Key Chorale Inc
1233C S. Tamiami Trail
Sarasota FL 34239
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 May 2018
Financial Summary
Note: Revenue includes the value of in-kind contributions/donations
IRS Letter of Determination
IRS Determination LetterView
Other Documents
Our VisionView
Impact Statement

As Sarasota’s original and only Symphonic Chorus, Key Chorale fills a music niche no other local music performance group can accomplish. Together with the full sound of its Key Chorale Orchestra, performances do not disappoint and typically result in standing ovations and favorable press reviews, due to its composition of experienced and talented volunteer vocalists combined with 15-20 professional soloists, section leaders and core singers. For those who appreciate symphonic and classical music, Key Chorale and the Key Chorale Orchestra deliver the quality and variety of masterwork choral performances that have been compared to the high quality of music performance groups found in major metropolitan areas like New York and Los Angeles. Concert-goer surveys emailed to attendees post-concert confirm that attendees rate Key Chorale’s performance quality very highly.

Because of its musical quality, the chorale enjoys the continued willingness of professional performing arts groups to collaborate on new and creative works. In a wonderful endorsement of its artistry, the Sarasota Herald Tribune’s fine arts editor described “the angelic voices of Key Chorale” in a November 2014 review of the Sarasota Ballet’s dance production of Lux Aeterna, in which Key Chorale collaborated, providing live chorus and orchestral music.

Norwegian-born composer Ola Gjeilo's transcendent "Luminosity" concerts performed by Key Chorale in April [2014] at St. Boniface Church held me breathless . . . .” - Susan Rife, Herald Tribune Arts Editor, discussing her favorite art moments in 2014 in the article “2014’s Most Memorable Moments for Arts Staff and Critics,” Herald Tribune, Dec-26-14

We are adept at creating sounds that “wow” our audiences, whether performing in concert halls, opera houses, cathedrals, outdoor musical festivals or circus tents, always delivering the strong vocal quality for which we have become known.

Key Chorale, Sarasota’s “Symphonic Chorus,” . . . offered a program . . . that shows how brilliant programming and excellent training can add up to a special evening of music. . . . Key Chorale and Caulkins prove that any size chorus, large or small, if properly trained and rehearsed can pull off gorgeous, stylistic readings of . . . great music. . . . Key Chorale is coming into its own and we have nothing but praise for them and their conductor.  June LeBell,  Sarasota Observer music critic, Nov-30-2015

Needs Statement

Key Chorale fills a musical niche unoccupied by any other arts organization in the area. Sarasota’s only symphonic chorus produces professional quality musical performances with nationally-recognized soloists and professional orchestra at ticket prices well-below cost so that its exceptional music is accessible to a broader audience demographic.

Less than 30% of our costs are funded by ticket sales. As a result, we look to private donors for ongoing contributions to support the cost of our performances not covered by ticket sales. For example, budgeted ticket sales revenue for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018 is $121,000, versus budgeted expenses for the year of $408,100. Grant funding helps by covering an additional $40,000 of expenses. But we must look to our donors for 47% of our program funding.

Did you know it can cost as much as $26,600 to fund our professional Key Chorale Orchestra, which provides the symphonic orchestral accompaniment so vital to a successful symphonic chorale concert? Your donation of $2500, for example, subsidizes the fee for one nationally-known vocal soloist. You can contribute easily by clicking “DONATE.” Help us continue the quality programming being planned for our 33rd season.

Background Statement

Key Chorale, Sarasota’s only symphonic chorus, was organized in 1985 by Ann Stephenson-Moe and Don Ryno, with the purpose of dedication to the art of choral singing.  It was incorporated in Florida on Sept. 28, 1987, and received its IRS 501(c)(3) determination letter on Oct. 29, 1987 (EID  592779200).  The Chorale is comprised of 110 fully auditioned voices, which re-audition every 3-4 years, with a professional base of Section Leaders and Core Singers, accompanied by professional pianists, organists, and orchestral musicians.  Conductor Daniel Moe led Key Chorale with his artistic vision and style almost from inception starting in 1985, until his retirement in 2007. 

Since 2007, the chorale has been led and conducted by Artistic Director Joseph Caulkins, whose artistic vision has taken the chorale to new levels of adventurous programming, unique collaborations, and performances of new and rarely heard works. The chorale is in its 33rd season, and continues to draw large audiences and rave reviews. A Chamber Choir was started by Maestro Caulkins as an outreach arm of the chorale, and in this 33rd season features a Chamber Singers concert series for the first time.

Key Chorale has taken its music on successful tours to Europe many times, where it was well-received by audiences. In July 2017 the Chorale traveled to Washington DC to perform as invited guest performers at the 2017 Smithsonian Folklife Festival its Cirque des Voix® production with partner The Circus Arts Conservatory, and was ranked as one of the top 5 performances at the Festival. While in DC, it also was honored to be invited to perform several times at the National Cathedral.

Key Chorale produced a new CD in 2017 titled ARISE - Choral Music of Ola Gjeilo, its second CD produced under Artistic Director Caulkins. The CD contained 2 original recordings of compositions commissioned by Key Chorale.
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

What a great joy I have in being part of an organization that is, after 32 years, "green and growing." Last year we had a pen-ultimate summer by performing in Washington, DC on the National Mall for Cirque des Voix® and in the National Cathedral. Because we created Tomorrow’s Voices Today to collaborate with area high school choirs, 35 students from Riverview High School joined us. Key Chorale is continuing to offer the opportunity for high school students to regularly perform and rehearse under the baton of Maestro Joseph Caulkins. Students recommended by their choir directors and selected will also receive professional singing lessons, tutoring in the business of singing, and mentoring from Key Chorale singers.

Key Chorale, supported by extensive research, believes that students that are involved in choirs have better grades, more life discipline, and higher graduation rates. In addition, the have a lifelong enhancement in continuing to sing as demonstrated by our singing adults from so many generations. I believe our performances will enhance your life also.

Statement from the CEO/Executive Director

Key Chorale’s Season 33 is in great form on the wings of our successes last summer on tour in Washington DC, where we had the honor to sing several services at the National Cathedral, and the joy of producing four shows of Cirque des Voix® with The Circus Arts Conservatory as invited performers at the 2017 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. The 2017-2018 program season continues Key Chorale’s productions of high quality musical events and collaborations with great partners in the community that include not only The CAC, but also the Neuro Challenge Foundation for Parkinson’s, Artist Series Concerts, Sarasota County Public Schools, State College of Florida, Ringling College, and the many talented professional orchestral musicians of Sarasota who perform at every Key Chorale concert. We are fortunate to work with all of them, as well as with our wonderful group of 100+ talented singers who dedicate many hours of time to audition, rehearse, and volunteer for Key Chorale, resulting in the beautiful sounds of Key Chorale.

Financially, we ended fiscal 2017 stronger than any year in Key Chorale’s history. Revenue saw a 70% increase from fiscal 2015, with ticket sales up 38% and sources of funding from grants increasing 127% and from private donors 104%. Because of this growth, we were able to expand our core mission expenditures for Artistic Programming by 80%. Key Chorale is growing to expand the presence and diversity of high quality symphonic choral music in our community.

Key Chorale's 2017-2018 season concerts performed thus far include:

Mystical and Divine: Key Chorale opened the season in October with its fourth annual Sarasota Choral Festival concert. The Sarasota Choral Festival is open to singers of all abilities, culminating with a concert at the end of the festival.

American Roots: Come “Down in the River to Pray” as Key Chorale Chamber Singers explored our American Roots in October with choral music from Colonial times to Appalachian shape note songs, Shaker melodies, and even a set of Bluegrass with a live bluegrass band. Music by William Billings, Aaron Copland, Kevin Siegfried, Carol Barnett and more celebrated the rich history of choral singing in America.

Christmas with Dale Warland: Key Chorale brought Grammy-nominated choral conducting legend Dale Warland to Sarasota to conduct Key Chorale for two performances of his favorite holiday carols in downtown Sarasota and in Venice.

Budget $408,100
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

Key Chorale completed its 32nd season in 2016-17, which included:

The third annual Sarasota Choral Festival of over 150 singers from the community performing Handel’s Alexander’s Feast with full orchestra and soloists;

A holiday concert featuring the music of Charpentier, which was recorded live and broadcast on WSMR 89.7 on Christmas Day 2016;

A Mozart concert featuring soprano soloist Mary Wilson;

The 7th annual Cirque des Voix® (Circus of the Voices) collaboration with The Circus Arts Conservatory with three nearly sold-out performances in the Circus Sarasota Big Top tent in Benderson Park.

Long Term Success

The season concerts are clearly linked to Key Chorale’s goal to create diverse collaborations to initiate new multi-dimensional programs and concerts. Our repertoire is diverse and we are committed to educational outreach and investing in our youth to plant the seeds for a lifelong love of music. We have increased our online ticket sales each year for the last three seasons. Each collaboration and concert is assessed based on the goals set for the year. We expand programming to increase tickets sales by continuing to add each season more multiple performances of the same show at venues throughout our market area, and expanded Cirque performance schedule that continue to add a third or more performance.

Program Success Monitoring

In the long term, we expect ticket sales to continue to increase as we improve digital data collection and management to better communicate with our target audience.

We will continue our collaborations, particularly with Circus Arts Conservatory and Sarasota Young Voices.

Programming for "Tomorrow's Voices Today" with Sarasota County Public 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 in Oct. 2016 and 2017 with 60 singers returning each time from the community and traveling from out of state to participate.

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. 

Key Chorale is proud to have worked with over 250 high school students in the past year, who have expressed great appreciation for the confidence building and performance skills learned while singing with Key Chorale. Accompanying Key Chorale on its tour to Washington DC for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, joining us in the recording of our world premiere commission from Ola Gjeilo, and singing together in the 2017 Cirque des Voix and Tomorrow’s Voices Today concerts provided successful music in education outreach programming for Key Chorale.

Program Comments by Organization

Key Chorale launched its new Key Chorale Student Scholars program this year for high school students interested in college level studies and a career in vocal performance. The program enables select students from Sarasota high schools to participate in Key Chorale at no cost. Funds are also provided for concert dress, music, transportation, vocal coaching and workshops on preparing for college applications and auditions, careers in vocal performance, and other topics. There are 5 Student Scholars participating in this season’s programs.

Key Chorale collaborated with Ringling College this year to create a new internship position that provided 3 credit hours, all travel expenses, and an honorarium to a Ringling photography student who was the imbedded photographer on Key Chorale’s 2017 concert tour in Washington DC. The student was the sole official photographer for Key Chorale’s concert tour. The same student was hired to film and produce a documentary film of Key Chorale’s 2017 Sarasota Choral Festival, titled “A Life of Music” which is used to raise funds for our Student Scholar Program.

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
Trish Ivey Marketing Manager
Kay Semrod Finance and 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 110
Management Reports to Board Yes
CEO/Executive Director Formal Evaluation Yes
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Non-Management Formal Evaluation N/A

Key Chorale worked with more than 250 students, including the Riverview and Sarasota High School choirs to perform with Key Chorale at the 2017 Cirque des Voix® Sarasota, and Tomorrow’s Voices Today, which included coaching, conducting, and performing with North Port, Venice, and Pine View High School choirs. 

Key Chorale Student Scholars program was begun this year for high school students interested in college level studies and a career in vocal performance. The program enables select students from Sarasota high schools to participate in Key Chorale at no cost.

Key Chorale collaborated with Ringling College to create a new internship that provided 3 credit hours, all travel expenses, and an honorarium to a photography student who was the imbedded photographer on Key Chorale’s 2017 concert tour in Washington DC

Key Chorale continues their community involvement with the “Off-Key Chorale”, a choral group comprised of Parkinson’s patients and volunteer Key Chorale singers, in partnership with the Neuro Challenge Foundation and Artist Series Concerts.

Cirque des Voix®, a collaboration with The Circus Arts Conservatory that combines the 110 voices of Key Chorale with 45 professional orchestra musicians and world-class circus acts in the Circus Sarasota Big Top.

External Assessments and Accreditations
Awards & Recognition
85th Anniversary Recognition for Outstanding Music Education & PerformanceSarasota Music Club2015
Key Chorale Invited to performSmithsonian Folklife Festival2017
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
Strategic Plan Adopted 0
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
John Daniels Retired
Judy Egan Community Volunteer
A. Leslie (Lee) Holden Principal of Lee Results
Lydia Johnston Community Volunteer
Richard Lilley Community Volunteer
Matthew B. Mayper Fergeson, Skipper, Shaw, Keyser, Baron & Tirabassi, P.A.
George Mims Community Volunteer
Nancy Morris Alliance Insurance
Joel L. Morrison Community Volunteer
Lorraine Murphy Concert Artist
Larry Patton Community Volunteer
Judith Plerhoples Community Volunteer
M. Catherine Vernon Key Chorale
Constituency Includes Client Representation No
Board Ethnicity
African American/Black 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 12
Hispanic/Latino 1
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Board Gender
Male 8
Female 6
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
Current Year Projections
Tax Year Start Month July
Tax Year Start Day 01
Tax Year Begins 2016
Tax Year End Month June
Tax Year End Day 30
Tax Year Ends 2017
Projected Revenue $408,100.00
Projected Expenses $408,100.00
Total Projected Revenue includes "in-kind" contributions/ donations No
Organization has Endowment Yes
Endowment Value $37,339.00
Endowment Spending Policy N/A
Capital Campaign
Currently In a Capital Campaign No
Campaign Purpose
Campaign Goal
Amount Raised To Date 0 as of 0
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 Year201720162015
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
Government Contributions$39,468$21,227$17,532
Individual Contributions$181,881$125,172$73,441
Investment Income, Net of Losses$1,530$2,534$2,576
Membership Dues$0$0$0
Special Events$10,935$8,441$19,064
Revenue In-Kind$0$0$0
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201720162015
Program Expense$317,088$218,913$192,562
Administration Expense$72,740$65,486$56,247
Fundraising Expense$14,521$7,909$7,396
Payments to Affiliates$0$0$0
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.001.030.95
Program Expense/Total Expenses78%75%75%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue6%5%7%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201720162015
Total Assets$126,151$75,897$81,106
Current Assets$126,151$75,897$45,920
Long-Term Liabilities$0$0$0
Current Liabilities$63,394$15,150$26,772
Total Net Assets$62,757$60,747$54,334
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201720162015
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountContributions, gifts, grants $181,881Contributions, gifts, grants $125,172Ticket & Music Sales $81,095
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountTicket and Music Sales $111,550Ticket & Music Sales $95,552Contributions, gifts, grants $73,441
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountGovernment Grants - Unspecified $39,468Other $32,585Other Program Service Revenue $29,689
CEO/Executive Director Compensation $0 - $50,000
Tax Credits No
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201720162015
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities1.995.011.72
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201720162015
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 1233C S. Tamiami Trail
Sarasota, FL 34276
Phone 941 921-4845