Singer Found Dead In Randolph, after Concert

Front Page / Aug. 25, 2005 12:00am EDT

Singer Found Dead In Randolph, after Concert

Singer Found Dead In Randolph, after Concert

Musicians and supporters of the Central Vermont Chamber Music Festival (CVCMF) were stunned to learn that tenor Martin Dillon died Sunday morning in Randolph. He was found dead, in the back yard of a Highland Avenue residence, about 12 hours after his August 20 concert on the Chandler Music Hall stage.

The 48-year-old Dillon, one of five musicians in Saturday night’s chamber concert, had been staying at the home of Laura Morris during the past week. Morris found him, face down, in the back yard at about 8 a.m. Sunday morning, according to Randolph Police Chief Jim Krakowiecki. A longtime volunteer at Chandler and a member of the CVCMF board, Morris regularly hosts performers on a volunteer basis.

Krakowiecki said there was "no appearance of anything suspicious." He said that an autopsy and a toxicology report had been ordered, because the death was untimely.

Dillon "did have some medical issues," and some of his co-performers recalled that he had looked "a little flushed" Saturday night, the chief added. Dillon may have stepped outside, early Sunday morning, to get some air, Krakowiecki surmised.

The news was especially shocking to those, including Central Vermont Chamber Music Festival Director and cellist Peter Sanders, who had performed with Dillon, and then spent several hours with him, post-performance, having dinner.

Sanders said Tuesday that he met Dillon two years ago, when they collaborated on a CD recording of songs by German composer Robert Kahn, whose works were suppressed by the Nazi regime. Dillon, who was also a music professor at Rutgers University, had been credited with reintroducing Kahn’s music to audiences here and in Europe. At the time of his death, Dillon was planning to record his third CD of Kahn’s songs.

Sanders invited Dillon to bring Kahn’s music to this year’s chamber music festival, because Sanders was himself so taken with Kahn’s "very beautiful, sort of Brahmsian melodies."

According to Sanders, Saturday night marked the first time that Kahn’s "Sieben Lieder aus Jungbrunnen" (Seven Songs from the Fountain of Youth) had been performed in the U.S. It also marked that first time, in its 13-year-history, that a vocal piece had been included in the CVCMF’s program.

Sanders, his wife Basia Danilow, violinist, and pianist Cameron Grant, performed the piece with Dillon Saturday night.

All week, as the musicians rehearsed and performed together, Dillon had enthused about the festival, and his first visit to Vermont, Sanders said.

Following a post-concert reception at the music hall, and dinner at a Randolph Center home, Sanders and Danilow dropped Dillon off at Morris’s Highland Avenue home, at about 1 a.m., Sanders said.

In their parting comments Dillon again stressed to Sanders and Danilow how wonderful—and relaxed—this concert experience had been, Sanders recalled.

Police Chief Krakowiecki said that Dillon left Morris a note, at about 1:30 a.m., reminding her that he’d be leaving Randolph Sunday morning by train.

Randolph police and White River Valley Ambulance responded to Morris’s 8 a.m. call. Krakowiecki said that Dillon had apparently been dead for some time, and rescue workers did not attempt resuscitation. His parents, from Ohio, were immediately contacted, Krakowiecki said.

Sanders said Tuesday that he plans to dedicate one of the pieces performed at this Saturday’s concert to Dillon.

By Sandy Cooch

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