1995 Swan Award Winner: Marjorie Remington


Marjorie Color Portrait webMusical opportunities have been plentiful for Marjorie Remington Richard from Kindergarten on where she directed the class playing their percussion instruments at Lafayette School in Salt Lake City. After moving to Berkeley in 1934, in two years she began to accompany her 5th-grade class at the piano daily as they sang. She sang in glee clubs in jr. high, then sang and accompanied glee and a cappella classes directed by Eunice “Mama” Skinner at Berkeley High. Also, at Berkeley High, Marjorie studied music history and theory with Dorah O’Neill. She did so well that when she entered Mills College in fall of 1943, she was able to pass Dr. Howard Brubeck’s Theory Class by exam and go on to study four part counterpoint and orchestration with Darius Milhaud her second year.

After her junior year at Mills, Marjorie went off to serve a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Upon returning, she decided to attend U.C. Berkeley where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Music, with a minor in English. Soon after she was married, she taught fourth grade in Utah for one year, returned to Berkeley, and then took twelve years off to start raising her five children. During this time she was active teaching piano and playing organ in church, accompanying soloists and a male chorus in Hayward, CA, and joining the AGO (American Guild of Organists).

After taking time to start her family Marjorie returned to teaching. Because she didn’t have a credential, she started out substituting for a second grade class. The San Lorenzo district liked her teaching, and sent her back to complete work for a credential, taking a class every semester at CSUH where she went on to earn a Master’s Degree, writing the History of the Oakland Symphony as her thesis. While studying at CSUH, she met Dr. Rudolph Saltzer, accompanied his Alameda County Girls Honor Chorus, and also learned about ACDA and CMEA. By that time she was teaching at Encinal High in Alameda. She joined ACDA and CMEA and took her first group to a CMEA Choral Festival. At this festival Ginger Covert Colla judged the singers and told her altos that “Altos are really chicken sopranos” and she realized that she needed some real training as a choral director!

Marjorie began attending every workshop, conference and convention. At this time, the California ACDA decided to divide the state so that people could attend events without traveling so far. She became close friends with Charlene Archibeque and, with Charlene’s help, was nominated for Northern CA Chairman of ACDA, and was voted in. She played a big role in lobbying to have Charlene hired at SJSU, and everyone knows the kind of affect that Charlene has had on California choral music ever since.

Marjorie was privileged to have a summer session at Occidental College with Howard Swan, another summer session at SJSU with Charlene, and other workshops and seminars. After several years, when her own singers were receiving Superior and Command Performance ratings, she was asked to be an adjudicator for CMEA. She served happily in this capacity in Northern and Central California for over thirty years until 2007. One of her students is now on Broadway, a number are performing in grass roots musicals, and several have become teachers and conductors, even composing and arranging music. Additionally, she I taught choral music for seven years at UOP’s Pacific Jr. Summer Music Camp under the direction of Dr. Dave Goedeck.

She has several publications that she contributed including her method of teaching interval sounds and appearance for sight reading in The Choral Arts Series for the American Book Company, published in 1974 (pp. 13–15) in the Director’s Handbook. Her summary report of the ACDA Western Division Conference, held at Rio Hondo College October 12 1968, appeared in the Choral Journal, January-February 1969, page 27.

In November 2014 Marjorie was eighty-nine years old. She has been involved in music performance for most of those years in one capacity or another. She still plays the piano and organ in church, accompanies singers and other instrumentalists, and plays solos and does some vocal coaching. She notes that “Music is the best way one can experience living!”