Former Cassville music teacher, composer to present scholarship
Dr. Russell Robinson, former music teacher at Cassville schools (1974-1979, 1980-81), will be in Cassville on April 9 with his wife, Brenda, to present the first Russell Robinson Music Education Scholarship to a graduating senior, who is going to college and majoring in music education.
The presentation will follow a choral concert at 7 p.m. in the high school gymnasium where the choirs will perform and Robinson will conduct some of his published choral works at the request of Mary Richmiller, Cassville choral director. A meet-and-greet will take place at 5:30 p.m.
“This very, very generous scholarship is a game changer for our students,” said Richmiller. “Dr. Robinson is a renowned composer and conductor. He wants to give back to Cassville, where he began his teaching career. I am humbled and thrilled that he is providing this opportunity for our students. It is especially exciting that he is coming to Cassville to present this award to the first recipient.
"The choirs at Cassville are rehearsing music he has composed for this terrific evening. Dr. Robinson has graciously agreed to work with our students himself and conduct his pieces at the concert. I hope everyone in Cassville comes to this very special concert to celebrate the music he has given the world as well as our school choirs.”
As this first scholarship will probably be the only time Dr. Robinson will personally attend to present this annual award, the Cassville community is encouraged to attend.
Robinson says, “I have such fond memories of beginning my teaching career in Cassville. As a 22-year-old college graduate, my students were so kind to me as were the fellow teachers, administrators, parents and the entire community. After retiring from the University of Florida in 2016, I reflected on how much Cassville influenced my personal life and my professional career. I communicated my wishes to establish an annual scholarship with Superintendent Dr. Richard Asbill, School Board Member Jon Horner (my former music student) and Mary Richmiller, and they made it easy for me to make this a reality. I only wanted to establish the criteria and provide the funding for the scholarship each year, and not be involved in the actual selection of the recipient. When I was teaching in Cassville, I had so many gifted and talented students, many of whom could have benefited from financial assistance in pursuing a music teaching career. I am privileged to not only pay it forward but also pay it backward for all that Cassville did for me.”
“Dr. Robinson's commitment is two-fold in demonstrating his view of music education and Cassville school district,” stated Dr. Asbill. “His efforts to support students' dreams and career pursuits in music education is so important to our local community.”
Robinson, was named Emeritus Professor of Music Education at the University of Florida and received the Preeminent Faculty award in 2016 when he retired after 32 years as Professor and Head of Music Education. He received his Bachelor of Music Education degree from Drury University in 1974 and his master's and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Miami in 1980 and 1984.
Robinson has made over 300 appearances as a conductor, speaker, consultant and presenter at festivals, workshops, honor choirs, all-state choirs and state, regional, national and international conferences in the U.S., Europe, Asia, Africa, Central America, South America, Mexico, Canada, the Middle East and Australia as well as conducting venues, which include: Carnegie Hall (three times and has been invited to conduct there again in 2019), Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, Boston's Symphony Hall, the White House and Washington's National Cathedral.
Robinson was the 2016 inductee into the Florida Music Educators Association Hall of Fame, and is a past president of FMEA, Associate Dean of the UF College of the Arts, National Collegiate Chair and Choral Adviser for the National Association for Music Education.
He and his wife Brenda were the founding directors of the UF Teach the World program from 2010-2017, providing internships for over 100 college students in international schools in Rome and Paris. After several trips to Africa, Dr. Robinson founded the UF Africa Choir in 2009 with an institutional linkage program at Kenyatta University in Nairobi, having his Ph.D. students from Kenya conduct the choir. This choir is still in existence at UF, performing authentic choral music of Eastern, Western and Southern Africa.
Robinson is a published author, composer and arranger with over 450 publications in print, including choral compositions, arrangements, articles, books, and instructional DVDs that are used by music teachers world-wide.
Jon Horner added, “It is such a wonderful and gracious act by Russ and Brenda to set up the scholarship for CHS students wanting to go into music education. Russ has had such a positive impact on the lives of so many students during his career. He has been an amazing mentor and has had a tremendous impact on my professional life. I’m truly grateful for his wonderful influence.”
Since his retirement from UF, he has continued to be active professionally -- writing, conducting, speaking and consulting internationally, and as he says, “having a lot of fun doing only what Brenda and I want to do.” Dr. Robinson’s website is: RussellRobinson.com.