Domenico Santangelo

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Domenico Eusanio Santangelo, known as Santy, was a prominent orchestra leader and musician in Guernsey in the early 20th century. He is best known for composing the music to the island's national anthem Sarnia Chérie.

Domenico Santangelo was born on 12 July 1882 in San Vincenzo, Campobasso, Molise, Italy. He learned the violin from his elder brother, Michele, in Antwerp, Belgium. He gained the degree of Baccalaureatus Musica at the Conservatoire Royale de Musique, Liège. After three years as principal violinist at the Russell Hotel, London, he moved to Jersey, where his brother was employed at the Pomme d'Or Hotel. While he was there he was invited to visit Guernsey to play in a charity concert in St Julian's Theatre in 1906. He made the island his home for the rest of life.

His first employment in Guernsey was at the Channel Islands Hotel (later the Savoy Hotel), under the proprietor Wilfred Shirvell. In early 1914, he was appointed Musical Director at St Julian's Hall. Here he formed a strong ensemble, known as the Santangelo Orchestra, which played there for many years, providing musical accompaniment to visiting artists as well as silent films. He set to music a poem Guernsey Dear, written by the theatre's manager, George Deighton, which was to become Sarnia Chérie, the island's national anthem. It was first performed at St Julian's Theatre in November 1911.

The Santangelo Orchestra was disbanded in 1929, since the growth of talking pictures greatly reduced the need for orchestral accompaniment. Santangelo went on to form the Guernsey Orchestra, who performed regularly at the Candie Gardens Auditorium. In 1937, they received the support of the States of Guernsey, and became the States of Guernsey Orchestra, and made a major contribution to keeping the islanders' spirits up during the German Occupation.

Santangelo was a founder of the Guernsey Music Society in 1920, a keen supporter of the Eisteddfod, an active Rotarian and a director of the Guernsey Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Company (GADOC).

He died in Guernsey on 13 February 1970.


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