David Randolph (1914-2010)
Conductor, Educator, Broadcaster, & Author
David Randolph was the conductor of The St. Cecilia Chorus and Orchestra from 1965 to 2010. David Randolph passed away on Wednesday, May 12, 2010. We lost a treasure of a human being, and we are all so lucky to have known him.
Click here to view an Oral History Interview recorded on March 25, 2010.
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Tribute to David Randolph by Oliver Sacks via the Paris Review
I’ve been staring at my computer screen for a very long time now, and nothing seems to be happening. That’s ridiculous, of course; but at the same time, it’s entirely reasonable. It all has to do with the nature of the challenge. It is really quite impossible for me to convey what David Randolph has meant to me. It is a task of such enormity and intensity that I simply don’t have words for it. I rather wonder if anybody does. Some things are simply beyond words. I remember well, in fact, that at his Mohonk weekend devoted to the Beethoven Missa Solemnis, David reached the “Benedictus” and said, “Some things are just too beautiful to analyze.” That statement definitely - and perfectly - applies to the way I feel about my relationship to David (and, in fact, to his late wife, Mildred). I couldn’t even begin to convey the love I had for them both - the love, the respect, the admiration, ... the awe, really.
So maybe I should start with the history part; that’s easier. I know the very first time I ever met David. It was a summer sing of the Bach Mass in B Minor. I had read about it in the newspaper; and, as I loved singing and loved beautiful choral music, I decided to give it a try. I now know much better than to let a novice begin on the B Minor Mass. But I was younger (much!) then - and more naïve (read “nuts” - Despite the fact that I had sung in my high school and college choruses and a church choir for years, I was nowhere near ready for that Bach.)
But ignorance can, indeed, be bliss - and, in this case, very lucky, too. So off I went for an evening of glorious music. It was wonderful, all right - but not in any way for what I contributed. I was thrilled by the magnificence of the music, even so - and hooked.
And the other splendiferous part of the evening was that delightful man conducting. (Little did I know how delightful back then, but it was more than enough for a start.) He obviously had a real passion for this music, and he shared it with all of us with love, great enthusiasm, amazing articulation, and even a delicious sense of humor. Here was a man who clearly cared deeply about his work and was able to share that with everyone around him! He reveled in every aspect of the music, and that passion was contagious. Happily, that first taste was entirely representative of how David was all the time, and I (as all members of his choruses) have been incalculably enriched by his joy in music, in people, and in life in general.
So began an adventure that came to be a vital part of my life. I auditioned for The Masterwork Chorus in the fall of 1973 (the year after my younger son Marshall was born). I later became President of the chorus - I’m not sure exactly when, but at some point before we performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington in May of 1975. And it was somewhere in that time frame, too, that I took pity in response to David’s weekly pleas for a ride to Montclair College and began driving him to the classes he taught on Thursday mornings.
Thus began an entire course in music. All I had to do was have the radio on when he got into the car, and the wonderful lecture began. He was the consummate teacher and mentor. I paid careful attention, asked questions, and learned a lot. What a priceless gift that was! And as the music knowledge flowered, so, too, did a marvelous friendship that grew to embrace my whole family. How lucky we were to know David - and we knew it!
I finally got up the courage to audition for The St. Cecilia Chorus, which I knew was a much more formidable test. So I was pretty nervous about it. I came to a rehearsal in the fall of 1978, and at intermission, came up to the piano to “face the music” (right there in front of all those people? What a completely crazy idea!). David picked up the Mendelssohn “Kyrie” the chorus had just been working on, and I, like an idiot, pointed out that I had just been rehearsing it right along with the group, so it wouldn’t really be sight-reading. (- talk about flustered. ... What was I thinking????) So he flipped open the Bach “B Minor” instead, and I got to do my audition on the alto part of the solo duet “Et in unum Dominum”. Somehow, I must have gotten through it at least adequately, but my stomach still begins to knot every time I hear it. I’ve watched him audition literally hundreds of singers since then, all with his usual kindness and warmth.
So began many years of privilege, getting to sing with and learn from this magnificent conductor with an ingrained musical sensitivity such as I had never encountered before. He really felt the music deeply and seemed to be able to convey that sensitivity – and the sheer joy of it all - to those of us singing with him. In addition, he was our weekly musicologist, raconteur, and the kind of funny, impish character I could really relate to. We all took the music very seriously, but not each other. We worked and we laughed our way through years of rehearsals that were the high point of each week. And through it all, David was that same delicious human being - warm, generous, responsive, fun, and filled with sensitivity and love of the people around him and of life in general
I’ve never come down from the high, the privilege, of knowing David; I’ve never had any reason to. Through good times and not-so-good times, David’s solicitous caring and wise counsel helped me grow and blossom in ways I never thought possible. In many senses, the person I am today is a product of our friendship. And if I could ever mirror even a modicum of his integrity, incredible generosity of spirit, genuine caring for others, sheer humanity, I should be a very proud person, indeed.
– Sheridan W. Chapin
Mildred and David will never be replaced in our hearts, but we will try to keep the chorus going in their memories.
– Joanie Solomon
If Andrew Carnegie and Isaac Stern knew David Randolph's vision of 45 years woulkd transcend the Hall's wrecking ball earlier, they would stand aghast. His stirring majesty of Handel's "Messiah" ... Haydn's "Creation"... Mozart's "Requiem" echo and reecho in our time. Outside and inside W.57th Street and Seventh Avenue. What a blessing for us and David Randolph's own majestic humanity...
– Estelle L. Adler
My wife, Myra, and I sang with Masterwork Chorus for many years when we lived in New Jersey. Our fondest recollections are of David, before a performance, putting a white Life Saver in his mouth and smiling through it. I remember him at rehearsals wearing a brown turtleneck and mopping his brow with a white towel. I also remember his visit to Hartford to conduct a workshop for the Hartford Chorale. But, above all, I remember his sense of humor, consummate musicianship and dedication to the music. Somewhere, he's still conducting "Messiah."
– Joe Panitch
You opened for me the world of Music. As you know Music transcends time and nourishes the soul. During times of great challenges, I found solace in Elgar's Sea Pictures and felt my deep feelings. I discovered much later that Elgar was a composer whom you also admired. Thank you for all you were.
– Roger Szajngarten
When I was about 10, perhaps in 1947, Music for the Connoisseur appeared on WNYC. It was broadcast on Tuesdays from 8:30 to 9:30 PM. I loved the program--both the music and the enlightening comments by David Randolph. My parents allowed me to stay up until 9:30 despite the fact that Wednesday was a school day so that I could listen to the beautiful music and learn all the interesting facts that David Randolph told his listeners. I have remained a David Randolph fan ever since then.
– George Jochnowitz
As Mildred lay dying, David decided that she would be pleased (and distracted) to have various people that she was close to over the years come and visit her in the hospice where she was located. He didn't want her inundated with visitors, so he had people arrive at scheduled intervals - much as he scheduled orchestra rehearsals, and indeed most of his life. He called me up and asked if I'd like to visit Mildred, and we agreed on the afternoon a few days later, which happened to be my birthday. The day came and I got a call from David about 11:00 am to tell me that Mildred had just died. We spoke for a few minutes. About an hour later David called again. "I forgot to wish you a happy birthday," he told me.
– Richard Mishell
I feel honored to have known David Randolph. Too few people enjoy the experience of working with someone who was able to live a long life made meaningful by doing what he truly enjoyed. David’s love of music and performers was evident in everything he did. Making music is what propelled him joyfully through life. What a great lesson for us all!
– Katie Davis
Thank you David for the many years of joy you have brought into our lives.
– Renee and Seymour Scherzer
David Randolph, as many of us who both were familiar with his work with various choral groups as well as those of us personally acquainted with him, knew that he was a very special person, both as a musician, and as a human being.
He was generous to many, and his like will not be often met. To me, he was a friend, a dear friend, in fact, who by his ideas has become a continual source of inspiration to me, providing me with the courage to express certain ideas I have had for a long time, simply by his clarification for me of those ideas, by his very strong musical beliefs, which I found and still find that I very much share and live by.
I have had occasions where my friendship with him has gone beyond the business of the St. Cecilia Chorus. We have met at many concerts and therein shared our sentiments. And as a matter of fact, one time, when I was performing a concert of my work at a church in Chelsea and invited him, he actually came to that concert, which thrilled me to no end.
Another time when we arranged to have dinner together at a restaurant in the East 60's (on 2nd Ave.), instead of taking a bus or cab, he actually walked those twenty odd blocks to meet me. The same when we met at another restaurant near the museum at 82nd St. and Madison Ave. Quite impressive for a gentleman in his 90's, I must say.
Even our basic acquaintanceship was by his initiative. We met at more than one concert in Avery Fisher Hall, and he struck up a conversation with me. I have no idea or memory of how this came about, and certainly cannot imagine what it would have been to induce him to approach me like that, but so it was, and I am eternally grateful to him for deciding and communicating to me that I was worth the bother, so to speak.
He invited me to come and hear his next concert at Carnegie Hall with the St. Cecilia Chorus, which happened to feature Handel's Messiah. Needless to say, I felt immediately drawn and accepted his invitation almost as a command, all of which opened many doors to me. The better I got to know him, the more convinced I became that here was someone who thinks in very much the same way as I do, or rather, pointing out to me that my own ideas confirm what he himself always believed, as far as music in general goes. His book, "This is Music" has thus become a real bible to me in that regard, and I frequently draw on some of its points and principles when I discuss music with others.
I in turn offered him an invitation to join the Gustav Mahler Society of New York of which I have been a member for many years (knowing that he was enthusiastic about Mahler's music). He graciously accepted this invitation, promptly became a member, and attended many of our meetings.
Despite being known and practically typed as a choral conductor, it was my understanding that he had ambitions to conduct many orchestral works, especially those from a more contemporary period, thus evidencing a keen interest in the ongoing musical scene. Not what one would expect from someone of his advanced age; in fact, his interests and enthusiasm in such directions were far beyond that commonly seen in persons of a much younger age. I have known him since sometime in the late 1990's, when I first met him as described, which is really not that long a period, relatively speaking, compared to what others may have experienced, but despite that relatively brief period of acquaintance, he managed to touch my sensibilities when it came to music, and I like to think that in my own way, I was able to reach him as well; a simple task when one thinks about it, for our viewpoints were almost never in opposition, and in fact on most occasions were quite in agreement. It was a matter of corroborating our insights, if my choice of words is correct.
In any event I (and all others who knew David) will deeply miss his inspirational friendship, and can only at this point say, "May the spirit of what he strove to create live on with us for a long time, and may we continue to derive such inspiration from someone who has made this world a better place to live, even though he is no longer with us."
– William Zucker
Such a pleasure to have known and worked with him! He will be missed. This is a wonderful interview. Thank you, NYPL!
– Thomas Juneau
I am so privileged to have had the opportunity to perform as tenor soloist under David Randolph on four occasions. The professionalism he exhibited was exemplary. My life is richer because of him, and I am thankful for our friendship.
– Randal Rushing
I could use a well-worn phrase to say that David Randolph changed my life, but that wouldn’t be quite accurate. When I first met David Randolph, I didn’t know that changing a life was something a person could do. I was nineteen years old, had just started my first job in New York City, and might as well have arrived from across the country, instead of from lower Westchester County, for all I knew about the big city.
It was as if David held up a large sign that read, “Come this way.” I did, and I followed that sign for the rest of his life. I knew nothing about music, but my mother loved classical music, and I thought she would be pleased if I took an interest. My fingers walked through the catalog for Continuing Education, NYU. There it was: Great Symphonies and Concertos with David Randolph. I signed up and kept coming back. He never said the same thing twice about the same piece of music. He made the deep elements of music fully accessible for a nonmusician like me. After my fourth or fifth semester, I asked David how many times I could keep repeating the class. He said, “I can stand it if you can” (a typical Randolphian understatement)!
David could be known only alongside his brilliant and adorable wife, Mildred. After my first evening with that delicious lady, David asked me how I had enjoyed meeting Mildred. I said, “She is what I want to be when I grow up.” She still is.
I was timid and shy then and had fears about traveling around the City. I didn’t know how to find Carnegie Hall, which, of course, would be required if I wanted to hear live music. David drew me a map and wrote down exactly what bus I should take to get there. He drew those maps more than once in the early days.
Steadfastly holding up that directional sign, David encouraged the pursuit of every unusual interest that came my way, from music into dance, into functional anatomy, and back into music, and finally to actually singing with The St. Cecilia Chorus. It was a much longer, convoluted project than one sentence suggests. David never flagged in his enthusiasm and support for continuing. For thirty years of rehearsals I have rarely missed a moment of that intense joy, immersed in choral music with David and my fellow St. Cecilians. Like David, I have always run eagerly to get there on Monday nights.
All of the relationships that have since developed with friends, colleagues and mentors have evolved for me from David’s original sign. What I miss most is not being able to dial that phone number to tell David about something good that just happened, or about something funny. David’s image lives on in my mind’s eye and ear constantly. His qualities of loving and empathic sympathy, his sense of devotion and honor, his childlike pleasure in fun and humor, all still carry that invisible sign for me.
I met David at his music appreciation course when I was nineteen. On the first night, I stood outside the classroom, filled with trepidation. I didn’t know anything about music, and I feared the other waiting students were way ahead of me. The elevator door opened to reveal David.
He greeted each of us in turn, with his unique courtliness. I quickly became enchanted with the course, absorbing the fusion of intellectual understanding and passion that permeated David’s presentations. He could discuss music with an open-hearted emotionality, in front of a room full of strangers.
With David came the splendid Mildred. Without the two of them, I might have missed the abiding interests of my life -- music, dance, and the achievement of a liberal arts degree. I most certainly would never have sung a note. Their mutual devotion to music was exceeded only by their gentle care for those around them and an integrity that is embodied by example alone.
I have a memory of a time long ago. I see the two of them, sitting with their heads together, elucidating for me a theme from Beethoven’s Third Rasumovsky Quartet -- Mildred singing the melody; David, the pizzicato cello. That is how they live in my heart: two discrete instruments, attuned, sounding in concert.
– Lynn Martin
Passing Through, Passing Through,
Sometimes Happy, Sometimes Blue,
Glad that I ran into you;
Tell the PEOPLE that I saw
My Brother David
– Stanley Rosenberg
I have been a member of St. Cecilia Chorus since the fall of 1975. I took a year off after the birth of my first child, so it seems I am starting my 35th year as a St. Cecilian. I can hardly believe that the chorus--and David--have been part of my life for so long!
It still surprises me that I made it into the chorus at all. At the time I first tried out, my version of audition nerves was that my brain and vocal cords would part company; even if I knew what the notes said, half the time something else would come out of my mouth. I auditioned several times, and the problem kept recurring. For some reason, David did not want to send me packing--I think he liked my voice, and at least sometimes I read well. Finally, he had me sit next to Judy Landau (yes, I was an alto then, before I started taking voice lessons), and had her report on my performance. She said I did fine, and that was that. (Clearly the standards have gotten stiffer since then, but I can't complain!) I did get over my brain-freeze (voice-freeze?), and have survived several re-auditions (group and personal).
David was a marvelous musician, and a terrific person. I very much enjoyed the dinners at Pangea, where I got to talk to him. What an interesting life he led! I am glad that he had so much of it, and that for most of it he was full of energy and strength. I will miss him very much.
– Penny Willis
I admired David not only for his musical knowledge and wisdom of interpretation, for his energy and vigor, but also for his amazing generosity, which I witnessed as a friend of a chorus member who was in trouble.
– Trudy Schwarz
David and Mildred and we have been cherished friends since we were staff members at summer camp in the 1930s, following which David's remarkable talents evolved quickly in music and unique choral performances while I found a life in academia.
Like so many, and despite our living so far apart, we were increasingly in awe of the power of David's commitment to and expertise in producing such heavenly music that so many of you knew and were part of.
Whenever we were present at one of David's rehearsals, he unfailingly recalled our shared experiences in the camp, in the presentation of stage plays (which he insisted were for his first experiences in facing an audience), and as life guards, where his subtle humor infused our relationship so satisfyingly.
We agree that the world has lost one of its most effective purveyors of that which enriches all of our lives.
We loved him, while he added so much to our lives as well as yours.
– Hannah and Moe Bergman
I'm new this year, so I never sang with him in the St. Cecilia Chorus. I did sing a performance of the Mahler 2nd Symphony in which he prepared the chorus. I was tremendously impressed with his introduction of the choral entry in the 5th movement, marked pppp (or possibly ppppp). He showed what that meant by simply saying, "If I can hear you, you're singing too loud." We got the point.
I also recall running into him at a Peoples Concert, shortly after 9-11. He had just published a letter in the New York Times recalling the time he had seen a plane fly into the Empire State Building - I think in 1942. He was quite cordial and indulged me with his recollections of the event.
I recall my amazement at his concerts at the energy and intelligence both of his conducting and of his pre-concert remarks. I don't know of any conductor of any age who introduced a concert as well as he did.
– Charles Hollander
My introduction to David was in December, 1981, when I attended a performance of Messiahgiven by the Masterwork Chorus in Avery Fisher Hall. It was during that performance that I knew I wanted to sing under the direction of the conductor of what had been a glorious concert. In January, 1982, I joined Masterwork and met David for the first time. That very season was most memorable for me because it was my first exposure to composer Vaughan Williams’ A Sea Symphony, which became one of David’s as well as one of my all time favorites. The 1982 season marked the beginning of what was to become a 28 year association and friendship with David. I met Mildred when I joined St. Cecilia in 1997.
During the past 10 years, I have had the privilege of serving as Chorus Archivist. Working with David during this period was an extraordinarily enriching, and most memorable experience. David and I literally spent hours working together and during those sessions, I was enlightened by David’s vast musical knowledge, his historical accountings, very funny stories, attention to detail, and his drive for perfection. Our work in those sessions resulted in establishing The St. Cecilia Chorus Collection of Recorded Sound in the N. Y. Public Library for the Performing Arts. Establishing the collection was one of David’s proudest accomplishments and he truly enjoyed working with Don McCormick, George Boziwick, Sara Velez and other members of the library staff. Even though David is no longer with us, our work continues as we focus on preserving his legacy. His legacy will live on through his last Oral History Interview and The David Randolph Collection of his personal items, being established in the N. Y. Public Library for the Performing Arts. The Collection will also include David’s WNYC Radio Broadcasts that have been digitally preserved, thanks to Andy Lanset – Director of Archives, WNYC & WQXR.
David was as inspiration, a mentor and a good friend to many whom he touched over the years. I think our tribute in next month’s Carnegie Hall program expresses the sentiments of chorus members and many others, “we shall forever be touched by his affection, his commitment and dedication to The St. Cecilia Chorus and he shall always be in our memories.”
– Michael Garrett, The Cecilia Chorus of New York Archivist
Oh you irreverent, irrepressible, unforgettable maverick. Man of music. Of wit - and wiles - and passion. From the first night in 1948 on WNYC when your spoken voice mesmerized me, through our years in the chorus, to date, and hereafter, you remain one of the joyous enrichments of my life.
– Bina Mozell
In 1940, my father, Gilmore Stott and his sister Tracey Stott, sang with David. It was a momentous time. War had started in Europe. My father was working for the committee to defend America by aiding the allies. As soon as the United States entered the war, my father volunteered.
The next time he saw David was in 1995. My wife, Rachel Stott, was singing in the St. Cecilia Chorus. By accident we had discovered their connection. When Rachel had asked David if he remembered her father-in-law he said “Oh yes, Gilmore Stott ... He had a beautiful sister!”
So in 1995 we brought my father to one of the St. Cecilia concerts. Afterwards, we took my father backstage to meet David. Once we had gotten back on the street, my father marveled at David’s energy and spirit. Both my father and David belong to a generations of giants.
– John Stott
A remembrance –
I remember the warmth and charm of your smile, your love of and dedication to music and your humanity. You will be missed.
– Leona A.
I have admired David Randolph since 1946 when I began to listen to him on WNYC. My parents allowed me to stay up until 9:30 on Tuesday evenings to listen to him.
– George Jochnowitz
As I think of David Randolph, the impelling memory that keeps recurring is that here was a man who followed his bliss and passion all of his life. Indeed, he led us, his chorus and friends to share his passion for music, friendship, and the humanities.
Thanks David, we have our job cut out for us - to carry on your legacy.
– Joan Cavicchi
Like many other friends and members of our chorus, I am overcome with grief at David's passing, but warmed by the feelings of admiration and love we all share for him.
One thing that I will always remember from the Pangea dinners is that David was a living witness to some amazing 20th century; I very much enjoyed talking with him about New York during the FDR era, and he could recall personally some of the now-famous events that took place during that time: the WPA public works projects, Diego Rivera's offending mural in Rockefeller Center, labor unrest, the plane that crashed into the Empire State building, etc. As a non-American with textbook knowledge of these events, I was always listening with great interest.
Despite having witnessed a bloody and frustrating 20th century with ample evidence that we humans are bound to repeat our past mistakes, David always retained his warm humanism and never turned cynical - this is his biggest legacy for me.
– Christian Habeck
I think back to the days of my youth, when I enrolled in a course at the New School entitled, “This Is Music,” which was offered by David some thirty years ago. It was the beginning of my life-long love affair with classical music. David had invited the students in the class to audition for his chorus, and I, who had sung in a chorus before, decided to try out. When David realized I could not sight read, I was denied the opportunity to audition. My disappointment was short lived, as I enjoyed immensely the opportunity to listen and appreciate the experience of music.
Some years ago, I visited David after a concert at Carnegie Hall and had the opportunity to tell him how much he had contributed to “turning me” onto classical music. He was delighted and beamed his warm smile.
I will long remember David Randolph as an inspirational educator, who had contributed to my well being and the culture of our City.
– Marilyn Widrow
I have been remiss in my efforts to honor David; it has taken far too long to put into words the profound impact this great man had on me.
From the beginning I knew I had found a musical home in The St. Cecilia Chorus. David was obsessed with every detail of music-making and determined not to settle for anything less than what he wanted from the Chorus. “I cannot give up, I will not give up!” was his mantra when we would forget a dynamic or mispronounce a word. Another favorite was “let the record show that on this day, at this hour, we got that pianissimo perfectly”. David’s insistence that we do our best taught me that the music counted, and if the music counted, then the Chorus counted. There was just something so right about his musical sensibilities and those beautiful conducting hands! What a great gift it was to learn from and perform with him.
Lest I leave the impression that David was an unremitting task master, I have to say how much we all relished his sense of humor and ready laugh. There was always a slight pause after someone would shout out a comment, and then David would start to grin and even hold his belly as he laughed. He used lots of humor in his conducting, too, dancing around the podium until someone noticed, asking us to sing the Hallelujah Chorus like Jimmy Durante, telling stories like “to be or not to be – dat’s actink”! Many of us wrote down his signature phrases, quips and exhortations in the margins of our scores. I don’t know about anyone else but I am retiring these familiar and trustworthy documents to protect these notations from the eraser.
Only in the past year did I begin to get to know David a bit socially. We lived in the same neighborhood and often my husband would say he had a “sighting” of David power walking wearing headphones, shorts and black high socks! My husband truly admired David as a man and musician, and especially aspired to his happy, healthy longevity.
After Mildred died, we were able to have several dinners with David in various combinations including Sherry and Doris. One night in particular, Doris and I had a lovely dinner with David at a “too noisy” local restaurant. As we were leaving he asked us if we would like to see the orchestral score of the Sea Symphony. Indeed we would! We went back to his apartment and started to sight sing right along with his recording and the incredible score (only two measures per page!). Sometime between 2:30 and 3:00am Doris and I were about to drop, but David, ever the night owl, was still bursting with energy! I will always cherish my memory of that evening of uninhibited music making.
It was shocking to learn that David had retired and I was dumbstruck by his kindness in holding back this news until after our spring concert. Distraught, I sent him a message that the Chorus would move heaven and earth to sing with him again when he regained his strength. We would arrange something, somehow. It was not to be, but I hope that knowing we all cared so much helped him in his final days. One thing I am certain about, David would be amazed and proud of all we have collectively accomplished. He did not want us to wallow or resist the inevitable passing of the torch to a new conductor.
My hope now is that we remain together, continue to grow and prosper, and that we prove ourselves to be the resilient, determined and magnificent Chorus that David taught us to be. We are, after all, the living testaments to his legacy of decency and fine musicianship.
Thank you, David, for teaching me the music.
– Caryn Cosentini
The Masterwork Psalm
by Robert (Bob) Scott, 1980
David is my maestro:
I shall not rush.
He maketh me to sit down at intermission.
He leadeth me through quiet passages.
He restoreth my tempo.
He leadeth me in the paths of good diction for my own sake.
Yea, though I walk through all the states of the South, I will not say “tyew”:
For thou art looking at me.
Thy glares and thy gestures correct me.
Thou preparest jokes and clowning in the presence of the orchestra.
Thou anointest my singing with praise.
My performance runneth over.
Surely raves and applause shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in the halls of Carnegie forever.
– Mary McQueen Alford
I loved David and Mildred .... very, very much .... and always will.
– Ray Gates
David Randolph has the knack of getting a huge amateur chorus to sing with the lightness and clarity of a professional group one-fifth its size.
– Robert Sherman
Mr. Randolph is a sound and experienced conductor, and he understands the traditions of Messiah better than most musicians.
– Harold C. Schonberg
The St. Cecilia Chorus and Orchestra, under the direction of David Randolph, presented a strong performance of [the Brahms Requiem] in Avery Fisher Hall. The massive chorus had been very well prepared, and the results were evident in both enunciation and balance.
– Patrick J. Smith
David Randolph, the conductor, kept the choral texture light in many places, and took brisk tempos when text and music permitted. He varied interestingly by the use of color contrasts.
Mr. Randolph's Messiah could stand as a good model.
The performances were conducted with devotion and authority by David Randolph; one particularly admired the crisp, persuasive playing he summoned from The St. Cecilia Orchestra.
The following weekend brought out the indefatigable Randolph for Bach's Christmas Oratorio. Randolph knows the music so well, as in the case of Messiah, that his cues are perfectly secure, his gestures go beyond tempo and accent to form whole phrases, factors often omitted when conductors perform polyphonic music with instruments and voices.
– The Music Journal
The cumulative impact of Randolph's emotional involvement with this immense work has been transferred to my spirit. As I write this, the glow of his powerful interpretation still warms me. It is an experience one never really forgets.
– Albert Cohen, Asbury Park Press
No conductor today can be more intimately familiar with Messiah than Randolph. Randolph's mastery of all this intricacy is, by now, positively humbling.
– Gannet (Westchester) Newspapers
With brass and percussion scattered throughout Carnegie Hall … the mere control exerted by the conductor was awesome. Of infinitely greater importance was the fact that Randolph's insightful conception [of the Berlioz Requiem] was fully realized in a profoundly moving performance that will be treasured long by every member of the attentive and enthusiastic throng that filled every seat in the hall.
– Byron Belt, Newhouse News
David Randolph's St. Cecilia Chorus and Orchestra brought Haydn's profoundly beautiful, moving and exalting St. Cecilia Mass to Carnegie Hall. The dynamic conductor, his splendid chorus and orchestra, paid handsome tribute to their namesake, providing one of the season's most rewarding musical events.
– Byron Belt, Newhouse News
It was in sum a masterfully conceived and conducted Messiah. It may also be the only Messiah which can achieve this level of clarity and impact simultaneously and should be required hearing for any student or lover of this immortal classic.
– Albert H. Cohen, The News Tribune
One of the best Messiahs undoubtedly is the one conducted by David Randolph.
– Ron Eyer, The New York Daily News
Not only did Randolph masterfully fuse the orchestral and choral sound into a unified force but he added spiritual dimension to this immortal classic.
– Joan Sealy, The New York News World
Randolph does not conduct the [Mozart] Requiem; he celebrates it. Mozart's relatively seldom performed C Minor Mass was deeply impressive, thanks to the joyous entrances of the magnificently disciplined chorus, the excellent performance and David Randolph's impressive power.
– Egon Stadelman, New Yorker Staats-Zeitung
During the holiday week, we got to hear Bach's Christmas Oratorio by The St. Cecilia Chorus and its Orchestra under the leadership of its brilliant musicologist, David Randolph ... the audience was swept along by the brilliant sound of the chorus. Under Randolph and his musicians the notes were transformed into life.
The work's beauty was intensified by the inspired guidance of David Randolph. ... Randolph finds something new in each of his concerts that he gives with his chorus, his orchestra, and with his first-class soloists.
– Egon Stadelman, New Yorker Staats-Zeitung
If you want to hear Messiah done with a grandeur and style that would please Handel himself, go hear David Randolph conduct. Randolph may know this oratorio better than any conductor. From beginning to end, [the performance] is marked by the magisterial stamp of David Randolph. In a unique way The Messiah is his piece.
There are times that Randolph convinces me that he is some kind of a genius. Few conductors are so free and spontaneous with Handel's highly formal and conventional music, yet at the same time, so faithful to the score and to period practices. Under his direction, [the music] came robustly alive, without the sacrifice of sensitivity and the work's sacred character. It was a pleasure from start to finish.
Some two decades ago, Randolph knocked the critics and musicologists on their ears by restoring to Handel's masterpiece his original chamber orchestration and by training the chorus to sing in authentic Baroque style – clear textures, bright colors, sprightly tempos. His "innovations" later were adopted by many choral directors and are, more or less, "the rule" today.
– Michael Redmond, The Star-Ledger
During some 20 years of daily reviewing the New York cultural scene, few organizations gave this choral fanatic greater pleasure than did David Randolph's St. Cecilia Chorus and Orchestra.
Randolph's large chorus was beautifully trained, and sang with a secure, warm tone all evening, able to illumine the most gentle passages as well as the grander climaxes. The conductor's sense of style made each of the works a joy, but the Beethoven [Mass in C Major] rose to quite special levels of eloquence, particularly in the radiant, gentle closing Agnus Dei. Through the years Randolph has mastered orchestral conducting as surely as his long admired choral expertise. The results are almost always musically alive and enjoyable.
– Byron Belt
David Randolph's was the most compelling performance of the work this listener has ever heard. It was drama, pure and simple ... the most exciting and moving Messiah I have heard to date.
– Paul Somers
Conductors have been known to get old. Even music critics have been reliably reported to age – with more or less grace than conductors, depending. Yet it does appear that Randolph alone has discovered the musical fountain of youth. Randolph's interpretations retain an inimitable vigor, freshness and punch. One suspects that this conductor has forgotten more repertory than many of his colleagues will ever know. There's a point in Randolph's interpretation, of course. He evidently conceives of Mozart's Requiem as a dramatic work, and one is inclined to agree with him.
– Michael Redmond