The Randolph Singers began in 1968 when the local PTA wanted to sponsor a Broadway show to raise funds. Three people were chosen to co-chair this event and they approached H. Walton Alderfer, a retired choral director, to direct the music. For its inaugural presentation, the team selected Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance.” The production was performed in the spring of 1968 at a very neglected and run-down Chandler Music Hall.
The following two years, stage shows were performed in the John N. Murray Memorial Auditorium of the Randolph Union High School. Eventually, the group returned to perform at Chandler Music Hall. At that time, the group adopted a name - the Randolph Singers – as well as a stated mission to help revitalize and refurbish an important resource and historical building, Chandler Music Hall.
Chandler Cultural Center
The original Music Hall expanded to include galleries in 1982 and underwent major renovations in the first decade of the 21st century. Now renamed the Chandler Cultural Center, it continues to be the favorite venue for the concerts of the Randolph Singers.
In the fall of 1972, M. Dickey Drysdale, the editor and publisher of Randolph’s weekly newspaper, offered to direct the group in the December choral concert. The concert took place in Chandler and featured Vivaldi’s Gloria, as well as Christmas carols with audience participation. A musical was again staged in the spring and this pattern continued for the next six years, with Drysdale conducting a choral piece as a holiday concert and a variety of other individuals directing a musical in the spring.
In 1978 the production of the spring musicals was taken over by The Chandler Players and the time was changed to the July 4th weekend with an accelerated rehearsal schedule. This made it possible for the Randolph Singers to perform a second choral concert in the spring. For most of the subsequent years until his retirement in 1997 Drysdale would direct the Singers in two concerts a year - a career of 25 years and 40 concerts.
For the next two decades, the Randolph Singers was led by a succession of eight directors: Larry Hamberlin, Piero Bonamico, Kathy Rotondi, Lindsey Warren, Jennifer Moore, Marjorie Drysdale, Steve Finner, and Kathy Wonson Eddy. In 2014, Lindsey Warren returned for a second term at the helm and under her direction, in the fall of 2015, the Randolph Singers performed its most ambitious work ever - the All-Night Vigil (or Vespers) of Sergei Rachmaninoff. On the 100th anniversary of its first performance, 70 singers from Vermont and New Hampshire joined to sing (in Russian!) this rarely-performed choral masterpiece.
In the spring of 2016, the group found itself in need of a director again. Drysdale’s wife Marjorie, who had directed her own Randolph-based group, Sounding Joy! for twenty-eight years, consented to take on the leadership of the Randolph Singers, with husband Dick coming out of retirement to join her as co-director. So, in 2018, the Jubilee year of the Randolph Singers, the group was again led, in part, by the person who initiated its choral tradition - and two of the original singers from 1968, Bunchie Angell and Paul Calter, were still singing with the group!
During the fifty years that the Singers has existed, it has performed almost 100 concerts in Randolph and beyond. Hundreds of individuals have had the opportunity to both perform and learn about music and theater through these programs and thousands of attendees young and old have enjoyed the shows and concerts. The chorus has performed joint concerts with schools groups and shared the stage and sung with other community and professional ensembles. It has participated in the performance of major choral works with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, the Vermont Philharmonic Orchestra, and the New Hampshire Festival Orchestra, along with performing concerts with orchestras raised by the chorus itself.
The Randolph Singers has been fortunate to have three excellent composers living in the area. Kathy Wonson Eddy, Erik Nielsen, and Gwyneth Walker have all had works of theirs featured in concerts, including several premier performances: Eddy's A Stable Light is Lighted, Dancing at the Edge of Mystery, and Downriver and Walker's Mary Come Running!, Every Life Shall Be a Song, and Rejoice! were all first performed by the Randolph Singers.
As with any organization of such long standing, the mission of the Randolph Singers has adapted to the evolution of the group itself, its community as a whole, and the large demographic shifts happening across the state of Vermont. The core values of the organization have remained consistent: to provide an opportunity for all individuals who have a love of singing to find their voices, and an opportunity to share and develop their talent. No auditions are required, nor are any particular musical achievements, only a love of music and singing. This approach has provided the membership the opportunity for personal enjoyment and improvement of music and performance. Now, in its fifth decade, the Randolph Singers is enriching the lives of yet another generation of musicians from across Central Vermont and providing new and exciting music to the Central Vermont area.
Some Randolph Singers highlights:
The chorus performs a minimum of two concerts per year featuring repertoire from Broadway show tunes to major classical and sacred work.
A typical performance will provide 30 to 50 singers.
Participants travel from across Vermont to perform with the Singers: the membership comes from communities that include Vershire, Cabot, Tunbridge, the Mad River Valley, Barre, Montpelier, Norwich, Sharon, and of course the larger Randolph area.
The Randolph Singers is a 501(c)(3) organization and all contributions are deductible to the full extent allowed by law. The Singers has consistently maintained a positive balance sheet; this highly disciplined protocol will ensure the Singers long-term financial viability. The Singers is governed by a voluntary Board of Directors elected by the membership at the annual meeting.
The group enjoys 100 percent board participation in fundraising programs as well as broad community support for raffles, dinners and outright gifts. All gifts are graciously sought and appreciated.
The Randolph Singers is truly a community chorus. There are no auditions, the requirement is a love of singing, a willingness to embrace the highest standards of excellence, and a commitment to work diligently to achieve these standards.