Sippican Choral Society is a welcoming, non-audition community chorus based in Marion, Massachusetts, dedicated to the performance of all genres of choral music from Renaissance to 21st century.
Since its founding in 1965, Sippican Choral Society has been committed to bringing quality choral music to audiences in Plymouth County and the broader southeastern MA region. Membership is open to singers of all ages, abilities, backgrounds, and communities. We seek to train amateur vocalists to produce a quality, professional sound. We seek to entertain but also to educate our audiences about a variety of musical composers and styles.
In his 6th season as Sippican Choral Society’s Music Director, Darry Dolezal is a versatile musician who has conducted choruses and orchestras, led clinics and workshops internationally, toured as a chamber musician and soloist, and served as a university professor and as a church music director. He has directed choirs at Old South Church in Boston, Newtonville Methodist Church, Pilgrim Congregational Church in Cambridge, and is currently the music director of First Church and Parish in Dedham. He was a frequent conductor and clinician of orchestras in the Midwest during his time as cello professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia. As a concert cellist, Darry Dolezal has appeared in venues ranging from Carnegie Hall to the Copacabana Palace and performed extensively with chamber ensembles such as the Artaria Quartet, the Esterhazy Quartet, and the Boston-based Thoreau Piano Trio. A dedicated proponent of contemporary music, he has premiered hundreds of new works, including many written for him, and created music festivals such as the Warebrook Contemporary Music Festival in Vermont. Darry performs with the Grammy-winning Boston Modern Orchestra Project and has recorded for the Albany, Capstone, Centaur, and CRI/New World labels.
An independent piano teacher in Mattapoisett, Michelle Gordon has accompanied Sippican Choral Society since 2001. She is also accompanist for the Southcoast Children's Choir and the Musical Director of the Mattapoisett Congregational Church. She is a past-President of the Massachusetts Music Teachers Association and was MMTA "Teacher of the Year" for 2010.
Section leaders are appointed by the President. They are experienced SCS members and your "go-to" people when you have questions about policies and procedures. They are also in charge of their section's attendance, so please inform them if you need to miss practice and follow up with them after your absence. Section leaders are responsible for the comfort and well-being of all members, but especially of those new to their sections, so please feel free to share with them any concerns, questions, or suggestions.
As initially composed by former member Peter Converse McDonald on the occasion of Sippican Choral Society’s 50th Anniversary and edited in 2023 by Kelli McSweeny
According to Shirley Cowell, who was Sippican Choral Society’s first president, 10-15 people from Marion first began talking about forming a chorus sometime in 1964. At that time, church choirs were the only outlet available for groups of people to sing together. So, this fledgling group, wanting a larger, unified organization, contacted John Pandolfi, who was then Director of the Tri-County Symphonic Band. John agreed to let this first choir sing with his band provided they formally organize, which they did, calling themselves the Regional Civic Chorus. Their first concert, on December 3, 1965, was held in Bristol Auditorium at Old Rochester Regional High School and was a joint one with the Tri-County Symphonic Band. Thelma Ostenfeld, our first accompanist, was very encouraging and helped find the chorus’ first Music Director, Xavan Mazmanian, who was then a music teacher at Old Rochester.
This first concert, with 35 singers, almost all of whom were from Marion and Mattapoisett, was a strange mix of music – with everything from Bach’s “Honor and Glory” and Berlioz’ “Thou Must Leave Thy Lowly Dwelling” to Copeland’s “Stomp Your Foot” and Peter Wilhousky’s wonderful arrangement of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home." Versatility seems to have been the theme!
It was not until early 1972 that the chorus was renamed Sippican Choral Society. At that point, the group had grown to 40-50 members and established the pattern of concerts it still adheres to today: a Christmas Concert of both sacred and secular music, and a Spring Concert, usually in April or May, often of a lighter fare. This second concert has often been sung twice – once in Marion and once out “on the road” – everywhere from New Bedford to Cambridge and Lexington to Plymouth and Fall River. We have also sung many joint concerts – with the New Bedford Choral Society and the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra, as well as with the Concord Chorus, the Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra, and the SouthCoast Chorale in Fall River.
One memorable concert for many occurred in 1976 as part of the Bicentennial, when the chorus sang “200 Years of American Theatre Music.” We have done concerts of sea shanties, staged Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, and performed medleys from Broadway, American folk music, and even some jazz. Another highlight of our performance history was singing with the NBSO and Choral Society at the dedication of the New Bedford Historic Whaling Park, when we performed Beethoven’s 9th and Vaughan Williams “Sea Symphony.”
While numbers sometimes say little, in this case they say much about Sippican Choral Society and its impact on the communities along our beautiful coast. Since December of 1965:
Over 5,000 singers from all the towns along the Southcoast, as well as from Plymouth, Middleborough, Taunton, Boston, and the Cape, have sung in over 130 concerts. Close to 45,000 people have heard us sing well over 850 different pieces of music.
We have had 9 Music Directors over the past 50 years, one of whom gave us a reprise. Each has brought out the best in us, taking us places musically we did not believe we could go. They are:
We also wish to honor our 5 accompanists who have partnered with our directors over the past 5 decades. We are grateful for their talent, dedication, sense of humor, encouragement, and abundant patience. They are:
Sippican Choral Society typically features 80 to 90 singers at concerts, which says something about our growth from the original 15 organizers in 1964 and the 35 in 1965 who sang at our first concert. It is somewhat humbling, yet very gratifying as well, to realize how many people have heard and, hopefully, enjoyed the wide range of music the chorus has presented over the past 50 years.
A member of the chorus was once asked what would bring her out of a warm home on a cold and snowy January night to a rehearsal over ten miles away. Her answer, I think, is why we all do it: "It’s just for the joy of singing." May the next 50 years be full of such joy for singers and audiences alike!
Also, here’s an item of additional interest from the Archives of the Sippican Historical Society: http://sippicanhistoricalsociety.org/tidings-of-comfort-and-joy/