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Our History


Seaway Chorale and Orchestra (SCO), a non-profit organization, was founded in 1976 by David M. Ward, music director, with the assistance of the Kiwanis Club of Trenton. Mr. Ward served as music director and perpetuating influence until his death in 1994. 


In 1995, Charles Heard assumed the position of director and carried the organization through six years of successful performances. He retired following the gala 25th anniversary concert in spring of 2001. Local musician Aaron Kaleniecki guided the group until Spring 2007 followed by Mike Begian from 2007 to 2010.

On September 22, 2000, SCO, and, posthumously, its founder, David Ward, were honored to receive the Downriver Council for the Arts’ Salute to Excellence award. 


In 2004, the Chorale moved its concerts to Flat Rock High School, where our orchestra uses an orchestra pit.


In 2010, the baton was passed to Dr. Gerald Custer. We were excited to have this Grammy-winning composer and arranger at the helm. 


Since Fall 2014, the chorale has been under the direction of Anthony Lai, a young man with many musical talents:  playing, singing, composing, and directing in several venues around the Detroit and Downriver areas.


Primary objectives have always been to present quality entertainment for the Downriver community while providing performance opportunity for talented musicians. Vocalists are selected through auditions. Hired instrumentalists are selected and assembled by the director. For a number of years, the group also included a children’s and teen's choir. Several members of those groups now sing in the adult chorale. In 2015 the children's choir, Voices of the Young, resumed under the direction of Anthony Lai.


In addition to the December and May concerts of each season, outreach activity has included sacred choral masterpiece concerts in metropolitan Detroit churches; performing for the Republican National Convention in Detroit (1980); appearances at the Festival of Trees at Cobo Hall and Downriver Sings in Allen Park; singing the Canadian and American national anthems at Tiger Stadium and Comerica Park; taking part in the dedication of the 33rd District Court; offering condolence through music during the Hospice Remembrance Services at Southland Mall; traveling to Trenton, Ontario to perform at international patriotic ceremonies, appearing on CBS, Channel 62’s holiday special and at Fox Theatre’s Christmas show. The Chorale has appeared with Southern Great Lakes Symphony Orchestra and participated in Downriver Remembers, a tribute to the 9/11 victims, at Memorial Park in September 2002. Seaway ensembles have sung for Red Cross and Kiwanis gatherings. Such a wide variety of venues is evidence of the versatility and talent of the directors and singers.

Seaway Timeline


Founded by

David Ward


1976 to 1994

Director David Ward


1995 to 2001

Director Charles Heard


25th Anniversary


2001 to 2007

Director Aaron Kaleniecki


2007 to 2010

Director Mike Begian


2010 to 2014 

Director Gerald Custer


2014 to present

Director Anthony Lai

40th Anniversary


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