The Tampa Oratorio Singers (TOS) was formed in the fall of 1967 to provide Tampa Bay area music lovers with the opportunity to perform and hear the music of the great choral masters. The group’s first performance was the Christmas portion of Handel’s Messiah, directed by Robert Landers, a former U.S. Air Force band director. Robert Scott took over as music director of the volunteer chorus in 1969. Under his dynamic leadership, TOS presented between eight and ten concerts each season, from September to May, throughout the Bay area, utilizing public recital halls, theaters, churches, temples and community centers for its performances. For many years, the chorus presented its traditional Christmas Messiah in Curtis Hixon Hall in downtown Tampa. These locally televised free concerts drew thousands of choral lovers each year.
In 1985, TOS streamlined its demanding schedule by presenting three or four major concerts a year and moved to the Ferguson Hall at the Performing Arts Center in downtown Tampa. Maestro Scott and the chorus’s longtime principal accompanist, Carolyn Heagey, retired in the summer of 1997 after 29 years of faithful service to TOS. Among the vast and varied repertoire under Maestro Scott, was Honegger’s King David, Lambert’s El Rio Grande, Handel’s Israel in Egypt and Judas Maccabeus, Haydn’s The Creation and The Seasons, Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Requiem, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Poulenc’s Gloria, Puccini’s Messa di Gloria and the Florida premiere of Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Oratorio, as well as pops concerts featuring broadway, opera and popular music themes.
From 1998 to 2002, Dr. Eugene Flemm, directed and continued in the Scott tradition with TOS in performing major choral works including Mendelssohn’s St. Paul, Beethoven’s Mass in C and Brahms’ Requiem.
In the fall of 2002, our current director, Nancy Callahan, assumed leadership of TOS and has taken the group to new heights of singing and performance excellence, with a greater emphasis on the major works of the great masters of choral music. Most performances take place in local churches. Some works from the chorus’ repertoire are Rheinberger’s Star of Bethlehem, Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna, Dvorak’s Stabat Mater and Te Deum, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, Durufle’s Requiem, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Mozart’s Requiem and Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass.