R. Douglas Sheldon ’63
2000 Bell Ringer Award
Tucked away in the College Archives is a now yellowed clipping from the Oneonta, N.Y., Star.
It is dated March 26, 1962, and its headline proclaims, “Sidney Youth to Direct Famed Choir.” The said Sidney youth was you, of course, and the famed choir was Hamilton’s. The newspaper went on to report that you would be returning to your hometown to conduct a concert to be held in the auditorium of your old high school, where you had been a baritone soloist in its choir and drum major of its band. The account concluded with, “Mr. Sheldon is the first student director in the history of the Hamilton College Choir.” Thirty-eight years later, you are still ardently committed not only to making music but making it happen, and you remain to this day, we are delighted to say, a musical presence on this Hill.
You once observed that your first Bach B minor mass with John Baldwin “opened for me the world of music, which has since governed my whole life.” It was Hamilton’s then choir director who chose you while still a sophomore to conduct the Choir with its 75 male voices strong. And in your senior year, you also served as concert manager, taking the Choir out on tour and putting up with the propensity of buses to get lost or break down, all out of dedication to music and inspired by that effervescent pied piper, John.
A year after your graduation in 1963, you returned to the Hill to direct the Choir in John’s absence as a visiting instructor in music. Next, you began utilizing your managerial skills as a booking representative for Columbia Artists Management. You later became vice president and artists manager for the firm, and eventually head of the Sheldon Management Division. Through more than 30 years in the realm of classical music, you have managed some of the world’s preeminent artists and ensembles, and today, as the firm’s senior vice president, you count among your numerous clientele the New York and Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestras, the Vienna Symphony, the Boys Choir of Harlem, and such soloists as Anne-Sophie Mutter and Marilyn Horne.
For many years, you have also remained personally engaged as music director and conductor of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Perth Amboy, NJ, and, on occasion, as guest conductor with the University Glee Club of New York. In addition, some two decades ago you joined with John Baldwin, your teacher and lifelong mentor, to form the alumni reunion choir. Each year since then, you have rearranged your demanding schedule to return to Hamilton and conduct it with gusto and panache. In helping to establish a splendid Hamilton tradition, and now faithfully carrying it on in John’s absence, you continue to enrich the musical life of College Hill.
Citation presented by
Alumni Association President
June 3, 2000