Chorus History

Merrie Dells inaugural members pose with the chorus' Sweet Adelines charter.

Mary-Dels inaugural members and director Bob Wallace receive their Sweet Adelines charter in 1975. Current member Beth Rupert is second from the right.

Beginning with a group of 20 women performing locally in 1973, the Upper Chesapeake Chorus has evolved into an international competitor and has expanded its performing opportunities to include the wider Baltimore area, neighboring states, the international stage, and even The East Room of The White House.


The chorus forms in 1973 when a Sweet Adeline from New England moves to northern Maryland and finds no women’s Barbershop organization in the area. To remedy this, she proposes a Sweet Adeline chorus be founded to serve the Maryland area of Harford and Cecil counties and southern Delaware. Advertisements are placed in local newspapers asking for “women who like to sing”. The first two years are a struggle to build and retain membership.


In September of 1975, Sweet Adelines International grants a charter to the fledgling chorus under the name of “The Mary-Dels” to reflect membership from Maryland and Delaware. For a few years the name becomes “The Merrie-Dells” until finally the name “Upper Chesapeake Chorus” is adopted. The inaugural director is a music teacher and professional musician, Bob Wallace.


In 1980, Beth Rupert, a charter and current member of the chorus, becomes the second director. In addition to a strong musical background, Beth contributes a vision for developing the chorus and increasing its membership.


In 1987, Cydney Wentsel comes from the Elkridge chorus to accept the position as third director of the Upper Chesapeake Chorus. Cyd brings expertise gleaned from many years participating in award-winning choruses and quartets as well as skills as a music arranger. In a very short time, the chorus begins to win regional awards: most-improved chorus twice, once by 110 points; placement in the top 3 small and then mid-sized chorus categories; and eventually, consistent placement among the top five choruses in the region overall.


In 2007, Cyd retires from directing in order to pursue other roles within the Sweet Adelines International organization. At this time, Rick Taylor, a long time men’s Barbershop performer, coach, and men's chorus director, assumes the director’s position for Upper Chesapeake Chorus.


Under Rick Taylor's training and direction, the chorus' scores skyrocket in 2010. The score of 619 points qualifies Rick Taylor as SAI Master Director and the chorus for a Harmony Classic appearance in 2011.


Upper Chesapeake Chorus wins its first Regional Chorus Championship medal with a score of 643 points! Later that year the chorus earns 4th place in SAI Harmony Classic mid-sized division in Houston, Texas.


UCC competes for the first time on the SAI international stage in Denver, Colorado.


UCC repeats as Region 19 Chorus Champions!


UCC competes as the home town chorus in international competition in Baltimore, Maryland.


The chorus celebrates the 40th anniversary of its charter with Sweet Adelines International. At regional competition, UCC receives second-place mid-sized chorus and third place overall.


This is a year of unexpected change. Our director, Rick Taylor, who led us to the international stage resigns his directorship of women's and men's choruses to accept a coveted position within the men’s international barbershop organization. As a result, UCC members elect not to compete at 2016 regional contest. 
Instead, the chorus focuses on a director search. By remarkable coincidence, a former Sweet Adeline director with a strong music education and coaching background as well as experience on the international stage is looking to direct again after moving from Houston to Virginia. The meeting between director and chorus culminates in the signing of Vickie Dennis.
Vickie hits the ground running, spearheading an effort to formalize a set of guiding chorus values and mission statement. She challenges her new chorus to learn new music and successfully present UCC's first annual Christmas show.