It is with great sadness of heart that we have to report the passing of our dear director,
(Mr. C / Cappy / Mr. Cappadonia) at 4:00pm, February 7, 2014.
He put up a valiant fight over these past few years and has now gone home to the God he so loved.
Our prayers and love go out to Bebe and the entire Cappadonia family.
Calling Hours, Dagon Funeral Home, 38 Church St., Hornell, NY 14843, (607) 324-3500, Tuesday, February 11th, 3 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Funeral, St. Ann's Church, 31 Elm Street, Hornell, Wednesday, February 12th, 11:00 a.m., reception to follow
Burial will be Thursday, February 13th, St. Patrick's Cemetery, Mt. Morris, NY.
The Lord bless him, the Lord keep him, make His face to shine upon him… And give him peace.
(Click,above -or CTL click- to download The Blessing of Aaron, one of C’s favorite tunes and our choir “theme song”)
50th Alumni Weekend Banquet - April 21, 2001
Knights of Columbus Hall, Hornell
Reprint of article that appeared in Transitions
newsletter for Alumni, Families of Students, and Friends of Alfred State College,
Volume 54 Number 2, Late Winter 2001. Reprinted by permission from the office
of Publications and the Alumni Association of Alfred State College.
Anthony “Cappy” Cappadonia
Celebrates 50 Years at Alfred State College by Cynthia Santora, Associate Director, Community Relations
Talent, dedication, commitment, loyalty, joy. When these characteristics meet
and meld, the result yields one Anthony “Cappy” Cappadonia, a blessed fixture
on the Alfred State College campus for the past 50 years. 50 years! In 1951,
one Tony Cappadonia arrived on the Alfred State College campus and brought joy
to the hills of Alfred, infusing them with the sound of music—both instrumental
and vocal. Cappy’s story begins in Mt. Morris, where he was raised in a largely
Italian neighborhood by loving and religious parents. What better start in life
for a future teacher? After serving his country overseas for three years during
World War II, Cappy returned to New York State where he determined he wanted
to study music (having been a trombone player at Mt. Morris High School) at
Ithaca College—and study he did! By attending classes straight through, including
summers, he finished his bachelor’s degree in three years and a master’s degree
in music at the same institution just three years after that. But while teaching
music in Savannah (NY ) High School, Cappy harbored a desire to teach at the
college level. “I remember vividly how I heard about the ‘Ag-Tech’ job,” he
recounts with a smile. “While I was doing my graduate work, I asked the dean
if he knew of any college-level teaching jobs. “’I just heard about one at the
Alfred Agricultural and Technical Institute,’ he told me. He arranged for an
interview, and I met with Paul B. Orvis, ASC’s fifth president, and Warren Bouck,
then-chairman, General Studies Division. They told me I’d be notified by telegram
in a day or two. And sure enough, a couple of days later, I got the word that
I had the job as instructor in the Music Department and director of the choral
and instrumental groups.” And the rest, as they say, is history! It’s a history
made up of hard work, success, and 50 years of memories. The College had hired,
the year prior to Cappy’s joining the faculty, a music teacher who helped start
the music program at the College, worked at Alfred for a year, and then resigned
his position. So the search began for a teacher of instrumental and vocal music.
Luckily, Cappy had earned a double major in college! For the next 15 years or
so, Cappy had command of all the musical groups at the College—instrumental
as well as vocal— sometimes adding up to as many as nine different musical entities.
Finally, in the mid-1960s, Cappy requested the addition of another “music person”
and was allowed to search for help. Enter Joe Canale, another familiar name
in the annals of Alfred State College musical history. Canale and Cappy had
attended Ithaca College together in the ’40s, and so Cappy retained directorship
of vocal music while Canale assumed leadership of instrumental music. Throughout
the years, Cappy has not only taught and directed the music he loves, but has
also served as an adjudicator for choral competitions, written articles and
been a reviewer for the Choral Journal, and conducted choral festivals for high
school students each spring for about 16 years. And never, in all these years,
has Cappy not found joy in what he does. “I’ve never burned out at all,” Cappy
boasts, despite a quadruple by-pass surgery five years ago. “I look forward
to each rehearsal and each performance.” Cappy, who admits to having mellowed
over the years, holds a philosophy which reflects his evolution. “I never call
an audition an audition anymore,” he laughs; “it makes students too nervous.
I call it voice classification. I put students through a series of exercises
to determine their range. But most importantly, I try to determine if they have
an ‘ear’ for music. Students can be taught to sing if they have pitch recognition.
“I was firmer in my youth. I looked for perfection. I’m a little softer now.
I still strive for the best—the best the students and I can do together, but
perfectionists are not happy people, so I’ve given up that quest,” he says with
a laugh. “I realize that the students are here, first and foremost, for an education.
After that, I ask for dedication and commitment to the choir. And I expect responsibility.
“I am a strong believer in student officers; they help determine the calendar
of concerts, compile the programs, create reports, etc. This, I believe, helps
them in more than just their music—it prepares them for life.” And most of them
have turned out pretty well! The joy Cappy experiences when he sees his students
grow— not only in their musical abilities, but also in their handling of responsibility,
is nearly palpable. “It’s always such a joy when the alums come back—and there
are so many that make it a point to return frequently and those who come every
month to practice for the annual alumni choir concert held each spring. I always
ask—first about their families and then about their careers. Many of them remark
on how the requirements of the choir (e.g. attendance policy, deadlines) have
helped them in their jobs. And many of them are very successful!” he crows like
a proud papa. And like the father figure he is to many of his students, Cappy
hosts get-togethers at his home ranging from Christmas parties to chicken barbecues,
engendering not only a feeling of camaraderie among choir members, but also
a sense of family. No wonder they keep returning! This father to all choir alumni
is also the father of 11 children—nine with his first wife, Zora, whom he lost
to cancer in 1973, and two with his wife Ruth (“Bebe”), an ASC choir alumna!
What keeps Cappy going? “Family is number one,” he says, true pride and love
emanating from him when he speaks of any member of his family. “The alumni and
students are second; my job is third.” With such “sound” values it’s no wonder
that Cappy hits the right note all the time!
Cappy's first choir - 1951
Cappy's first band - 1951
“It’s Magic!” Although Cappy retired from full-time duties as choral director
in 1985, he remains at the helm of the College’s choral groups in a part-time
capacity. The Alfred Choir Alumni Association is a testimony to Cappy’s many
years of service. There are approximately 350 active members, many of whom return
to Alfred each spring to renew old friendships and sing together at the spring
concert under the direction of their old taskmaster. In fact, the overriding
sentiment from several of the Alumni Choir members is that not only is Cappy
something special, he’s “magic!” To a person, interviewed alumni choir members
mentioned Cappy’s exacting expectations, his excellent musical ability, his
exceptional musical knowledge, and his exceed-ingly warm and caring nature.
Here is a sampling of comments made by Alfred State College Alumni Choir members:
“Cappy is an extremely gifted musician and a taskmaster when it comes to
his work with the choirs. He really knows how to get the best out of each of
the choir members. For many years the Alfred State Choir was noted as being
one of the best in the country. So even though he worked us hard, we knew that
it would pay off. Being a member of the Alfred State Concert Choir teaches you
responsibility, teamwork, time management, presentation skills, dedication,
and cooperation. However, when I was in choir I did not realize that I was learning
all these skills or know how they would benefit me later in life. I simply enjoyed
the musical experience and had fun. However, those skills, combined with a definite
increase in confidence and self-esteem, helped me to be successful in my career
in human resource administration. “I believe that we are each given a gift,
and I am thankful for teachers like Cappy who dedicate their lives to helping
students find and utilize their gifts. The musical skills I learned from Cappy
have allowed me to participate in community music programs as both a choir member
and soloist. I currently participate in three choirs and sub in a bell choir."
Merri-Lou McKeever, class of 1969:
In answer to the question: “Why do so many of us return to Alfred for Choir
Alumni Weekend?” Merri-Lou McKeever says, “My first reaction was ‘magic.’ It
was a flippant response then, but on second thought, I think first reactions
sometime are best, so I will stick with it. “We return to feel the magic. If
you like to sing and enjoy the camaraderie of others who share that interest,
then returning to Alfred to sing with them, under the direction of Mr. C is
nothing short of magic. Mr. C is a man who loves what he does so much that he
has dedicated 50 years of his life to it. He directs with great passion and
feeling, always striving for perfection. He expects a lot of his choirs, and
I think most of us are inspired by the challenge. So, where does the magic come
in? It happens when the concert risers fill with lots of old friends; there’s
lots of chatting and laughing; chaos rules — and then, Mr. C raises his arms
and asks us to sing. Sing in harmony. Yep. “It’s magic.”
Dave Nelson, class of 1967 and 1969
“Initially Cappy was my father figure. My own father had died a few months
before I started at Alfred. He was an alcoholic and had little use for children.
Here was a man who, from the very start, showed a high level of interest in
young people and sweated bullets for them. Although I had little in common with
the man, his drive and concern made me look for ways to please him. I knew he
wasn’t perfect, but his love came strongly from deep inside. “He then taught
me to sing. More than that, he showed me that I could project, more than just
music, but a personality. Cappy gave me opportunities to do solos and to help
manage choir projects, i.e. the Annual Chorale Festival. I became a leader because
of his trust and guidance. I served as the first president of the Alfred Jazz
Choir (now the Alumni Jazz Choir) and later the president of the full choir.
This was absolutely the most influential contribution toward my becoming an
IT manager; he gave me confidence and showed me how to effectively get the best
out of people. “Cappy has the ability of blending, not just music, but people.
He taught diversity. Although I’m way out in Phoenix, I have to come back every
year to sing with him and my friends; I get to see my “family”. We are bound
together with Cappadonia glue."
Annie Peiffer, ’73, president, Alumni Choir:
“Because of Cappy, I love music and love to sing. He is an expert at getting
people to sing their best. He works us to death—he’s very exacting with choir.
He expected us to be good, and we were. He gave us his all, so we willingly
give him our all. “The experience [of returning to campus each year for the
alumni choir concert] is like a family reunion, except we all get along. “Once
you sing with Cappy, you’re spoiled. You know just what to do. He taught us
all these nifty things, but he also taught us responsibility, loyalty, and commitment.
It’s just magic!”
COLLEGE COUNCIL OUTSTANDING SERVICE
Presented to Anthony C. Cappadonia
May 20, 2000!
TEXT OF THE AWARD...
For his almost 50 years of outstanding
loyalty to Alfred State College, its students, and its music programs;
For his tireless dedication to
directing the many Alfred State College concert choirs, stage band, dance
band, Kingsmen, Christmas Chorales, Jazz Singers, and Alumni Concert Choir;
For his many years of classroom
teaching, bringing the joy of music appreciation to countless students;
For serving as a constant recruiter
through the Annual Choral Festivals and choir performances throughout
For never accepting less than
the best that his students had to offer;
For serving as a surrogate parent,
always willing to listen, offer advice, lend a helping hand or a shoulder
to cry on;
For serving as the impetus for
over 3,000 Alfred State College students to gain self-esteem, confidence,
presentation, and team skills;
For inspiring many of those students
to remain active in the Alfred State Choir Alumni Association, whose members
return to campus annually to renew old friendships and to perform together;
For his unfailing loyalty, his
outstanding work ethic, and his big heart.