An early director of choral music who helped many Chapman University alumni launch singing and music education careers, Sheldon Disrud has died. He passed away Dec. 13 in Fullerton, Calif. He was 91.
Disrud was among the first faculty who joined Chapman when it moved to Orange in 1954. Among his students was Jim Schamp ’62, whom Disrud helped become a Dapper Dan at Disneyland. Schamp kept in touch with Disrud and in recent years joined a choral group Disrud created – the DizChords.
Schamp remembered Disrud as a gifted teacher with boundless enthusiasm for music.
“He was pure joy and fun,” said Schamp, recently retired from his own career teaching music in junior and senior high schools.
“He gave us a wide variety of music, from the very best of the Renaissance up through modern music. I remember doing things by Charles Ives with him. He did the whole gamut, plus madrigal music. The Chapman Madrigals were a big part of his work.”
In addition to teaching at Chapman, Disrud directed Disneyland’s annual Candlelight Procession for many years. He also enjoyed a successful performing career outside teaching. In his early college days he formed a vocal sextet at L.A. City College, and was contacted by an agent whose client, a singer, was looking for backup singers. The singer was Mel Torme, and Disrud and his friends became “The Mel-Tones.” As a performer, Disrud routinely rubbed elbows with the likes of Les Baxter, Marilyn Horne, Paul Whiteman and the future Mrs. Henry Mancini.
He is survived by his partner of 53 years, Marc Guardiola, and family members Bradley Swenson, Sherwood Swenson, Luke Swenson, Gayle Markens and Heidi Masley.