History of The Northern Delaware Society

NDOS Medallion

NDOS (en-dose) as it is affectionately called by its members and others “in the know” was formed in 1970 by Robert Dilworth, President and Founder of the Dickinson Theatre Organ Society, and a group of singers, several of whom are still singing with the chorus today.  The express purpose was to use the Dickinson Kimball Theatre Organ in a performance of Handel’s Messiah.  Area church choirs were contacted and nearly 200 singers united to prepare and participate in the grand performance.  Conductor Dr. Robert King and organist Stoddard Smith were hired, and the concert was a tremendous success.  A spring performance of Brahms’ Reqiuem under the baton of Dr. John H. Duddy was planned, and the long and wonderful history of NDOS began.  Each year the NDOS Board of Directors would choose a major work for the spring concert.  The annual December performance of Messiah was a standard.  Conductors were chosen for each work and then paired with their favorite organists. In 1983 the husband and wife team of Calvin Bourgeault (who had conducted three previous performances) and Sheila Grady Bourgeault was brought on board as permanent artistic directors and conductors.  After 35 seasons, Sheila Bourgeault Dowdy retired as artistic director of NDOS in May 2018. Dr Mark Reagan directed the 2018/2019 season to great acclaim; he resigned in the summer of 2019 after taking a position on the West Coast. We now welcome Rob Kennan, a former soloist and accompanist for NDOS, to the conductor’s podium.

As the chorus has changed over the years you see today a smaller, consistent, caring, totally dedicated ensemble.  Among our ranks are working and retired visual and performing artists, medical professionals, educators, engineers, business people, homemakers, students, and countless others who love to sing larger scale choral works.  Nearly every member of this chorus sings with at least one other local church or community choir as well.  The NDOS no-audition policy, begun at the group’s founding, continues, bringing in singers who love the art and prepare diligently to present quality, traditional choral music of the highest level.  

Now beginning our 50th season, we continue to be totally self-supporting, and should you be so inclined to help us financially, we would be deeply grateful.   We truly appreciate your support attending our concerts, introducing us to your friends and families, and contributing financially as you are so moved and able.  We look forward to welcoming you again for the 2019/2020 season with our new director as we celebrate our first 50 years and move into the next chapter of our story.

Singing with NDOS

NDOS rehearses on Sunday afternoons, usually from 3pm to 5pm at the Parish Hall of St. James Episcopal Church Mill Creek, 2106 St. James Road (just off the Kirkwood Highway), Wilmington.  The Parish Hall is across the road from the church.  NDOS is a non-audition chorus and welcomes new members - contact us if you are interested in singing!

Artistic Staff

Robert Kennan, Artistic Director

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Robert (Rob) Kennan is active as a pianist and organist, director, hornist, composer/arranger, singer, and private music instructor in the northern Delaware area. He currently works with the University of Delaware, West Chester University, Brandywine School District, Red Clay School District, Qvinctus, Delaware Choral Arts, Wilmington Handbell Ensemble and CoroAllegro, having previously served Wilmington Children’s Chorus, and Opus One. Mr. Kennan is the Director of Music and Organist at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Wilmington, where he directs children, youth and adult vocal choirs, as well as handbell choirs, orchestra, and worship band. Rob is the Delaware Director of the Joyful Noise Chorus for adults with disabilities. He has played horn locally with the Wilmington Community Orchestra, Brandywine Pops Orchestra, Newark Symphony, and Diamond State Concert Band, previously playing with a number of professional organizations such as the Dallas Brass. He holds his bachelor’s degree from Shenandoah University and a master’s degree from the University of North Texas. He has been a musician and educator in a number of states and a member of various boards, including The Music Educator’s National Conference, American Guild of Organists, American Choral Director’s Association, Handbell Musicians of America, Joyful Noise, Wilmington Handbell Ensemble, and Valley Educational Center for Creative Arts.


 Lori Geckle, Accompanist

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Lori Geckle has been accompanying choirs and soloists (instrumental and vocal) for more than 40 years. She has been the accompanist for the University of Delaware Chorale; Schola Cantorum; and Concert Choir for several years and has worked with several school choirs throughout Delaware and Maryland. Lori also accompanies several UD vocal student recitals and juries. She also accompanies for the Deer Creek Chamber Choir (based near Baltimore) and has performed with the Delaware All-state Treble Choir for more than a dozen years. In her spare time, Lori enjoys reading, the beach, gardening, and enjoying time with family and friends.