Former President of the Telluride Choral Society
On Thursday, Jan. 17, at 6:30 p.m., Dr. David Lingle, 58, former artistic director of the Telluride Choral Society for eight years, passed away peacefully in Sandwich, Mass. This unbelievably talented member of the Telluride community recently discovered he was in the final stages of bladder cancer. He had just assumed a new music director position at the First Parish church in Brewster, Mass. In a very short period of time, he had found a home where his talents were adored. He made his transition, surrounded by friends in Brewster. David leaves his two children, John and Haley, along with his ex-wife, Jill, who lives in Tulsa, Okla. They were able to visit with David shortly before his passing. David also had two sisters, Beverly Psenicka and Audrey Howze.
David was a native of northern Wisconsin; he received his masters in music theory and composition from the University of Tulsa and a doctoral degree in conducting from the University of Oklahoma. He composed and conducted music for a national broadcast entitled "A Service of Light," which aired on the ABC Television Network, worked with Broadway and television personalities and prepared choruses for the Tulsa Philharmonic, Oklahoma Sinfonia and the Tulsa Ballet. In addition to his love of choral music in nearly every style, David worked extensively in both musical theater and as the musical director of Telluride Christ Presbyterian Church. This afforded him the opportunity to conduct everything from You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown to festival settings of the Bernstein "Chichester Psalms" and the Mozart Solemne Vespers. He was an unabashed admirer of John Rutter. The Telluride Choral Society took great pride in performing dozens of Rutter pieces, with Mass of the Children being one of our favorites.
While in Telluride from 2002 to 2009, David conducted all of the Choral Society groups. He expanded programming with the addition of KidSing and MasterWorks performances and was the music director for many of the Telluride Repertory Theater productions, including Guys and Dolls,"Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Chicago and Sound of Music, as well as youth theatre productions through the Sheridan Arts Foundation and the Telluride Public Schools. Jade Graham, a longtime Tulsa and Telluride friend, said, “David was professional and musically brilliant; yet he shared that with anyone willing to work with passion and trust the process. Personally, I loved how he could lead me as a performer to that indescribable place, where you can surprise yourself and experience the pure joy of being a piece of creation bigger than yourself or your talents. That is rare. I love him and miss him dearly."
David left us with an understanding of the importance of music, humor and how to discover your own voice. He valued performers, whatever their skill level, and he brought out the best of everyone, adults or children, with his gentle demeanor.
On a personal note, my life was changed by David. He took me from someone who couldn’t even read music to becoming a chamber singer, performing not only in Telluride but in Durango and other towns in southwestern Colorado and New Mexico.
Learning to sing in a group causes you to understand the dynamics of putting yourself forward as a member of that group and the value of being a team performer. Each voice is important but no one voice more important than the total group. One of my favorite memories was helping to bring the San Juan Symphony Orchestra with Arthur Post, the Durango Choral Society with Linda Mack and the Telluride Choral Society with David, to the stage of the Palm Theatre. There were almost 200 musicians on the stage, for an evening that none of us will ever forget.
When David passed, he left behind a part of himself with all of us who performed with him and knew him. Upon hearing of his passing, Eileen Burns, a close friend of David’s, said, “My hope is that when he departed, his skills passed quietly on to someone else who would be able to share them with the world.” Ginny Fraser said quite simply, “David was more than a great person, he was a dear friend and whenever I sing, I will remember him.” Deb Stevens wrote, “May your spirit soar and dance to unimaginable heights of music. May your soul rejoice and sing evermore.”
His impact upon Telluride and the cultural arts community are part of Telluride’s history.