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Handel Society of Dartmouth College

Artistic Director and Conductor: Robert P. Duff, D.M.A

Founded in 1807, the world’s oldest Handel Society and America’s first town-gown choral ensemble, the Handel Society of Dartmouth College strives to provide transformative choral experiences for audiences and its 100 singers. Its concerts feature world-renowned soloists, guest artists such as leading Bach authority Helmuth Rilling, and professional orchestras, as well as world premieres and commissioned works. Robert Duff, its conductor since 2004, also serves as Councilor to the New Hampshire Council on the Arts, and is the a past President of the Eastern Division of the American Choral Directors Association.

Handel Society at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome after singing High Mass on December 16, 2012.

The Handel Society at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome after singing High Mass on December 16, 2012.

Visit the Handel Society website.


Our Artistic Director and Conductor

BobNewRobert Duff conductor is in his eleventh year as the artistic director of the Handel Society of Dartmouth College. Duff is also on the faculty at Brandeis University, where he oversees the vocal program, conducts the Brandeis University Chamber Singers and University Chorus, and teaches conducting. Before coming to Dartmouth in 2004, he served on the faculties of Pomona College, Claremont Graduate University and Mount St. Mary’s College, and as the Director of Music for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, where he directed the music programs for nearly 300 parishes. He holds degrees in conducting, piano and voice from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Temple University and the University of Southern California, where he earned a doctorate of musical arts in 2000.

An active commissioner of new music, Duff has given several world premieres of works for both orchestral and choral forces. He has served as Councilor to the New Hampshire
Council on the Arts, and is the past President of the Eastern Division of the American Choral Directors Association.

Our Accompanist

Annemieke Spoelstra collaborative pianist was born in Kampen, The Netherlands, and started piano lessons with Joke Venhuizen at age seven. She studied classical piano at the Conservatory in Zwolle, The Netherlands, with Rudy de Heus, earning her degrees Docerend and Uitvoerend Musicus (Bachelor and Masters as performing artist) for soloist, chamber music and art song accompaniment. She later studied art song accompaniment at the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam as a duo with German tenor Immo Schröder. She has often been invited to serve as collaborative artist at conservatories and in national and international competitions. At age twenty-one, Spoelstra was first-prize winner at the Dutch National competition Young Music Talent Nederland for best accompanist. She was praised for her touch and coloring. In 1997, she was first-prize winner for Music Student of the Year for her final recital. The jury report wrote, “She shows great intellect in music pedagogy and is a sensible, great performer, with well-balanced programs.” In 2001 she was a finalist in Paris at the international Nadia and Lili Boulanger competition. Since January 2004, she has been a US resident living in Vermont. She performs solo, teaches piano at St. Michael’s College and at her studio, and coaches vocalists and instrumentalists for auditions, competitions and performance. Spoelstra serves as accompanist for the chorale at St. Michael’s College, and has accompanied the Vermont Youth Orchestra Choruses and the Thetford Chamber Singers. She has performed concerts in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Poland and the US.

Our Vocal Coach

Erma Mellinger, a Lecturer in Music at Dartmouth College, earned her Bachelor of Music degree with Highest Distinction from Northwestern University and her Master of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music where she earned both Teaching and Performance Awards. A professional singer, Erma Mellinger has performed leading roles with many of the country’s major opera companies including Cleveland Opera, the Dallas Opera, the Florida Grand Opera, the Fresno International Grand Opera, and the Opera Theater of Pittsburgh.





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