Our History

Our History

The A Cappella Singers began as a double quartet in 1964, as part of the Natick Newcomers Club. We gave our first performance at a Mother and Daughter Banquet in 1965.  In 1975,  we incorporated as a non-profit in the State of Massachusetts and the US Department of Treasury recognized us as 501(c)(3) organization.  The group has continued to grow and evolve both musically and in size.  While we have members who have joined in the past year or two,  we have longer-term members including a few who belonged years ago and returned after a taking a break. In the words of our founder, Astrid Thalheimer, we are "a truly exciting organization."

The group performs with instrumental accompaniment as well as a cappella music. (In the early days, we could not afford an accompanist.) In the past, we have collaborated with the Women of the World (Berklee College of Music), New England Philharmonic, Simmons College, the Concord Orchestra, the Metrowest Symphony Orchestra, the Highland Glee Club and a guest performance at the Worcester Art Museum. The group sings occasionally at local venues such as Southwick's Zoo, Massachusetts Horticulture Society's  Festival of Trees, and assisted living facilities. We have a regular presence at the annual Natick Days sponsored by the Natick Department of Recreation and Parks  and the Natick Center Cultural District. We have gratefully received grants from the Natick Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency.

We are proud to have kept the music alive during the COVID Era. 

Past Directors and Emeritus Personnel

Astrid "Sandy" Thalheimer, Founding Director, 1963-1986

Astrid “Sandy” Hanson Thalheimer founded The A Cappella Singers choral group for treble singers in Metrowest Boston in 1961. She later served as music director for two local area churches. Always intellectually engaging, spirited, opinionated and caring of others, Sandy is missed and fondly remembered. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, studied at the graduate School of Psychology at Boston University, and later received instruction in music conducting. She was involved with the Handel & Haydn Society, The Masterworks Chorale, and the Master Singers. In 1973, Sandy reflected on the qualities of The A Cappella Singers:

"The uniqueness of this group of musically talented women lies in the fact that they are mothers, teachers, nurses, students and secretaries – women who have an active role in their homes and communities. Yet they join together and lend their voices to achieve a blend of purpose as well as sound. They are a body of people who care for one another in a way that is not common in our bustling society today. This is their unique quality. This unites them. It makes the A Cappella Singes larger than what is seen or heard."  [Read the full essay here.]

Kay Dunlap, 1985-1994

Jane Ring Frank, 1994-1997

Telmak (Peter) Gharibian, 1998

Sharon Brown, Music Director, 1999-2014

Sharon Brown has been a singer, conductor and teacher in the Boston area for over 25 years. She was on the voice faculty of Berklee College of Music where she taught vocal technique classes, The Musical Theater Workshop, vocal Pedagogy as well as private students. She has also taught at Simmons College, the Boston Conservatory and Northeastern University. Her performing credits as mezzo-soprano include many years with Boston Lyric Opera chorus. She also sung with Boston Academy, Intermezzo Chamber Opera, Salisbury Lyric Opera and sung oratorio with several orchestras in the area. As a conductor, she began and led the Boston Conservatory Women’s Chorus for seven years, and served as music director for the Fisk Memorial United Methodist Church in Natick for twenty years. She also conducted the Simmons Chorale for four years. She holds the BM and MM degrees in Vocal Performance from the Boston Conservatory where she studied with Elisabeth Phiney.

George A. Sargeant, Director Emeritus, 2014-2023

George A. Sargeant directed the A Cappella Singers from 2014 to 2023, including the challenges of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Previously, he served as accompanist for the ACS from 1999-2005, and 2012-2014. A distinguished organist in New England, George is the Associate Organist and Choirmaster at Boston’s historic Old South Church, Copley Square, and a staff organist at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Boston’s West End. He has held positions at Church of the Covenant (Boston), Memorial Congregational Church (Sudbury) and Fisk Memorial United Methodist Church (Natick). The ACS Board of Directors conferred Director Emeritus to George in December 2023.

George began studying organ while he was in high school. He holds a Bachelor of Music, Ashland University, and a Master of Sacred Music, Boston University. His organ teachers included Charles Hickman, John Gilbert, John Ferris and Peter Sykes. 

Follow George (@gasorg) on YouTube and X (formerly Twitter) to hear organ performances and for his adventures as a storm-chaser and weather-spotter.

Randy McGee, D.A., 2024 - present

Randy McGee become our Artistic Director in January 2024.  Read his profile on our Bios page.

River Maria Kaplun (they/them), Accompanist Emeriti, 2015-2019

River Maria Kaplun accompanied the A Cappella Singers from 2015 to 2019. The ACS Board of Directors conferred Accompanist Emeritus in May 2019.  

They were born in Leningrad, USSR (now St. Petersburg, Russia), in a Jewish family, and began their education in music there at the age of six. They trained as a classical pianist and performed at concert halls around the region, in Riazan’ Oblast, and in Abkhazia. From 1987 to 1990, they attended the Rimsky-Korsakov Music College of the Leningrad State Conservatory.

In 1991, chased by the rabid antisemitism of a collapsing civilization, River and their family left Russia, just as the Soviet Union was about to break apart in the throes of perestroika, and came to the U.S. as refugees. Because of a wrist injury, River could not continue as a concert pianist in America and, after learning English, began their higher education from scratch at a community college in their home state of Pennsylvania. They earned a Master of Theological Studies degree from Harvard Divinity School and have spent most of their career teaching religious studies and philosophy to college students. They have also worked as a medical interpreter for Russian-speaking patients at Philadelphia hospitals, a book review editor for the Journal of Ecumenical Studies, and a liturgical pianist and accompanist.

In 2013 River moved to Massachusetts and now takes care of their family and writes under the pen name River Adams. They are the author of many short stories, essays, and a biography, There Must Be YOU: Leonard Swidler’s journey to faith and dialogue (Wipf and Stock, 2014). Their debut novel, The Light of Seven Days, was published by Delphinium Books in 2023.

Their website is https://riveradamsauthor.weebly.com