William Metcalfe, Cofounder of the Vermont Mozart Festival, Dies | Live Culture

William Metcalfe, Cofounder of the Vermont Mozart Festival, Dies

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William Metcalfe - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • William Metcalfe
William Metcalfe, who cofounded the Vermont Mozart Festival, and conducted the Oriana Singers and the Gilbert & Sullivan Singers of Vermont, died in Shelburne on November 22.  He was 86.

Metcalfe was born in Toronto, Ontario in 1935. He moved to Burlington in 1963 to become a professor of history and assistant director of Canadian studies at the University of Vermont, where he taught for 35 years.

He retired in 1998 as professor emeritus, having chaired both history and music — he cofounded the UVM Baroque Ensemble in 1965. He also served as director of Canadian studies, a subject on which he edited or co-edited several publications.



In 1974, Metcalfe cofounded the Vermont Mozart Festival with oboist and Juilliard School teacher Melvin Kaplan. The event, in its original incarnation, ran until 2010 and featured up-and-coming musicians, as well as established players.

Originally envisioned as a chance to hear top musicians playing the music of the festival's namesake in some of the most scenic Vermont venues — including the first-ever public show at Shelburne Farms — the Mozart Festival grew over the years. It was featured in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and on "CBS Sunday Morning."
Metcalfe also conducted the Oriana Singers, a choral vocal group he founded with his wife, Elizabeth, in 1981. The two stayed active in the ensemble until they stepped down in 2017; the group then became the Aurora Chamber Singers. In 2015, the Vermont Arts Council awarded both Metcalfes the Walter Cerf Medal for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts.

Donations in Metcalfe's memory can be made to the Vermont Youth Orchestra or the Cure Alzheimer's Fund. The family plans a memorial celebration in the spring.