Today we conclude our series on the history of the MSM. So, what has this long journey taught us? Who are we? What is a hero? We began by talking about the hero theme and how our past has shaped our identity but what does it all boil down to?

All of us, MSM or not, are at times a hero ourselves to someone somewhere. To our kids, our neighbors or a stranger on the street we each have moments of heroism. Whether through a kind word in passing or a generous heart each interaction is a chance at making an impact in the lives of those who’s path we cross. We are all at times a little bit Clark Kent and at other times a little bit Superman. We walk through our lives hiding special talents, inadvertent or not, and then at any given time and place we hop in a phone booth and come out a talented singer, dancer, poet, archer, juggler, comedian, mother, father, or mentor. You never know when the person next to you has some amazing talent to share with the world. Maybe it’s their ability to make people laugh and transcend the sadness in their day. Maybe it’s their ability to know the right thing to say at the right moment to give encouragement and hope. Maybe it’s their ability to create music that gives you a window into their soul and for a time transports you out of the everyday grind and allows you to feel things that you could not otherwise express in words. No matter what that hidden talent we all have the potential to use our talent, our ability, our POWER for good. We can elevate our community and we can give that moment of respite that we all at times desperately need.

We began this story with our heroine Marlys Greinke. She was a farm girl, a student, a wife, and a mother and when she shared her music it empowered others and made a meaningful impact. Music allowed her a platform to promote the inclusion of diverse and different backgrounds and be a catalyst for change in the established norms. She had a powerful influence on the principles that founded the MSM and how we examine the role we play in our community to this day. We heard from her son Ross earlier in the series talk about how he came back because he felt there “needed to be a Greinke” in the MSM. He was right in that we all need that spirit and that courage to love deeply our unique abilities and also know how to spread that love throughout our community through those abilities. Ross bookends a Greinke legacy in the MSM. From a young boy looking on at his mother’s efforts to found this organization to himself taking the mantle of President and continuing the efforts that she started and Lee labored over for decades, Ross has seen nearly 50 years of history pass. That bookend comes to a natural conclusion next Spring as Ross has announced that he will be leaving the MSM and enjoying a much-deserved retirement at the end of this concert season. He leaves the MSM without a Greinke in name but not without the spirit of love, inclusion, and commitment to our community that his mother started almost 50 years ago.

So, who are we?… We are you!! We are your friends, your family, your co-workers, your neighbors. We are the people you see every day in your city and suburbs, in your community, and on your block. We are a collection of people from right here in this community. We are an organic evolution formed out of a set of principles that have helped guide us in the right direction and learn how to use our abilities for good promoting diversity in our organization and inclusion in our community. After next Spring we may no longer carry the name Greinke in our ranks but we carry the spirit with which it infused our organization. It leaves a lasting legacy within the MSM that will outlive any name for as much as any name may influence an idea it takes a community to live up to it. We are known by many names but all share one home, MSM. So as we finish the latest chapter in our history perhaps the best way to end this story is with a line that has itself endured time long after the passing of its creator:

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
– William Shakespeare

As we approach 50 years of sharing our gift and living up to the expectations set before us we intend to be that rose to our community by any name be it stranger, neighbor, mother, father, or friend.

We thank you so much for following our series this summer and are excited as we begin our 47th season. Stay tuned for updates throughout the year on where you can find the MSM and other exciting news.

Thank you to all those who contributed information to make this story possible and to the Greinke family for all the archival information and letting us tell a small part of their family story. Finally, thank you to all of you our loyal fans and followers who have given so much support over the years.

The fifth decade of the MSM began with Dr. Eduardo Garcia-Novelli programming his fourth full season as the MSM’s music director. As of 2019, Dr. García-Novelli has been the music director for nine seasons the longest of any director for the MSM. So how did Dr. Eduardo García-Novelli accomplish seeing the forest through the trees? Simple he had us climb them to new heights.

With the stability of a powerhouse music director and a core of strong, committed singers, the MSM embarked on a new mission: a concert should be an event, a visual and aural experience. Combining the spirit of diversity and following the excellence of music over societal standards would once again open the door to accomplish this auspicious goal of creating an experiential event around each concert.

The 2014-15 season featured a “Mass Mash-up”. Two Masses were presented with each movement (Kyrie, Credo, etc.) by a different composer. In the spring, the MSM presented “Celebrate the Arts”, including a dramatic reading from “The Belle of Amherst” and the UWM dancers interpreting “Dark Night of the Soul”, by Ola Gjeilo. Paintings and sculptures by local artists were displayed. In May 2015, the MSM celebrated the cultures of Milwaukee at the Helene S. Zelazo Center on the UW-Milwaukee campus. A PowerPoint presentation was displayed behind the choir for most pieces, showing old historic photographs of the various ethnic groups in Milwaukee. The Kinsella Academy Of Irish Dance performed, and Stas & Misha entertained during the intermissions.

The 2015-16 season began with the MSM singing the sublime “Lux Aeterna” by Morten Lauridsen. The March 2016 concert was “A Musical Journey of the Americas”, featuring two masses composed in the Americas. The first was Missa “Ego flos campi” by Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla. Padilla was born in Spain but moved to Mexico in 1620 to compose music in the New World. The other, “Mass from Two Worlds”, was composed by contemporary composer Ariel Quintana, an Argentinian. The May 2016 concert, titled “Speak to Us of Love”, featured a poetry reading by Senior Lecturer Raeleen McMillion of the UW-Milwaukee Theatre Department and a PowerPoint presentation of the words to “Dear Sarah”, a letter written by a Civil War soldier to his wife and children, by James Syler. The text of the piece appeared on the screen in time with the choir singing them. The text is from a letter written by a Civil War soldier to his wife and children. A week after writing the letter, the soldier died at the Battle of Bull Run. The song deeply haunting and eerily foretelling of the soldier’s fate didn’t leave a dry eye in the house.

As a return gesture for Dr. Eduardo García-Novelli conducting concerts in Slovenia, the MSM invited Alenka Podpečan from Slovenia to direct a concert in March of 2017 with the MSM and the Carthage College choir in a concert named “Between Two Worlds”. The chosen repertoire featured music by several Slovenian composers and Slovenian folk songs, as well as music by composers from some of Slovenia’s neighboring countries – Italy, Austria, Hungary, Croatia. Exceedingly challenging for its demand to master a number of different languages, “Between Two Worlds” was a crowning moment in cultural inclusion and an incredible experience for the Carthage College Choir and the Master Singers of Milwaukee in working with the young, vibrant, and talented Alenka Podpečan.

At the same time, the MSM was adjusting to changes behind the scenes. When Marlys passed, long time original member Lee Henning stepped up to take over as President for the MSM. A titan in the group, Lee helped keep the gears turning and propelling the organization forward. In addition to being one of the original members, Lee was one of the groups loudest advocates pushing it to grow and for the community to be aware of the amazing music it was creating. His steadfast dedication to community engagement helped continue the principles that Marlys had established and kept her spirit alive in the group. We are happy to say that to this day Lee is still a fixture tenor in the MSM and one of a small handful of original members still performing at the highest levels within the group. Lee, however, recognizing and being a strong proponent for the groups continued growth retired from the role of President to open the way for new people and ideas to help carry the group forward. A special piece was commissioned by the MSM of Gregory Berg, Associate Professor of Music at Carthage College and all-around amazing musician that the group performed in honor of Lee and his many years of commitment to the MSM as President. His lasting imprint on the MSM was mirrored in the moving melody and lyrics of the piece.

Simultaneously, Ross Greinke stepped in to fill the void as President and the group hired Dr. Sally Stanton as Executive Director of the MSM to help develop its organizational skills and create a stronger infrastructure and consistency to keep up with the growth we were experiencing. The MSM also expanded its financial program incorporating more grants and innovative ways of keeping consistent funding throughout the year.

The 2017-18 season began with “Seasons in Song”, including Morten Lauridsen’s “Midwinter Songs”. The rest of the program followed with music from autumn, spring, and summer, including “Summertime” by George Gershwin with Marj Fowler singing the solo. In March 2018, the MSM invited the UWM Concert Chorale and Director Dr. Zachary Durlam to share the stage for the concert “Of War and Peace”. Songs about war, peace, or pieces composed during times of war were presented. The final concert of the season, “At the Movies”, featured music from movies and films, old and new. A delightful PowerPoint presentation with images of the movie posters and scenes from each movie was created by Marlys Greinke’s grandson, Daniel Greinke.

2018-19 included concerts that took the experiential event to a new level. Each was an experience packed with immersive aspects not to be missed. The season began with a musical tribute to the year 1918 celebrating the 100 years that had passed. All of the composers either were born or died in 1918, was composed in 1918, or related to relevant events in 1918. Besides featuring composers Lili Boulanger and Claude Debussy, this concert celebrated the birth of Leonard Bernstein by performing his “Mass”, with guest tenor Cameron Smith and featuring our very own Lee Henning. The concert also included a powerful piece written in recognition of the Armistice signed in 1918 ending the first World War.

The financial stability of the group allowed another once-in-a-lifetime experience, as the Master Singers of Milwaukee were able to perform the Midwest premiere of “Misa a Buenos Aires: Misatango” by Martín Palmeri a unique pairing of the traditional Mass with the vibrant pulse and style of Tango music. Its world-traveling composer Maestro Palmeri was invited to accompany his piece on the piano. Additionally, the world-famous bandoneon player Daniel Binelli was invited to accompany the Misatango. The bandoneon, a concertina-like instrument with buttons instead of a keyboard, is intimately tied to Argentinian tango and Misatango was specifically written to include this beautiful instrument. The trinity of Argentinians, Maestro Martín Palmeri, Master of the bandoneon Daniel Binelli, and our very own Dr. Eduardo García-Novelli provided an amazing cultural immersion and brought to life “Misa a Buenos Aires: Misatango”. A nine-piece string ensemble affiliated with Carthage College including the President’s Quartet rounded out the instrumentalists with performances at All Saints’ Cathedral and the A.F. Siebert Chapel at Carthage College in a performance that was the largest attended performance in the Carthage Fine Arts Series to date. The visual portion of the concert included tango dancers and several standalone tango pieces performed by world-renowned Daniel Binelli.
The season concluded with “A Night at the Oper(ett)a”, a whimsical exploration of the operetta art form with excerpts from “Pirates of Penzance” and “Die Fledermaus”. Five ultra-talented local artists, Laura Schachner, Erin Sura, Shallece Saleen, Nathan Wesselowski, and Drew Brhel joined the MSM performing scenes from the operettas. The MSM choir members cut their teeth in acting playing supporting and lead roles in addition to their singing duties.

The 2019-20 season will continue the strategy of making each concert an event to both see and hear. In May 2020, the MSM will perform J.S. Bach’s “St. John Passion” with guest soloists and a 19-member orchestra. This concert will be sponsored in part by Ross Greinke as a remembrance of the legacy left by his parents, Ralph and Marlys Greinke. Ralph Greinke passed away in November of 2018 having left a lasting impact himself on the group’s success for all his years of support for Marlys and her passion for music. This season will be Ross’ 30th performing with the Master Singers of Milwaukee and will be his last, as he retires from the group and the board to live closer to his siblings in Tampa, Florida.

The impact that the Greinke family has had on the MSM is impossible to overstate. Friday we will revisit the hero theme we started with and write the conclusion of this story for now. We will look back on what brought us here and what is so unique about the MSM.

Thank you as always to our fans and followers for being the best in Milwaukee and don’t forget to take advantage of season tickets now at a special discount price! As we gather to begin crafting the amazing experiential events you have come to expect we look forward to hearing from all of you on here recounting your fondest memories of the MSM.

The year was 2010. Iron Man 2 was the blockbuster superhero movie making over $128 million at the box office. Meanwhile, the MSM was on the search for its own superhero. Enter the Argentinian Iron Man Dr. Eduardo Garcia-Novelli.

Dr. Eduardo García-Novelli, a native of Argentina, is Professor of Music, Director of Choral Activities, and Chair of the Music Department at Carthage College where he conducts the Carthage Choir. He holds undergraduate degrees in music education from the Conservatorio Manuel de Falla, and in choral conducting from the Conservatorio Juan José Castro, both in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

In his homeland, Dr. García-Novelli led for eight years the award-winning, 300-member high school choral program at Belgrano Day School in Buenos Aires, which included music theatre productions, and national, South-American, and European tours. Concurrently, he served as Assistant Director of the prestigious National Young People’s Choir.

Dr. Eduardo Garcia-Novelli moved to the United States to pursue graduate studies in music and graduated with distinction with a Master of Music from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, and completed his Doctorate of Musical Arts degree at the University of Houston, in Houston, Texas. Dr. García-Novelli served as Assistant Director of the Houston Symphony Chorus for five seasons, Director of Choral Activities at Lee College in Baytown, Texas for one year, and served six years as Director of Choral Activities at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas before arriving at Carthage College in Kenosha, WI.

Everywhere he has traveled Dr. Eduardo Garcia-Novelli has racked up a staggering list of distinctions, invites to feature at numerous music festivals and started a number of successful programs and initiatives to his credit benefiting both the institutes he was working for and the community at large. All of that would only touch on the prologue in the story of his illustrious career!

He has traveled the world and has a track record of excellence that follows in his wake. It’s easy to see why we would consider him the Argentinian Iron Man for his tremendous work ethic, ability to constantly be everywhere all the time and enough metal in awards and accolades to build his own suit. Most recently the Carthage Choir has earned top honors at the Spittal International Choir Competition, winning first place in the folk song category and the classical/modern choral works category to rank first place overall. They are the first group in the festival’s history to top both categories. The competition, in existence since 1964, accepts just one choir per country.

Since joining the MSM Dr. Eduardo Garcia-Novelli has continued to provide stability and collaboration by inviting local high school choirs to perform with the Master Singers at Christmas-time. He has a unique talent for pulling the best out of the group and finding new and challenging repertoire. A veritable encyclopedia of music knowledge, Dr. Garcia-Novelli keeps us on the cutting edge of performance and introduces the group to a diverse and rich repertoire from around the world attracting world-famous talent to join us for performances and musicians from around the world to come share their influence.

Whether it be his demand for musical excellence or demand that we bring in cake to share on our birthday the man who many affectionately call GN has allowed us to elevate our art and ourselves with an intensity for the music and a sense of humor about ourselves.

Stay tuned as we enter the latest decade of the MSM and hear more about how a group of Milwaukeeans and one native Argentinian took the MSM to the next level.
Thank you to those who have shared in our series and continue to follow us online. We are excited about the new season and hope to hear more from you. You can reach us at or through our website at