Key Chorale Inc
PO Box 20613
Sarasota FL 34276-3613
Key Chorale is dedicated to performing and promoting choral music of the highest quality. 
CEO/Executive Director M. Catherine Vernon
Board Chair A. Leslie (Lee) Holden
Board Chair Affiliation Principal of ARC Group
General Info
Tax Exempt Status Public Supported Charity
Incorporation Year 1987
Awarded competitive grant from Community Foundation in the last 5 years? Yes
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Yes Feb 2018
State Registration Yes 0
Financial Summary
IRS Letter of Determination
IRS Determination LetterView
Other Documents
Our VisionView
Impact Statement

Under the direction of Joseph Caulkins, Key Chorale has become a producer of collaborative musical events that embrace and support our community.   Collaborating with other arts organizations has further engaged our audiences as well as our community.  Let’s see how.

  • “Tomorrow’s Voices Today 2016,” was a highly attended choral festival held at Riverview Performing Arts Center with ensembles from Booker, Sarasota and Riverview high schools providing an opportunity for students to work with Maestro Joseph Caulkins and sing with and be mentored by Key Chorale singers. “Tomorrow’s Voices Today 2017” will be held at Venice Performing Arts Center on May 5 with North Port, Pine View and Venice High Schools participating.
  • “The Sarasota Choral Festival" in October, 2016 was again successful with 150 singers participating in our third season. The repertoire included Alexander’s Feast by Handel plus opportunities for participants to attend a variety of programs related to personal growth as singers and musicians culminating in the concert. Registration is open to all singers high school age and older without an audition.
  • All performances at First United Methodist Church were sold-out last season providing continuity of location for Key Chorale and increased ticket sales. Same venue for 2016-2017.
  • Key Chorale performed to sold-out audiences for Cirque des Voix® last season and we will collaborate with Circus Sarasota again in March 2017 at Nathan Benderson Park for 3 performances plus a world premiere of a work by composer Ola Gjeilo written for Dolly Jacobs.
  • Key Chorale is invited to perform Cirque des Voix® in collaboration with CAC at the 2017 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, DC next July.
  • Key Chorale is excited to present its "Season of Peak Performances" for the 2016-2017 season honoring the tenth anniversary year of our maestro, Joseph Caulkins.
Needs Statement
1. Funding to create the original music suite by composer Ola Gjeilo to accompany NEA Fellow, world-class aerialist and co-founder of The Circus Arts Conservatory, Dolly Jacobs, to be premiered at Cirque des Voix in March 2017. Key Chorale and The CAC will also perform this piece in Washington DC in July as invited guests at the 2017 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. The commission cost is $15,000.
2. Software for an enhanced Donor Management System including staff education and implementation at $2,500; choral risers, music stands and lights (and storage) at an estimated cost of $26,000; desks, chairs, computers, copier, printer at an estimated cost of $16,000
3. Help Key Chorale fund the orchestra and soloists for its final masterworks concert of the 2016-2017 season, Mozart’s Great Mass in C Minor, featuring soprano soloist Mary Wilson and musicians from the Sarasota Orchestra at a cost of $18,000.
4. Honorarium funding for high school choirs collaborating in the Tomorrow’s Voices Today concert  - North Port, Venice and Pine View at $3,000.
5. Funding to support recording and production of a CD to include the aforementioned Ola Gjeilo commission as well as other previously commissioned works, to be sold at Key Chorale's performances in Washington DC, at a cost of $10,000.
Background Statement

Key Chorale’s 2016-2017 Season is entitled, Peak Performances, Celebrating Artistic Director/Maestro Joseph Caulkins' 10th Anniversary. The Chorale has become a producer of high quality collaborative musical events that support and embrace the talents of our community. Located in Sarasota, the chorale was founded in 1985 by Ann Stephenson-Moe and Don B. Ryno. It has an esteemed history of performing such monumental scores as Beethoven’s "Ninth Symphony" and Haydn’s "Creation.” For 21 years, under the original artistic director, Daniel Moe, Key Chorale established a standard of choral excellence that has been continued and expanded by Artistic Director and Conductor, Joseph Caulkins.

The Chorale has over 100 auditioned voices with a professional base of section leaders and core singers. Collaborating organizations include the Sarasota Opera, Sarasota Ballet, Circus Sarasota, and Sybarite 5 performing celebrated works in the community. “Annelies” by James Whitbourne and “Lux Aeterna” by Morten Lauridsen are representative of these contemporary choral performances.

“Tomorrow’s Voices Today” was introduced in 2013 and is a mentoring program for high school students culminating in an ensemble performance of students from three local high schools and Key Chorale which showcases each school and the best of their repertoire. Complementing this effort, the Sarasota Choral Festival was launched inviting amateur choral singers to participate with the chorale under the direction of Joseph Caulkins in a unique week-long festival resulting in the performance of a major work. Maestro Caulkins has also initiated “Off-Key Chorale” that develops the singing skills of individuals with Parkinson’s disease

Key Chorale partnered with Circus Sarasota in 2011 to create Cirque des Voix® – an unprecedented blending of choral and orchestral music with circus arts. Cirque des Voix® was performed to sold-out audiences under the “Big Top” in March, 2015. Key Chorale commissioned a new work by wunderkind Ola Gjeilo which was performed in April, 2014, “The Lake Isle -Part II”. In the same year, world renowned soprano Mary Wilson made her first Sarasota appearance with the Chorale in “Handel and Haydn Rediscovered”.

Key Chorale has several recordings that reflect the diversity of its repertoire-the most recent being “Invocations” featuring the works of Eric Whitacre, Bonia Shur, Dale Warland and Daniel Moe. The Chorale has performed overseas as well in 2001, 2009 and 2012. 




Areas Served
Areas Served
FL- Sarasota
FL- Manatee
Areas Served Comments
Key Chorale primarily serves Sarasota and Manatee counties in Florida. The Chorale has also performed in St. Petersburg and Miami, Florida and in Europe.
Service Categories
Primary Org Type Arts,Culture & Humanities
Secondary Org Type Mutual & Membership Benefit
Tertiary Org Type
Statement from the Board Chair/Board President

As Dolly Jacobs of the Circus Arts Conservatory and 2015 recipient of the National Endowment of the Arts award was gliding towards the peak of the giant tent accompanied by the 110 Key Chorale Symphonic Singers and the Cirque Orchestra, performing Gabriel’s Oboe, the magic of the music swooned the audience of 1500.

Just one month prior, the same singers and many of the same orchestra members were performing Bach and Beethoven Great Choral Masterworks in the beautiful surroundings and acoustically perfect First Church downtown.

The power of 110 auditioned and highly-rehearsed human voices elicits emotions unlike any other musical form. Sarasota’s Symphonic Chorus is among the highest art forms in Sarasota’s valued and appreciated arts community, demonstrating throughout the season why it is such a peak performer.


Key Chorale celebrated its 31st season this past year with unique collaborations dedicated to the development of youth, challenged adults, and great music. These included, among others:

  • Invitation by Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage to participate in the Circus Arts program at the 2017 Smithsonian Folklife Festival., taking place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.,
  • SRO performances for Bach & Beethoven, Monteverdi, Gabrieli, Praetorius, Schütz and Handel accompanied by the Key Chorale Orchestra.
  • Largest audience to date for Tomorrow’s Voices Today, a collaboration with Booker, Riverview, and Sarasota High Schools on the Riverview campus.
  • First public performance of the Off-Key Chorale, a collaboration with the Neuro-Challenge Foundation.
  • New administrative team in place to support the great artistic achievements.


  • Securing sources to fund the Ola Gjeilo commission for Dolly Jacobs performance at Smithsonian Center in Washington, DC.
  • Maintaining the extremely high productivity and low cost structure of our part-time contractors and volunteers.
  • Attracting donors desiring the high visibility of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, DC.
  • Improving visibility in SW Florida of being the premier symphonic chorus with all its unique artistic qualities.


Statement from the CEO/Executive Director

   Key Chorale is excited to celebrate ten years under the direction of Artistic Director Joseph Caulkins.  Under his creative leadership, Key Chorale has become a producer of high quality collaborative musical events that support and embrace the talents of our community.  I am honored to serve as the Executive Director, and to sing in the alto section and Chamber Chorus.  As Sarasota’s only Symphonic Chorus, Key Chorale fills a music niche no other local music performance group can accomplish due to its composition of experienced and talented volunteer vocalists combined with professional section leaders and core singers. 

   We are adept at creating sounds that “wow” our audiences, always delivering the strong vocal quality for which we are known. This season celebrates a “Season of Peak Performances,” and continues our tradition of producing professional quality musical performances with nationally-recognized soloists and professional orchestra. Our season begins with the Third Annual Sarasota Choral Festival, an open invitation to all singers and choirs to join us in a festival chorus performance, and ends with Tomorrow’s Voices Today, our fourth annual collaboration with the Sarasota County Public Schools in a combined student-Key Chorale performance choir. Our Downtown Master Series of concerts in October, November and February will showcase Key Chorale’s beautiful and creative ability to produce great choral masterworks by Handel, Charpentier and Mozart. In March we will be back at Nathan Benderson Park for Cirque des Voix®, our unique collaboration with Circus Sarasota with 3 performances and a world premiere of a piece commissioned by Key Chorale from Ola Gjeilo in honor of Dolly Jacobs and our invitation to perform at the 2017 Smithsonian Folklife Festival with the Circus Arts Conservatory.

   We continue our community outreach with the “Off-Key Chorale”, a choral group comprised of Parkinson’s patients and Key Chorale singers. This partnership with the Artists Series Concerts and Neuro Challenge Foundation is one of the most important forms of outreach we do, involving numerous hours of volunteer time by our Conductor Joseph Caulkins and many of our singers.

   Our ticket prices remain well-below production cost so that our exceptional music is accessible to a broader audience demographic. We are grateful for the support of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County and many donors whose generous gifts enable Key Chorale to deliver new and unique musical performances for our audiences.


Key Chorale's 2016-2017 season budget is constructed as an overall amount ($397,619) rather than allocating both direct and indirect costs per event.

  • Key Chorale opens the season with the Sarasota Choral Festival concert, Alexander’s Feast by Handel. The Sarasota Choral Festival is open to singers of all abilities with rehearsals starting on October 25th culminating with the concert on October 29th. 
  • Celebrate the season with French Baroque music by Marc-Antoine Charpentier and other French carols on November 27th and welcome the return of Mary Wilson for Mozart's Great Mass in C Minor on February 11th.
  • Collaboration with Circus Sarasota continues in March 2017 at Nathan Benderson Park with the world premiere of a musical suite by composer Ola Gjeilo for Dolly Jacobs. This work is commissioned by Key Chorale and will also be performed in Washington, DC as part of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. 
  • "Tomorrow's Voices Today" with Sarasota County Schools will be on May 5th at the Venice PAC.
Budget $397,619
Category Arts, Culture & Humanities, General/Other Musical Performances
Program Linked to Organizational Strategy Yes
Population Served Adults Families Children and Youth (0 - 19 years)
Short Term Success
  • In the short term, our 2015-2016 Season, “More than Music!” was our 31st Season. Collaboration with the Sarasota County Schools on "Tomorrow's Voices Today" produced a concert at the Riverview Performing Arts Center featuring Booker, Sarasota and Riverview high school choirs with Key Chorale. We had the highest attendance to date for this program in its third year.
  • The Sarasota Choral Festival in October had 170 singers participate at First Church including the full Chorale and the world premiere of  "Prayer of St. Francis" composed by Joseph Waldron, Key Chorale singer and music librarian. 
  • Cirque des Voix® was sold out for performances at Nathan Benderson Park in collaboration with Circus Sarasota and the Cirque Orchestra.
  • November 29th was the Holiday Concert with choir and strings performing music from the Renaissance to early Baroque and February 13, 2016 was the Bach & Beethoven Masterworks concert with soloistic virtuosity and orchestral brilliance both of which were sold-out.
Long Term Success The season concerts are clearly linked to Key Chorale’s new philosophy: That of diverse collaborations to initiate new multi-dimensional programs and concerts.  Our repertoire is diverse and we are committed to an educational outreach and investing in our youth to plant the seeds for a lifelong love of music. We are delighted to be at First Church for our major concerts. Key Chorale's visibility and recognition have seen great increases with this acustically perfect venue in the heart of downtown. We have increased our online ticket sales each year for the last three seasons and are performing to sold-out audiences this season. Each collaboration and concert is assessed based on the goals set for the year.
Program Success Monitoring

In the long term, we expect ticket sales to increase as we upgrade our ticketing system and continue to monitor electronic data to better target our audience.

We will continue our collaborations, particularly with Circus Arts Conservatory and Sarasota Young Voices. Key Chorale's invitation to perform in collaboration with CAC at the 2017 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, DC next July is a great honor.
Programming for "Tomorrow's Voices Today" with Sarasota County Schools will continue to create a positive impact on the high school students per their choir directors and testimonials. Key Chorale will seek more educational opportunities with other institutions of learning, thus increasing our reach and influence in Southwest Florida and elsewhere.
This ambitious season programing will be monitored by ticket sales, participant feedback, donor participation, audience surveys and continued appreciation from local media.
Program Success Examples
  • “Sarasota Choral Festival”, was held October 10, 2015 for a second year with 60 singers from the community participating. The Festival is open to all singers high school age and older and 170 voices participated in "New Voices in Choral Music" at First United Methodist Church. 
  • Key Chorale's Artistic Director and several singers have completed another year in collaboration with Neuro Challenge Foundation creating the "Off-Key Chorale". This program provides vocal training and socialization for Parkinson's Disease patients and their care givers. The "Off-Key Chorale" is now performing with Key Chorale at least once per season.
  • Key Chorale is proud to have mentored high school members that have gone to colleges with great appreciation for the confidence building and performance skills learned while singing with Key Chorale.
  • We performed for standing room only crowds in our 2015-2016 Season at First Church.
CEO/Executive Director
CEO/Executive Director M. Catherine Vernon
CEO Term Start Feb 2015
CEO/Executive Director Email

In addition to serving as Executive Director of Key Chorale and singing in this symphonic choir as an Alto I, Catherine Vernon is an international corporate attorney providing consulting and legal services to nonprofits and humanitarian organizations.  She retired in 2013 as Vice President, Secretary, and General Counsel of the Formica and Laminex Group of companies, owned by New Zealand-based Fletcher Building Limited, the largest building products company in Australasia [FBU.NZ & FBU.AX].  

Ms. Vernon is active in the American Bar Association Section of International Law and was awarded the ABA International Law Section’s Outstanding International Corporate Counsel award in 2012. She is Vice Chair of the Section’s International Human Rights Committee, with responsibility as co-chair of its Subcommittee on Human Trafficking. In December 2013, she served as an ABA delegate to the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland.  Ms. Vernon has undergraduate degrees in both economics and international studies from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and attended the Miami University Dolibois European Center in Luxembourg.  Her law degree was awarded with honors by Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. 

Catherine has served on many nonprofit boards, including the Cincinnati Ballet, Girls Scouts of the Western Reserve, Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Summit & Medina Counties, and the Cleveland & Akron Councils on World Affairs.  She currently participates in the Engage Sarasota program of the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, and serves on the fundraising committee of Selah Freedom.

She presently is completing graduate studies in the University of Florida’s Graduate Certificate Program in Nonprofit Leadership.  Ms. Vernon moved from Cincinnati, Ohio to Sarasota in May 2014 with her husband, David, a retired bank CEO.  She has lived, worked or traveled in over 35 countries.


Former CEOs/Executive Directors
Richard Storm 1996 - Feb 2015
Senior Staff
Donna De Poalo External Relations Manager
Kay Semrod Grants Manager
Madison Spahn Administrative Coordinator
Joe Waldron Artistic Administrator
Staff & Volunteer Statistics
Full Time Staff 0
Part Time Staff 17
Staff Retention Rate % N/A
Professional Development No
Contractors 17
Volunteers 109
Management Reports to Board Yes
CEO/Executive Director Formal Evaluation Yes
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Non-Management Formal Evaluation N/A

 Key Chorale continues to collaborate with other local organizations with these recent examples:

  • “Lux Aeterna”- November 21-22, 2014 Key Chorale collaborated with the Sarasota Ballet and Orchestra.
  • “Tomorrow’s Voices Today” – The fourth year of collaboration with Sarasota County Schools showcasing high school choirs that also perform with and are mentored by Key Chorale under the direction of Joseph Caulkins will take place at the Venice PAC on May 5, 2017.
  • “Off- Key Chorale” – Key Chorale is collaborating with The Artists Series and the Neuro Challenge Foundation for a fourth year working with Parkinson patients and their care givers to form a chorus that also performs with Key Chorale members.
  • Cirque des Voix® - We have celebrated our sixth year of collaboration with Circus Sarasota, circus performers and the Cirque Orchestra comprised of Sarasota Orchestra musicians for a unique show each season. Performances were sold out in March, 2016.
  •  Embracing Our Differences – April 15, 2013 at The Players Theatre, Key Chorale partnered with Embracing Our Differences and The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee for a special performance of “Annelies” for middle school students.
  •  The Sybarite5—April 22, 2012 at the Unitarian-Universalist Church in “Mozart Meets Radiohead”



External Assessments and Accreditations
Awards & Recognition
85th Anniversary Recognition for Outstanding Music Education & PerformanceSarasota Music Club2015
Risk Management Provisions
Commercial General Liability
Government Licenses
Organization Licensed by the Government No
Fundraising Plan Yes
Communication Plan No
Strategic Plan No
Strategic Plan Years 4
Strategic Plan Adopted Oct 2011
Management Succession Plan No
Continuity of Operations Plan No
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy No
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy No
Policies and Procedures No
Board Chair
Board Chair A. Leslie (Lee) Holden
Company Affiliation Principal of ARC Group
Board Term July 2015 to June 2018
Board Chair Email
Board Members
Board Members
Joseph Caulkins Key Chorale
Aida B. Coleman Community Volunteer
Claire Collins Retired
Glenn Darling Hall Architects, Inc.
Judy Egan Community Volunteer
A. Leslie (Lee) Holden Principal of Lee Results
Richard Lilley Community Volunteer
Matthew B. Mayper Fergeson, Skipper, Shaw, Keyser, Baron & Tirabassi, P.A.
Nancy Morris Alliance Insurance
Joel L. Morrison Community Volunteer
Lorraine Murphy Concert Artist
Nancy Yost Olson Accompanist
Judith Plerhoples Community Volunteer
Kay Semrod Community Volunteer
M. Catherine Vernon Key Chorale
Constituency Includes Client Representation No
Board Ethnicity
African American/Black 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 14
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Board Gender
Male 6
Female 9
Unspecified 0
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 3
Board Orientation Yes
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 10
Board Meeting Attendance % 82
Board Self-Evaluation Yes
Written Board Selection Criteria No
Board Conflict of Interest Policy Yes
% of Board Making Monetary Contributions 100
% of Board Making In-Kind Contributions 30
Standing Committees
Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
Board Governance
Fiscal Year Projections
Fiscal Year Start Month July
Fiscal Year Start Day 01
Fiscal Year Begins 2016
Fiscal Year End Month June
Fiscal Year End Day 30
Fiscal Year Ends 2017
Projected Revenue $397,619.00
Projected Expenses $397,619.00
Organization has Endowment Yes
Endowment Value $35,671.00
Capital Campaign
Currently In a Capital Campaign No
Campaign Purpose
Campaign Goal
Campaign Dates 0 to 0
Amount Raised To Date 0 as of 0
Historical Financial Review
Revenue SourcesHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available) and revenue sources may not sum to total based on reconciliation differences. Revenue from foundations and corporations may include individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201620152014
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
Government Contributions$21,227$17,532$17,379
Individual Contributions$125,172$73,441$119,009
Investment Income, Net of Losses$2,534$2,576$2,402
Membership Dues$0$0$0
Special Events$8,441$19,064$12,490
Revenue In-Kind$0$0$0
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201620152014
Program Expense$218,913$192,562$198,451
Administration Expense$65,486$56,247$46,046
Fundraising Expense$7,909$7,396$4,963
Payments to Affiliates$0$0$0
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.030.951.06
Program Expense/Total Expenses75%75%80%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue5%7%3%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201620152014
Total Assets$75,897$81,106$72,977
Current Assets$75,897$45,920$37,383
Long-Term Liabilities$0$0$0
Current Liabilities$15,150$26,772$1,867
Total Net Assets$60,747$54,334$71,110
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201620152014
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountContributions, gifts, grants $125,172Ticket & Music Sales $81,095Contributions, gifts, grants $119,009
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountTicket & Music Sales $95,552Contributions, gifts, grants $73,441Ticket & Music Sales $62,135
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountOther $32,585Other Program Service Revenue $29,689Other Program Service Revenue $38,137
CEO/Executive Director Compensation $0 - $50,000
Tax Credits No
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities5.011.7220.02
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Financials Comments
Financial Comments by Organization
FYE Our membership revenue is as follows:
Financial Comments by Foundation Financial information taken from Federal tax returns.  Foundations and corporations are included with individual contributions as they are not separated in the Federal 990s or financial compilations.
Nonprofit Key Chorale Inc
Address PO Box 20613
Sarasota, FL 34276 3613
Phone 941 921-4845