College of Music appoints new dean

College of Music appoints new dean

College of Music appoints new dean
June 10
16:08 2016

Adalberto Toledo | Senior Staff Writer

@aldot29

One of UNT’s biggest claims to fame is its esteemed College of Music, known for Grammy-nominated ensembles like the One O’clock Lab Band and Grammy-winning alumni like Norah Jones and the musicians of Snarky Puppy.

So when James C. Scott stepped down as dean of the College of Music after nearly 15 years at the helm, some large shoes were left to be filled.

Long-time music educator John Richmond was tabbed to carry the torch.

“It would be wrong for me to go in and say, ‘Well this is one of the great colleges of music in history, but I’m going to tell you what to do now,’” Richmond said. “First of all it’s wrong, and second of all it’s arrogant. I’m not that guy.”

Richmond is the current director of the Glenn Korff School of Music at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, but will leave the cold winters of Nebraska for the Denton heat starting August 1.

With 13 years of experience UNL, a master’s degree in conducting from the University of Missouri at Kansas City Conservatory of Music and a Ph.D. in music education from Northwestern University, Richmond said he’s ready for a new challenge.

“I feel I have a great ability to listen and a great ability to facilitate, organize and serve as an advocate,” Richmond said. “I think those are essential qualities for a dean.”

From an early age Richmond was surrounded by music. His parents encouraged him to pursue music in his own way, which allowed him to excel at trumpet, piano and become self-taught at guitar.

“I was encouraged without being compelled,” Richmond said. “You know, you hear stories about parents with all the best of intentions that push hard, but my parents were always encouraging and allowed me to pursue the musical interests that I’ve had. They just allowed me to do it at the rate, pace and direction that felt right to me.”

Though he no longer plays trumpet, he frequently attends church services at Westminster Presbyterian Church, where he sings in the choir with his wife. With a background that consists of formal music education training and choral performance and direction, he does everything in his power to be able to go to church and sing every Sunday.

“I don’t direct the choir because I can’t take on that responsibility with the other duties in our wheelhouse,” Richmond said. “But it’s a great outlet for us musically.”

Richmond’s passions have not always been in music. While in school for his Ph.D., he became interested in law and took courses in educational law, even writing his dissertation on philosophical law.

It proved to be advantageous in his career, with arts funding being cut across the country. According to the Washington Times the Chicago school system decided to close over 50 schools due to lack of funding, causing them to lay off over 1,000 teachers.

Ten percent of the lay-offs were music and arts teachers.

As dean, he hopes to bring the conversation to the future of music and education. With UNT being one of the first universities to offer a jazz program, he said the university should be a leader in the discussion.

“The question that we’re asking ourselves now is what kind of musical engagements ought to be a common part of the conversation,” Richmond said. “For example, the DIY music scene that’s happening spontaneously outside the college, should that be a part of the curricular conversation within the college? And there’s also an awful lot of opportunity in film and in gaming, and we need to look at that carefully and have those conversations.”

The challenge of growing an already flourishing music program has Richmond excited to take the reins. After long conversations, multiple interviews and a review of his professional life, he said he feels good about coming to UNT.

“The reputation of the University of North Texas in music is stellar and international, so I’ve known about that institution for a long time,” Richmond said. “I’m really excited and honored to come to UNT, and it’s an amazing place with such a storied reputation in music. It’s a thrill to be a part of it.”

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