In late 1992, Walter Collins, one of the founders of the International Federation for Choral Music (IFCM); Mark Gresham, Editor of Chorus! magazine; Robert D. Reynolds, professor of music history at Arizona State University and listowner of the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia e-mail list; and James D. Feiszli, Director of Music at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology; began an e-mail dialogue regarding the possibility of connecting the International Center for Choral Music in Namur, Belgium and MUSICA, the international choral music databank, to U.S. choral musicians via the Internet.
At the 1993 national convention of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), Collins and Feiszli, assisted by ACDA president-elect Lynn Whitten, organized a meeting with persons interested in communicating via Internet technology. Shortly thereafter, using the University of Colorado listprocessor capabilities, ACDAlist, the first e-mail list dedicated to choral music, was created with Feiszli as the listowner/manager. At ACDA's request, the list was relabeled Choralist in June 1993 and soon became a focal point for choral musicians on the Internet. David Topping, one of the original subscribers to the list, volunteered to manage the list while Feiszli was out of the country during September of 1993 and remained on as co-manager.
As Choralist grew, other services were added. The Choralist Resource Site (CRS, now Resources) was created late in 1993 using the SDSMT gopher server. A Choralist Advisory Group, comprising interested and influential online choral musicians, was formed in early 1994. After exponential growth in membership, in November 1995 Choralist became ChoralNet, which included Choralist, the CRS, CHOREF (an on-line choral music database now part of the international choral music databank MUSICA, ChoralAcademe, ChoralTalk, and the ChoralNet website. Topping became the systems manager, supervising Choralist and ChoralTalk while Feiszli created and maintained the website, managed ChoralAcademe, and managed CHOREF and the CRS.
In early 1996 IFCM, having decided to expand their presence on the Internet, approached Feiszli about a merger of efforts. It was decided that ChoralNet would be designated an official project of the IFCM. In return, Feiszli created IFCM's first website and hosted it on the ChoralNet server and IFCM became the first major choral association to sanction ChoralNet. In 1997, at the instigation of Lynn Whitten, ACDA asked ChoralNet for assistance in developing its website. ACDA funded a part-time ChoralNet Manager position; David Topping filled that position and created ACDA's initial website. During that same period ChoralNet also worked with other choral organizations such as Chorus America and Europa Cantat to develop other resources such as the Chorus America website, EuroChoralTalk, and Foro de Musica Coral Latinoamericana.
By the beginning of the new millennium, ChoralNet was a non-profit organization, incorporated under South Dakota law, with a Board of Directors and elected officers. Its Board included major choral figures from around the world representing the major choral associations of the world. ChoralNet operated three email lists (Choralist, ChoralAcademe, ChoralTalk), a website with a large online repository of choral-related links and resources, and two web-based forums (EuroChoralTalk and Foro de Musica Coral Latinoamericana). It had a Manager, David Topping, paid by ACDA and a volunteer webmaster, Allen Simon. There was also a host of volunteer list moderators who worked to maintain the quality and civility of the ChoralNet lists and forums as well as a volunteer Board of Directors who worked to raise funds and govern the fast-growing ChoralNet operation.
With the new decade ChoralNet still had challenges ahead. Paperwork was filed with the United States Internal Revenue Service to achieve official 501©3 non-profit status. Similarly an application to trademark the name “ChoralNet” was granted by the U.S. government. Annual fund drives were mounted to provide operating funds.
By 2002, it was apparent that the organizational structure was not sufficient for funding nor operational governance. At the World Choral Symposium in August 2002 in Minneapolis, Feiszli called a meeting of all interested parties. Board members, Executive Directors and elected officials of major choral associations, and other interested individuals convened and in a three-hour session, recommended a restructuring of the corporation that would create a seven-member Board, with representatives from the three founding organizations, each who would fund the corporation with an annual set fee and the creation of classes of ChoralNet users based on annual donations.
Based on these recommendations, Feiszli convened the Board of Directors in September and October and that body drafted a new constitution and bylaws for the organization. In January 2003, the Board met to vote upon the restructuring and approved the changes. It also nominated and elected a new Board to replace itself. That Board also accepted the resignation of David Topping, who had decided to move on after many years as Manager after June 30 of 2003.
A national search was instituted for a new Manager and, after interviewing many candidates, ChoralNet welcomed Martin Knowles to its staff. He assumed his duties on 1 July 2003. ChoralNet at this time maintained and hosted the websites of IFCM, ACDA, and Chorus America and related subsidiaries such as the World Youth Choir and World Choral Symposiums. In the fall of 2003, ChoralNet closed its ChoralNet Repertory Site and merged it with Musica, the international choral music databank which, like ChoralNet, is an official project of IFCM.
Much of 2004, 2005, and 2006 were spent in organizational management issues as the reorganization and hiring of a new Manager had happened at nearly the same time. ChoralNet's new structure was tested immediately as it welcomed the addition of its first commercial Partner, Rehearsal Arts in May of 2005. In June 2006 Small World Musicfolder.com followed, giving ChoralNet five contributing Partners. It was decided that the founding association Partners would always each have a seat and vote on the Board but that subsequent Partners would choose a single representative to the Board.
By 2007, it was clear that web-based communications was future of Internet communications. At its June 2007 meeting the ChoralNet Board voted to make the website is primary focus of activity and to begin to move away from its traditional email-based lists. Thus began a two year project by Knowles and Simon to build a completely new software system from scratch, giving ChoralNet the means and capability for growth into the 21st century. Most of 2008 was spent in this background work while the normal activity of ChoralNet continued.
In 2009, ChoralNet 2.0 was unveiled. Choralist and ChoralTalk ceased to exist in favor of web-based forums operating strictly from the website. Individual users were, for the first time, able to decide what and how much email they would receive managing their own subcsiptions to forum discussions and announcements.
In the meantime the American Choral Directors Association, under the new management of Executive Director Tim Sharp, had struggled with its own technology needs. Late in 2009 ACDA approached ChoralNet with the idea of joining efforts in choral networking. After several months of negotiation and diplomacy, ChoralNet agreed to merge with ACDA in a historic vote of the ChoralNet Board of Directors in Deember 2009.
The early months of 2010 were spent in merger details and developing a communcations system for ACDA (ChoralNet Communities). O on June 30, 2010 ChoralNet, Inc. was dissolved. ChoralNet operations were assumed by ACDA. ChoralNet became ACDA ChoralNet, governed by a sub-committee of the ACDA Technology Committee chaired by Feiszli. ChoralNet now operated under the auspices of the American Choral Directors Association and is focused towards the future of online choral communications.