Mary Cheney Gould plays the piano at her Brooksville home overlooking the Bagaduce River in the spring of 2014. Gould organized the Bagaduce Chorale in 1974. PHOTO BY CHARLES EICHACKER

Music community mourns “magical” Mary Cheyney Gould

BROOKSVILLE — At the close of every Bagaduce Chorale concert, past and present members join together to sing Peter C. Lutkin’s “Benediction.”

Before her death on Nov. 2 at the age of 91, Mary Cheyney Gould would lead the final piece, sung by the group that got its start in her living room 42 years ago.

“They [got] to stand and sing in the light of Mary and raise their voices to sing under her direction, and it’s a really beautiful thing,” said Bagaduce Chorale Director Bronwyn Kortge.

“We will always feel her presence deeply when we sing that,” she said. “That will be a part of our tradition as long as I’m around.”

Though the Chorale may sing “Benediction” without the wave of Gould’s hands, her impact on the music community is a high note for the Blue Hill Peninsula and beyond.

After permanently relocating to Brooksville from Ohio in 1973, Gould joined a chorus in Belfast. Tired of driving back and forth, Gould and a friend started their own chorus in her living room, which would become the 90-member Bagaduce Chorale.

Friends say she was a warm, loving and even a “magical” woman who brought the best out in people.

“She was a remarkable woman; very dedicated, and was so musically talented and so knowledgeable about music,” said East Blue Hill philanthropist Bob Marville, whose wife, Jan, sang in the choir. “People came to her that really couldn’t sing, and by God she made a singer out of them.”

In 1983, Gould co-founded the Bagaduce Music Lending Library along with longtime friend Marcia Chapman, who died in September.

“They collected some of the best music one can find — second to none,” Marville said.

The library started as a collection of friends’ sheet music in a garage and turned into a renowned nonprofit that lends rare music around the world.

“She was the sort of person who was unbelievably energetic and creative — a spark plug who made things happen,” said Ellie Horwitz, whose father was Gould’s longtime piano partner. “She made the Chorale happen; she made the music library happen. She just had a presence and gift for drawing people together.”

Composer Paul Sullivan met Gould at the library when he moved to Brooklin 30 years ago and she became what he called his “musical mother.”

“I think I knew where the Bagaduce Library was before I knew where the grocery store was,” he said.

“For all of us, the musicians around, [Gould] was incredibly inspirational and wise and compassionate and fun,” he said.

While Gould’s death is “a huge loss” for the music community, Sullivan said it will also inspire.

“I think [the music community] will have a rebirth and a new energy effect because people will be so grateful to her and mindful of her,” Sullivan said. “I think that we will all do better as the musical community of the Peninsula in her honor. She will inspire us all.”

Taylor Bigler Mace

Taylor Bigler Mace

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Taylor covers sports and maritimes for the Islander. As a native of Texas, she is an unapologetic Dallas Cowboys fan. [email protected]
Taylor Bigler Mace

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