Who We Are
For well over a century, choral music, along with the local symphony orchestra, has been part of the Walla Walla Valley arts experience. However, let’s take a backward look to discover where community choral singing began in Walla Walla.
In 1905 one would not expect to find arts flourishing in Walla Walla; however, sixty singers, dubbing themselves the Walla Walla Choral Union sang two concerts for their first annual music festival.
A descendant of the Choral Union was the Walla Walla Symphony Chorale, formed in 1980. The Chorale performed Christmas concerts with the Walla Walla Symphony Orchestra as well as two or three concerts with a small orchestra or keyboard accompaniment for several years. Then in 1986, Dr. Robert Bode arrived to teach at Whitman College; eventually developing the former Symphony Chorale into a separate organization renamed the Walla Walla Choral Society.
The Choral Society, as a vital member of the vibrant local arts culture, has provided a special opportunity for community members, children’s choirs, and other arts organizations to perform with the Choral Society.
In their new performance venue, The Gesa Power House Theatre, The Choral Society is proud to celebrate 114 years of the gift of song to the Walla Walla Valley.
G. LOUIS HEMENWAY
At four-years old G. Louis Hemenway’s first musical question to his mother was, “when do I get to play piano in church?” Raised in the small town of Pilot Rock in Eastern Oregon, Hemenway’s early interest grew to encompass a wide variety of musical styles. As a pre-teen, he was captured by the sounds of André Crouch and the Disciples, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Chicago, and The Temptations. It was while attending Warner Pacific College in arts-rich Portland, Oregon that G. saw his abilities expand. With a passion for excellence and a love for many styles of music, countless doors have been opened to him.
G. Louis’ diverse abilities have afforded him plentiful opportunities working in the fields of soundtrack, production, direction, composition, arrangement, teaching, work shopping and live performance work. Hemenway has composed and arranged numerous vocal, choral and instrumental pieces in every style including classical, film score, gospel, jazz, pop and rock. His work has appeared in Nike & Avia videos and events, as well as at the World Olympics. His live performance work has taken him throughout the United States, Europe, the South Pacific, and Asia.
Amongst his many musical abilities, choral work has become one of his greatest musical strengths. As the Choir Director for the Oregon Symphony’s Northwest Community Gospel Chorus for 19 years, he has enjoyed working with the Grammy-nominated Oregon Symphony. Hemenway also serves as the Artistic Director for the Walla Walla Choral Society and the Director of Worship at Walla Walla Presbyterian Church. He also enjoys sharing his talent and expertise as a Studio Music Instructor of Jazz Piano at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington.
His other credits include work with The Oregon Symphony, The Heritage Singers, Pink Martini, Will Vinton Studios, George Fox University and more. His greatest joy has been found in the people that he has worked with. They include Dr. Charles Floyd, Mick Gillette and Lenny Pickett (Tower of Power), Daniel Cox, Tim Ellis, Dr. Dennis Piles and many others.
The joy of his life, his wife, Clairece, and three daughters, Sarah, Olivia and Amelia, are all accomplished artists in their own right.