Charles P. Richardson, 32, music instructor, singer

May 26, 1999|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Charles Percell Richardson, conductor of the Baltimore School for the Arts chorus and a leading local tenor, died Thursday at home in the Mount Vernon section of Baltimore. He was 32.

A cause of death has not been established. He had suffered a stroke nearly 18 months ago, but continued to teach.

Mr. Richardson had sung with the Baltimore Opera Company and was a member of the Baltimore Symphony Chorus and the Concert Artists of Baltimore.

"He was a beautiful lyric tenor," said Tom Hall, music director of the Baltimore Choral Arts Society. "He had a natural affinity for the art -- he started right out of the gate as a young man. His talent was striking and remarkable."

Mr. Hall recalled that Mr. Richardson, newly graduated from the School for the Arts, held the attention of a room full of Baltimore musicians at a Christmas party.

"He was the youngest person there and sat at a piano and played," Mr. Hall said. "He amazed the whole party."

Born in Baltimore, Mr. Richardson grew up in Northwood and attended Chinquapin Middle School before the School for the Arts. He also studied at the Peabody Conservatory, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and New York University.

He first gained musical recognition as a choir boy at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church on St. Paul Street.

As a student at the School for the Arts, he performed in school productions and attracted notice from his teachers.

"We've had a lot of talented students through here over the years," said Chris Ford, head of the school's music department. "Charles was on a par with any of them -- and he had so many talents. He sang, could direct a chorus and play the piano so beautifully."

Mr. Ford said that Mr. Richardson was much in demand by local singers as their accompanist.

His voice, described by associates as a fine, clear tenor, made him popular at local churches, where he sang at Sunday services, weddings and funerals.

"He was always in demand to sing the song `Take Him Home' from `Les Miserables,' " recallled Mr. Ford.

Mr. Richardson performed in "Porgy and Bess" at the Melbourne Opera Company in Melbourne, Australia. He also performed at the Spoleto Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy.

He sang with the Morgan State University Choir and performed at Carnegie Hall and the White House. He also toured with the UMBC Camerata in Germany, Italy and Switzerland.

In 1992, he joined the faculty of the Baltimore School for the Arts and became conductor of its chorus two years later. Earlier this month, he led 100 students in a performance of Igor Stravinsky's "Mass."

"He was a tremendous teacher who was devoted to developing each child," said Mr. Ford, who added that many former students attended Mr. Richardson's funeral services yesterday.

He is survived by his parents, Roosevelt and Annie Richardson of Baltimore; his sister, Mylika Richardson of Pikesville; and his maternal grandparents, Eddie and Luvenia Crest of Baltimore.

Pub Date: 5/26/99

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