Chorus History


In January of 1966, Mary Avis and Lois Mellenchampe organized the Arundelair Chorus in Region 19.  That year in December, the chorus was chartered with 21 members.  As of 2010, there were still 14 charter members living.  Mary Avis was their first director.  In 1969, Sonny Harmon became the director.  Sonny developed cancer in 1972 so Evelyn Smith and Margaret Lilley took over as co-directors.


When Sonny died in 1973, the chorus created the Sonny Harmon Award in his memory.  This award was presented in Region #19 and #14 (confused? keep reading) to a novice director at each regional contest from 1973 through 2004.


In late 1973, Phil Davenport was hired as director.  In 1975, the Annapolis Chorus disbanded and merged with the Arundelair Chorus expanding it to 76 members.  In March of 1976, Region #19 was reorganized, and the Arundelairs became part of Region #14.  That same year the chorus took First Place at the regional contest in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Phil received the Sonny Harmon Award.  The chorus went to London, England in 1977 to compete at the International Competition in the Royal Albert Hall.  Phil also took them to regional competition in Washington, DC in 1979, where they took the Second Place chorus award.


In those days, the chorus had a registered quartet, the Sea Gals.  Dottie Early, Judy Ferguson, Elaine McQueeney and Jean Dawson made up the quartet and took first place in the 1976 Regional Quartet competition.  They went to the International Competition in Cincinnati in the Fall of the same year.  They also performed at the International Competition in England in 1977.


Another regional award was presented each year on behalf of an Arundelair quartet, Double Forte.   The award was presented to the fourth place quartet at each Region #14 competition in memory of Lila Kraft.  A card was presented with a pin and read: 


                 "Lila Kraft sang bass with the Double Forte for five years.  In 1979

                 the quartet placed 4th in the Regional Competition and received a

                 certificate to commemorate the event.  We wished we could 'wear' 

                 our certificate.  In memory of Lila and her enthusiasm for quarteting

                 and competition, the chorus established an award for the quartet that

                 achieves 4th place in the Region 14 Competition.  We chose purple

                 to highlight the pin because it was Lila's favorite color.  We hope

                 you will enjoy wearing the pin and be proud of your achievement."


Members of the quartet, Lynne Hunt, Hank Maize, and Susan Updegraff signed the card.  Lila had died of lung cancer in 1982.


Kevin King took over as director in 1980 and the chorus won Second Place in the regional competition in Ashville, NC.  Kevin also took them to regional competition in 1983 in Virginia Beach, VA where they received the Third Place chorus award.


In 1986 Kathy Groves became the chorus director.  In 1995 the chorus received the Third Place Small Chorus award and also won the Most Improved Chorus award at the regional contest.  The chorus continued its improvement and in 1996 became the Second Place Small Chorus winners.  Kathy left the chorus in 1997 and Sally Hampton served as interim director taking them to contest in 1997.  Joe Biddle was hired as director in 1998.  


In 2004 the chorus moved from Region 14 back to Region 19.  This reduced the distance to the regional competition and the length of the commute from ten (10) hours to two (2) hours.  Joe left the chorus in 2009 and Maggie Butts became the director in 2010.  In her second year as director, the chorus won the award for Most Improved Chorus at the 2012 Regional Convention in Region #19.  In an incredible feat, the chorus again won the award for Most Improved Chorus in 2013 and moved up to eighth place in the regional standings.  Maggie resigned in 2017.



March 31, 2020


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