For the last two decades of the twentieth century, Washington College (WC) offered concerts by its College and Community Chorus, which brought together undergraduates from WC and members of the Chestertown community. After the resignation of its most recent director, Professor Kathleen Mills, in 1999, it became apparent that the WC College and Community Chorus would not continue.
Late that summer, the Chester River Chorale was founded to fill this void by Bud and Jane Dengler, who became its first Music Director and Accompanist, respectively. The Denglers brought with them from Pennsylvania nearly one hundred combined years of experience directing and accompanying choral music in schools, churches, and community organizations, including the celebrated Orpheus Society of Philadelphia. Forty-seven singers participated in the Chorale’s first concerts on December 10 —11, 1999.
When the Denglers returned to Pennsylvania in 2002, Ann C. Turpin of Centreville, MD became the CRC’s Artistic Director. Ms. Turpin’s solid education and experience served her and the chorale well during the eight years as director. Ann holds an undergraduate degree in Organ Performance from DePauw University in Indiana and a Masters Degree in Sacred Music from Union Theological Seminary, New York City, with additional study at Westminster Choir College in New Jersey, and has five decades of experience in the field. She is also the founding Director of The Chesapeake Youth Chorale.
In 2005 Ms. Turpin formed the Chester Chamber Singers, a smaller group from within the larger CRC. With a membership of 14 to 20 singers, the Chamber Singers hold extra rehearsals to develop a more demanding repertoire. In 2008, Jonathan Emmons, Instructor of Music, Director of Choirs, and College Organist at Wesley College, Dover, DE, became Assistant Director and Accompanist of the CRC, and Director of the Chamber Singers. Jonathan is seen here with Bud Dengler.
Accompanists have included Mr. Emmons, Ann Hoopes, Kate Bennett, Robert Tyson, Dr. William F. Wharton, Sammy Marshall, and Stephanie LaMotte, our present accompanist.
With the retirement of Ann Turpin in the spring of 2010, and the return to graduate studies by Jonathan Emmons, the Chorale’s Board of Directors chose Douglas Cox, Artistic Director, and Mr. Sammy Marshall, Accompanist. Doug and Sammy served together for 12 years —Doug as Assistant Conductor and Sammy as Staff Accompanist —for the Soldiers’ Chorus of the United States Army Band.
The Chorale welcomed Stephanie LaMotte as our accompanist in early 2019, and Stephanie took on the additional role of Assistant Director later that year.
In the fall of 2021, Doug retired from the Chorale and Alexis Ward took the helm as new Artistic Director. Alexis brings over 15 years’ experience in community, church, and professional choirs to the Chorale, and in addition to her conducting work, she composes music for chorus, orchestra, and chamber ensembles.