Arthur Wenk


As a young musicology teacher at the University of Pittsburgh in 1974, Arthur Wenk decided to start a chorus. This was not an unprecedented event in his life—he had formed a small group in Boston before coming to Pittsburgh. The group was perhaps successful beyond his wildest dreams, at least musically. He also quickly discovered that running a chorus involves a whole lot more than just selecting singers, repertoire, and rehearsal/concert dates. As he noted in a diary entry as he wrote the group’s obituary: "With this program I bring my choral conducting career to a close.  It has been my experience that you can’t be a good choral conductor and be good at very much else.  During the past year the fragile equilibrium among performance, scholarship and teaching has been strained, if not lost altogether, by the eleven concerts (not counting repeat performances) in which I took part.  There is a certain satisfaction in knowing that I can go into any city in the country, start a small chorus, put on interesting concerts, and lose six hundred dollars."  (Art’s diary can be found by following the link on the "About Us" page. It is full of humor, pathos, and interesting information. What more can you ask?) As it turns out, not only did the Camerata not die in 1977, Dr. Wenk has gone on to begin other choruses in other cities after leaving Pittsburgh. His most recent venture is Quodlibet, a 16-voice group in Toronto. Furthermore, he has morphed into a performing pianist and organist and runs the music program at Jubilee United Church in Toronto. He is also a published author of musicological monographs, various journal articles, and a series of murder mystery novels. His detective is organist Axel Crotchet, and here is a bit about Axel, from Dr. Wenk's website: "Axel Crochet just wants to pursue his scholarly career, writing about Claude Debussy and hoping to get tenure.  But he keeps getting drawn into situations that turn into investigations and, well, what’s a musicologist going to do?" But there’s more. Dr. Wenk is also a psychotherapist with a practice in counseling. I think he’s also working on curing cancer and world peace, but I’m not positive about that. What is clear is that Dr. Wenk is an amazingly gifted man with a great diversity of interests. Thankfully, his never-fading interest in choral music resulted in a group which, 40 years later, is still thriving! UPDATE: Dr. Wenk has just informed me that Scarecrow Press has accepted for publication in 2014 his book, "Camerata: A Guide to Forming and Directing Small Choruses." Very cool!