Our History

 “Serving Our Community Through Song”

..In late 1992, just shy of forty years after Fayston resident Tony Egan sang in his high school chorus, he learned that Danica Buckley, an English teacher  at Green Mountain Valley School, was conducting the Northeast Kingdom Community Chorus. (For Danica’s full biography, go to Danica’s Bio). Danica and Tony  were both interested in creating a community choir in the Mad River Valley.  And so they did.

..In January, 1993, a small story in the Valley Reporter and a bunch of phone calls turned up 24 local singers. Five months later, with the generous support of the Green Mountain Cultural Center, 200 community members enjoyed Vivaldi’s Gloria at The Round Barn. Danica continued to lead and expand the Chorale until spring of 1995 when she departed Vermont.

..In two and half decades  years we have done it all. We have created, overseen and supported the Mad River Kids Chorale, Robert DeCormier’s professional ensemble Counterpoint, and the Young Singers Chorus of Vermont.  The Mad River A Cappella Chorus functioned for several years directed by Tim Guiles.   The Café Noir cabaret troupe treated us to  four Forbidden Christmas send-ups as well as several performances of Broadway and other popular music. We owned an amazing Kawai Shigeru concert grand piano which was located at the Budy Art Gallery and then the Warren United Church. We leased the Bundy Art Gallery for five years, presenting everything from internationally known classical musicians’ recitals to Circus Smirkus.

..Now the Mad River Chorale has returned to its roots.   We rehearse  Monday evenings usually in the chorus room at Harwood Union High School, preparing Holiday and Spring concerts. We had a long and varied history of growth and expansion under the creative aegis of Vermont native Piero Bonamico, the Chorale’s conductor and Artistic Director from fall 1995 through Spring 2014.

..At our June 16, 2014 concert we sang an all-Gloria program which including Puccini, Vivaldi, Schoenherr, and an arrangement/translation by Piero of Laura Branigan’s 1982 pop hit “Gloria”.  Piero announced his resignation, warned two years prior, as he moved on with his graduate studies in vocal pedagogy at Shenandoah University.

..As of August 2014, we were once again standing alone as the Mad River Valley’s community chorus with our talented new conductor, Mary Bonhag.  After two exciting years, Mary resigned as conductor in July 2016.

.. We were joined under the direction of conductor Arthur Zorn of Montpelier VT. Arthur was the music director of Bethany Church and the retired head of choral music at Spaulding High School, Barre VT.  He has served Mad River Chorale in the past as accompanist, bass soloist and substitute conductor, so he knew us and our mission well, and directed us through the holiday concerts in December 2017.

..As of January 1, 2018, Arthur has retired from conducting the Chorale and Mary Jane Austinwas named Conductor.  She was joined by Accompanist Alison Cerutti, also a longtime friend of MRC.

..Our core mission has always been singing– to support, entertain, educate and edify our Mad River Valley friends, neighbors and visitors through song. That is still the case and it will be as we go forward.

Among major pieces performed by the Mad River Chorale are  John Rutter’s  Requiem, his Magnificat  and his Gloria, Schoenherr’s Magnificat, the Groovy Version of OX,  Corigliano’s Fern Hill and Liebeslied, Brahms’ Liebeslieder  Waltzes and PDQ Bach’s Liebeslieder Polkas,  Mendelssohn’s Elijah,   Mozart’s Requiem, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solonnelle, Schindler’s Missa in Jazz,  and McClure’s St. Francis in the Americas, a Caribbean Mass.  We have done Broadway from  Anything Goes to Candide to Urinetown, and jazz and gospel and folk standards.    We have paired up with the Barre Choraleers, the Randolph Singers, the South Burlington Chorus (most recently Carmina Burana 2019), the South County Chorus, and the Green Mountain Opera Festival.  We have provided movie soundtrack music (Stone River) and silly Christmas parodies  (Forbidden Christmas).   We’ve serenaded folks with caroling.  We sang at a funeral after five teens were killed, and to raise money after a fire at a family farm.  We’ve rehearsed on-line with Zoom, and produced some virtual on-line concerts.   What’s next?  Stay tuned.

Over 25 years of singing !       1993  to  2018     and beyond…….