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.

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 48th 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 continued support attending in 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 this season.  It promises to be very exciting.

Singing with NDOS

NDOS rehearses on Sunday afternoons, usually from 2:30pm 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

Sheila photo, Oct 2015.JPG

SHEILA BOURGEAULT DOWDY Artistic Director and Conductor, received her Bachelor of Music Ed degree (voice major) and Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from Temple University where she was a voice student of Florence Berggren and a conducting student of Robert Page and Gail B. Poch. She has done additional graduate work at Westminster Choir College (of Rider University), West Chester University, and The Hartt School. As a choral vocalist, she sings with the professional choir of Christ Church Christiana Hundred and other organizations in the Wilmington area. As a member of the Temple University Concert Choir during her undergraduate and graduate studies, the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, and a member of Chorale Delaware and the Christ Church Choir, she has been privileged to sing under the batons of many of the world’s finest conductors of major orchestras and choruses. She credits those experiences with shaping her musical career.

Her conducting credits include serving as chorus master for five OperaDelaware productions, as Music Director or Assistant Music Director for four productions presented by The Brandywiners, Ltd at Longwood Gardens, and as Assistant Conductor of Chorale Delaware. She also directs the Kendal Retirement Community Singers. She is a member of the American Choral Directors Association, the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association, and the American Federation of Musicians, Local 21. She served on the administrative staff of the Curtis Institute of Music for two years, and she retired from classroom music education in 2004 after 33 years of teaching the best of students, most especially during her 31 wonderful years at Kennett High School in Kennett Square, PA. This season is Ms. Bourgeault Dowdy’s 35th year with NDOS.

Karen Markey, NDOS accompanist

KAREN L. MARKEY  Accompanist, officially joined the NDOS family as accompanist in the fall of 2008. She is the founder and was for eighteen years the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Kennett Symphony Children’s Chorus, which is now In Residence at West Chester University. Our audience was enchanted and thrilled when 35 of her KSCC singers performed John Rutter’s Mass of the Children and other works with NDOS in April 2006.

Ms. Markey is a retired music educator with thirty plus years of service in public education and eleven years in private schools; fourteen of those years were in the Music Education Department of West Chester University. She has served as organist/choir director of several churches throughout the Southeastern Chester County region. She is past-president and former treasurer of the Philadelphia Area Orff-Schulwerk Association and a career member of the Music Educators National Conference, Pennsylvania Music Educators Association, American Choral Directors Association, and the American Orff-Schulwerk Association.

Prior to her retirement she worked as a consultant in the development and execution of school choral and general music programs. She has conducted children’s honor choirs for various districts of PMEA and Maryland Music Educators. Her piano accomplishments are quite diverse as a soloist, as an accompanist for solo performers as well as for large groups, as a chamber ensemble player, and as a jazz pianist.