For 2017-2018, our conductor will be Arthur Zorn and our accompanist will be Mary Jane Austin. As of July 22, 2016 Arthur has replaced Mary Bonhag who replaced Piero Bonamico, conductor of the Mad River Chorale for 19 years after taking over from founding conductor Danica Buckley. Mary Jane has been with us for many of the seasons over that same period of time.
Arthur B. Zorn , a native of New York City, attended the Manhattan School of Music and the High School of Music and Art. After graduating with special honors in music education from Lyndon State College in 1972, he began teaching music and was appointed chair of the Fine Arts Department from 1986-96 at Spaulding High School in Barre, Vermont. Mr. Zorn has been honored as Spaulding’s “Teacher of the Year” in 1994, Jaycee’s Outstanding Young Educator and has been a finalist for Vermont State Teacher of the Year. He has been a frequent guest conductor at student music festivals throughout Vermont. His own high school students have received high ratings and first place honors at music festivals from Florida to Québec City. In 2008 Arthur retired from teaching after serving in Barre for thirty years.
Arthur has been a frequent guest vocal soloist with the Vermont Philharmonic Orchestra, and he has also sung with many other Vermont vocal ensembles over the years. In addition to being a teacher and vocal soloist he is a recognized composer of piano and organ music. His major works, “January 25, 1945” (the Liberation of Auschwitz) and “Garden Sketches” (a six movement suite for piano) have been performed live by him on Vermont Public Radio. He performed a solo piano recital of original piano at the Barre Opera House, Barre VT. Mr. Zorn is the Organist and Choir director at Bethany Church in Montpelier. He has given several solo organ recitals at Bethany Church. Arthur remains very active musically. He was the past co-director of the Capital City Band in Montpelier. Currently, he plays piano in several local instrumental chamber ensembles.
Along with his still-vibrant music activities, after retiring from Spaulding HS Arthur also picked up a long-deferred career as an abstract impressionist visual artist. His premiere art show, Improvisations, opened in July of 2004 at the Bundy Gallery in Waitsfield VT. This was the first public showing of his art work. Due to the excitement and volume of sales the show was extended for several months. In January 2007 the Bundy presented another opening of completely new art work, also featuring a piano recital by Arthur. In the June of 2008 he was the featured artist for the “Governor’s Art Exhibit” in Montpelier. Currently he has over seventy pieces of his art work on long term loan to the State of Vermont. Arthur has given art shows in many local venues. His art work is in private collections in Vermont, New Hampshire, Boston, New York City, Connecticut, Washington DC and in Florida. Arthur’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and his web site is www.artzorn.com
Mary Jane Austin
Mary Jane Austin (lead accompanist) earned her bachelor’s degree at the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she studied with Olga Radosavljevich and Vivian Weilerstein. She then pursued her graduate studies in vocal coaching and accompanying, studying both art song and opera at Duquesne University with Warren Jones and Claudia Pinza. In the field of opera, she has worked as an accompanist and coach for six summers at the EPCASO opera program in Oderzo, Italy, where she worked with mezzo soprano Vivica Genaux, soprano Young Ok Shin, and baritones Richard Bernstein and Michael Chioldi, among others. Closer to home, she co-founded the Sky Meadow Chamber Players in 2003, has worked at the Green Mountain Opera Festival as the pianist for their Emerging Artist Program and chorus, and played with the Mad River Chorale, Onion River Chorus, Vermont Opera Theater and Echo Valley Community Arts. She has also played for several silent films at the Vergennes Opera House and as resident accompanist for the Skinner Barn cabaret series. http://vcme.org/music/member/mary-jane-austin/
Mary was our conductor from 2014 to 2016, having prior experience with many of the MRC singers when she directed the Warren United Church Choir. After training at Michigan and Bard College, her lovely and charming soprano voice has been heard solo at Carnegie Hall, and other significant invited venues. Her performances in various chamber and other settings have received the highest accolades. Her current information may be found at ScragMountainMusic.org She currently lives with her young family in Marshfield, Vermont where she is the artistic director of Scrag Mountain Music, an innovative chamber music series with her husband double bassist/composer Evan Premo.
Our Spring 2016 concert “Songs My Mother Taught Me” was her fourth resounding MRC success.
Piero was our conductor from 1995 to 2014. His current biography and additional information on his programs can be found on his website. Piero also served as chorusmaster for several seasons of the Green Mountain Opera Festival, providing a professional level of opportunity to a number of MRC singers. He has recently earned the master’s degree in vocal pedagogy at Shenandoah University and currently lives in Washington, DC, where he has opened his own voice studio.
Danica was the founding director of the Mad River Chorale in 1993. She is currently director of the Choral Arts Society of the South Shore, directs choirs at Simmons College and Lesley University, and other groups as well. www.choralartsociety.org/director
Robert De Cormier
Robert De Cormier “retired” to Vermont, but Piero Bonamico helped him start his Counterpoint professional choral group under the Mad River Chorale umbrella. It is now fully independent, and DeCormier is now fully retired from it. He is well-known in serious choral music history as a conductor and arranger, and somewhat famous to the general public as the arranger for Harry Belafonte and Peter Paul and Mary. He coached several Mad River Chorale concerts when we performed his work.
Donald Neuen was Piero’s conducting teacher and mentor at Eastman School of Music, and has collaborated with Piero on the Choral Excellence series of videos (http://www.choralexcellence.com) and other educational materials. He has worked with the Mad River Chorale, notably in preparing Elijah. He has just retired from his position as professor at UCLA after a long distinguished career as as a composer, conductor, and arranger. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Neuen