2009 Fall Newsletter

Message from the Chair

William Johnson Announces Retirement

W. Terrence SpillerThink back to the summer of 1966 (if you were around then). What were you doing? I was 8 years old, and enjoying what little sun we had in Seattle, while wearing my favorite Batman T-shirt (the show had started that year, and was the coolest thing around). Lyndon Johnson was President, a gallon of gas cost 32 cents—and William Johnson started teaching at Cal Poly! We’re going to celebrate Bill (a.k.a. “J”) and his remarkable tenure and achievements throughout the year as he’s announced his retirement at the end of this school term. Fittingly, his last action as a music professor will be conducting his Cal Poly Wind Ensemble on stage at the Walt Disney Concert Hall on June 22, 2010.

Bill has accomplished many extraordinary things in his years at Cal Poly; all of which were—and are—fueled by his passionate commitments to education and music. He’s brought the quality of his instrumental program—still joyously dependent upon non-music majors!—to an amazingly high level. He’s taught thousands of students introductory music theory over the last 43 years, and has also taught conducting and a course on instrumental literature and rehearsal techniques. He’s taken our ensembles on tour all over the world. Students’ lives have been enriched in countless ways by Bill’s efforts as both maestro and tour guide.

Bill’s personal tour—from growing up in rural Crossville, TN, to appearing on world stages—is a uniquely American story, one made possible by his own talent, drive and education. His commitment to education won’t change in retirement; he’ll continue to conduct and run clinics throughout the world, and he plans on being a fundraiser for our department! I hope that you’ll be able to join us this year in celebrating Bill’s many accomplishments.

W. Terrence Spiller, Chair