John Vorrasi, 1948-2015

Wed Feb 25, 2015 at 3:20 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

John Vorrasi
John Vorrasi

John Vorrasi, singer, cofounder, artistic director and longtime guiding light of the William Ferris Chorale, died Monday afternoon after a three-year battle with leukemia.

Vorrasi, 66, launched the William Ferris Chorale with his longtime partner Bill Ferris in 1971, and continued to guide the chorus after Ferris’s sudden death in 2000.

“It is with profound sadness that we must announce the passing of our Artistic Director and co-founder, John Vorrasi, who, with inspired vision and impassioned conviction guided the William Ferris Chorale through our 43 seasons,” said music director Paul French in a released statement.

“For all who knew John, he was a consummately talented artist whose thrilling tenor voice colored the Chorale’s sound for decades. An equally deft creative arts administrator, John was always willing to roll up his sleeves to bring concerts to the stage, so that the music he loved and believed in would continue to find its way out into the world. The Chicago arts scene was surely enriched by his presence and participation.

“John was a man of culture and intelligence, and as a friend he was as loyal as they come; his wit, charm, and wicked sense of humor made you glad to know him. I will miss him terribly and in their own ways, everyone who knew John, Bill, and the work of their Chorale will feel his absence.”

A funeral Mass will be held at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church at 11 a.m. Thursday, February 26.

Ironically, this weekend’s previously scheduled William Ferris Chorale program is offering requiem masses by two 20th-century Italian composers: Ildebrando Pizzetti’s Messa di Requiem and Antonio Somma’s Missa Pro Defunctis. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Mount Carmel Church and 3 p.m. Sunday at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in La Grange.

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