The State College Choral Society
The music of American composer, Randall Thompson, has been described as American in spirit, yet universal in its appeal. Although, Thompson was born in New York City in 1899, and grew up in New Jersey, he was a New Englander at heart.
As a student at Harvard University in 1916, Thompson auditioned for the Harvard Glee Club, but was not accepted, a rejection he earnestly sought to change. Not only was he successful, but the glee club’s conductor, Dr. Archibald Davison, also became his mentor, teaching him important choral techniques.
In 1927, the same year he married the warm and charming Margaret Whitney of Philadelphia, Thompson also accepted the position of assistant professor of music and choir director at Wellesley University. In 1933 he received his doctorate in music from the University of Rochester School of Music.
In 1935, a survey, which Thompson organized, was responsible for revolutionizing the instruction and performance of music on America’s college campuses. The printed study led to increased competence and professionalism in the performance of college choirs.
Thompson returned to choral writing with the completion of the commissioned work, The Peaceable Kingdom, based on the Biblical text of Isaiah. Later came the commissioned work Alleluia, composed for a mixed chorus, and The Testament of Freedom, honoring the 200th birthday of Thomas Jefferson. These and other compositions firmly established him as a writer of choral music, both nationally and internationally.
Thompson conducted Frostiana, musical score set to the poetry of Robert Frost, at a concert to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Amherst, Massachusetts. He later conducted a concert of his music, including the orchestrated accompaniment to Frostonia, at the Sanders Theater at Harvard before his retirement in 1965. His musical works included chamber, choral, and orchestral compositions.References: