OCU’s choirs are undergoing directorial changes this semester.
Judith Willoughby, professor of conducting and choral music education, is on leave this semester and three adjunct professors are taking her place.
The adjuncts said they didn’t know why Willoughby is on leave and Randi Von Ellefson, director of choral activities, was unavailable for comment at presstime.
Tony Gonzalez was called out of retirement to be an adjunct visiting professor to direct University Singers, a mixed-voice ensemble primarily composed of upperclassmen.
This is his second time at OCU after being an adjunct professor last spring for secondary methods of music education course.
Gonzalez was born in Brownsville, Texas, and moved to Oklahoma in 1973. He has lived in Norman since moving.
He received his bachelor’s degree in music education and conducting from Del Mar College in Texas and his master’s degree at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. He also studied for his doctorate at OU but is consider “ABD” because he didn’t finish his dissertation.
Gonzalez said he loves OCU and has his students call him “Mr. G” for short.
“From a teacher’s perspective, I’m sure you can concur, there’s a spirit of giving here, and generosity and kindness, and to say nothing of the talent,” Gonzalez said. “It’s been a real joy for me.”
The other two adjunct professors are Sam Ritter and Lucas Tarrant.
Ritter and Tarrant are second-year graduate students in choral conducting who are sharing the responsibility of Ad Astra, the women’s chorus.
“I was surprised because we’re still students, but then was able to realize the opportunity,” Ritter said. “We get to rehearse with choirs all the time, but to actually be a professor of these choirs with our own songs and repertoire is just a different way going about this kind of pursuit.
“It’s a really great opportunity that I didn’t expect.”
Tarrant directed the first half of the semester, and Ritter is directing the rest.
Gonzalez said it is unknown when Willoughby will be back, but he would be happy to consider staying at OCU if he’s asked.
The next concert, which includes all of the choirs, is at 3 p.m. April 3 in Bishop W. Angie Smith Chapel.