The Morris Choral Society has a firm commitment to safeguard the privacy of our customers.
We collect the e-mail addresses of those who purchase tickets from our web site so that we may send ticket
confirmation to the purchaser’s e-mail address, or so that we may respond to questions regarding our organization
or our performances. We may also collect your e-mail address under the following circumstance:
When it is necessary to share information in order to investigate, prevent, or take action regarding illegal activities,
suspected fraud, situations involving potential threats to the physical safety of any person, or as otherwise required
The Morris Choral Society uses your personal information only to conduct business with you. Your personally
identifiable information will not be rented, sold or shared with any third party except as otherwise agreed by you.
The Morris Choral Society uses collected information for the sole purposes of forwarding ticket confirmations to
your e-mail address, or for responding to questions you have asked about our organization and our performances.
We may record your computer’s IP address with your order to help us identify fraudulent credit card use. We may
share this information with the financial institution that issued the credit card with which an order was placed, or
with law enforcement authorities if we determine, or are notified, that the use of the credit card was fraudulent.
The Morris Choral Society may periodically update this policy. We will notify you about significant changes in the
way we treat personal information by placing a prominent notice on our web site.
Purchasers of tickets on the Morris Choral Society web site will receive a confirmation e-mail which may be
presented at the door for any public concert being performed by the Morris Choral Society.
Funds used to purchase tickets on the Morris Choral Society web site will be refunded if the Morris Choral Society
is notified at least five days before the concert for which the ticket was purchased, that the ticket cannot be used.
Once the funds for the ticket purchase have been deposited in the PayPal account of the Morris Choral Society, a
refund check will be issued to the purchaser by the treasurer of the Morris Choral Society within thirty days of such
deposit. Or, at the purchaser’s option, a purchased ticket may be used for any future concert being performed by
the Morris Choral Society.
Should a concert be cancelled for which a ticket has been purchased, the ticket price will be refunded as per the
above Refunds Policy, or at the purchaser’s discretion, a purchased ticket may be used for any future concert
being performed by the Morris Choral Society.
Access to the concert:
The Morris Choral Society is in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, (ADA). Ticket purchasers
with disabilities who are not able to access the concert venue will be refunded the full purchase price of the
ticket, plus reasonable travel expenses.