Throughout the Years
From the beginning, NOC has promoted music education among the students of our schools and colleges by inviting them to participate in our programs, and giving scholarships to help them with their music education.
Today, outreach to students has led the NOC to become the only multi-generational organization of its type in Lee and Collier counties.
Founded in 1993 by Ralph Stewart
Founder Ralph Stewart
Ralph Stewart was not new to starting musical groups from scratch. He formed his first civic chorus in Northern Ontario when he was seventeen. Later his experience included choirs and orchestras in Canada’s capitol, where he established a 100-voice chorus for the nation’s centennial, and in the United States.
In addition to his musical pursuits Mr. Stewart was a published author, politician and professional diplomat. He was elected to Canada’s Parliament where he served for eleven years. He chaired a committee at the NATO Assembly, and was Canada’s Consul General to the Southeastern U.S. and Puerto Rico.
After leaving his ambassadorial post he became a permanent resident of the U.S. and settled in Naples where he served for twelve years as Director of Music at St. Leo Catholic Church in Bonita Springs.
2004 to 2008 Richard Holmberg
In 2004, when Ralph became ill, he asked Richard T. Holmberg to step in as Musical Director of the Naples Orchestra and Chorus.
Richard arrived at a time of crisis but managed to maintain the vitality of the organization. The orchestra and chorus grew in numbers and matured in quality. But no one was surprised because Richard Holmberg was an unusual musician.
He had been director of music for the School Town of Munster in Munster, Indiana, for 35 years, during which time he built the music department into one of the most successful music programs in the state. He was also in charge of the vocal music department, which included as many as three hundred students participating in choirs and select vocal ensembles.
Richard continued his personal dedication through 2007.
2008 to 2014 – Robert Dale Herrema
In 2008 Robert Dale Herrema was appointed Musical Director. He has built on the foundations laid down by Mr. Stewart and Mr. Holmberg and the NOC has continued to grow and develop.
During his leadership, the Chorus and Orchestra performed a World Premier composition, which was commissioned to celebrate NOC’s 20th Anniversary Season.