Sanford Dole is Artistic Director of Bay Choral Guild, a 45-voice community choir in Palo Alto, and Music Director of St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco.
Active in the Bay Area as a conductor, singer and composer for his entire adult life, Mr. Dole has performed with, and had his compositions performed by, many of the area’s leading ensembles. He was a member of the San Francisco Symphony Chorus for 23 seasons, and was that group’s Assistant Director from 1987-97. More recently, he was a member of Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and Chorale from 1998-2009 and appears on several recordings in oratorios by Handel. A founding member of the male vocal ensemble, Chanticleer, his arrangements have often been performed by the renown 12-man chorus as well as his commissioned work, “I Am With You,” set to a poem by Walt Whitman. Mr. Dole received his Bachelor and Masters degrees, in composition and conducting respectively, from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
His conducting credits include such major works as Handel’s Messiah, and Bach’s B Minor Mass and St. Matthew Passion, as well as many other choral and chamber ensemble concerts. In addition, he has prepared choruses for performances with the California Symphony and the Berkeley Symphony.
His voice can be heard in solos on recordings with Chanticleer and the Grace Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys, and his compositions appear on CD’s produced by Bay Choral Guild and St. Gregory’s Choir.
Besides many anthems composed for St. Gregory’s Choir, a cappella works composed for Bay Choral Guild include “Invitation to a Voyage” (2007) and “Peace on Earth” (2020), among others. Larger works include “Songs of Isaiah,” (2016) score for mixed chorus, strings and harp. Now available from PavanePublishing.com, this work was honored to be included in the prestigious Project Encore catalogue.
He will premiere a 40-minute cantata, “A Song for St. Cecilia,” based on the 1687 poem by John Dryden, in December 2022 with Bay Choral Guild. He is at work on a chamber opera, “Gertrude and Alice: Scenes from a Shared Life,” featuring a libretto by Brad Erickson. Another long-term project, also with alibretto by Mr. Erickson, is an opera based on the story, “The Caballaro’s Way,” by O. Henry.
Although currently on hiatus, Sanford Dole Ensemble, which was created in 1991, is dedicated to presenting new and rarely performed gems for vocal/instrumental ensemble. This group has presented programs of new works by various composers’ collectives as well as classics from the choral genre, varying in size to fit the needs of the repertoire. In 2009 SDE presented the American premiere of “Messyah,” London-based composer Paul Ayres’ take on Handel’s immortal classic, as well as commissioning it’s completion for performance the following year. Another commissioned work, “On the Third Day,” an Easter Oratorio by Robert Kyr, was premiered in 2011. Among many local premieres, Peter Scott Lewis’ “The Changing Light,” based on poems by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, written for SDE was performed in 2012. More recently, Sanford Dole Ensemble has produced unaccompanied choral concerts under the name North Star Vocal Artists, featuring many talented singers from Marin and Sonoma counties.