Noted Conductor Joseph Flummerfelt '58 to Retire
November 7, 2003
November 7, 2003, Greencastle, Ind. - "After a career filled with milestones, Joseph Flummerfelt has reached another, this one decidedly bittersweet," notes an article on the 1958 DePauw University graduate in today's edition of New Jersey's Princeton Packet. "After 33 years, the Lawrenceville resident has announced this will be his last season as artistic director and principal conductor at Westminster Choir College of Rider University, a residential college in Princeton with 330 undergraduate music students and more than 100 graduate students enrolled each year." Leonard Bernstein called Flummerfelt “the greatest choral conductor in the world.”
"I just feel like I want to open up some more space in my life," Dr. Flummerfelt tells the newspaper. "My life has been so full and so rich, but I just would like to open up some options to do more guest conducting, to do some writing, to travel... I've had this responsibility for a very long time. It's been a great and glorious run, and I've thought a lot about it. It wasn't precipitous at all. At one point, I thought it might be a bit earlier, but then I did announce, I guess it was a year or so ago, that I was going to be to be retiring at the end of the 2004 season."
The story notes that "Dr. Flummerfelt came to Westminster in 1971, after having served on the faculty at Florida State University for three years. Prior to that he taught at the University of Illinois, where he earned his doctorate, and DePauw University, his undergraduate alma matter, where he majored in organ and church music before returning several years later as a professor. His teachers over the years included Nadia Boulanger, Julius Herford and Elaine Brown."
The article also notes that famous choral conductor Robert Shaw recommended Flummerfelt for the Westminster position and that the maestro considers his 90-year-old mother, Mavorette, who still teaches piano, to be his earliest musical influence. "Beginning at age 3, we used to sings songs. Now I don't quite remember this, but she's said, 'You'd turn beet red and sing your heart out.' I'd say, 'Sing it again, Mama. Sing it again.' And then when I was about 5, I started playing by ear, and then I started making up pieces. I taught myself to play the organ when I was about 11, and I started playing in church when I was 13, or something like that, so it was kind of in my blood from the beginning. In the genes, I guess."Back