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For the love of music: Beloved professor leaves enduring gift

Elaine Dahl St. Vincent

Elaine Dahl St. Vincent loved music and sharing it with others.

St. Vincent, who died in 2020, served on the College’s faculty from 1947 to 1980 and chaired the music department from 1957 to 1979, influencing hundreds of students.

That legacy continues today with an estate gift from St. Vincent and her husband, Edwin, for the performing arts at Randolph.

The Edwin H. and Elaine Dahl St. Vincent Music Fund will be used to bring to campus outstanding musicians, including performers, teachers in residence, master class instructors, and composers.

“It further strengthens the resources we have for what we offer the students and what we offer the community,” said Emily Yap Chua, chair of the performing arts department and director of the Guest Artist Series. “It really facilitates a robust guest artist series. We can bring in a wider range of artists, both in the instruments and styles of music they play.”

It also allows guest artists to have longer residencies and more interaction with students.

“They’re here on campus for a longer period of time and have more opportunities to engage with students and the community,” Chua said.

The funds were used earlier this fall for a guest concert featuring fiddler Andrew Finn Magill and three collaborators.

The College will honor St. Vincent with a dedication concert in January, featuring pianist Soyeon Kate Lee. Like St. Vincent, Lee is a Juilliard alum.

“I really do think Elaine would approve,” Chua said. “She loved the piano, and she just had a really high standard for what she expected of students and the kind of music she wanted to share with them. Soyeon Kate Lee really exemplifies what Elaine valued in her teaching and her playing.”

St. Vincent, a Chicago native, began her professional career while completing her certificate in piano at Juilliard. She worked as a collaborative pianist and also served as organist for several churches in New York City.

She later earned a master’s degree in musicology from Boston University and taught piano at Green Mountain Junior College in Vermont.

At the College—where she taught piano, music history, music literature, and form and analysis—St. Vincent was the first female faculty member to be awarded the prestigious Gillie Larew Award for Distinguished Teaching.

She also performed often, both on campus and off. After retiring, she would return to teach piano for those on sabbatical and also organized the College’s first women’s studies program.

“Elaine and Edwin St. Vincent both embraced the arts and touched the lives of so many students during their combined 65 years of teaching and mentoring, and now, their example and legacy will endure in perpetuity through their amazing generosity,” said Farah Marks, vice president for institutional advancement. “Their gift will cultivate the understanding of and appreciation for music at Randolph College for many years to come.”

This story appears in the Fall 2022 edition of Randolph College’s magazine, Vita Abundantior. 

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