Message from the Chair

W. Terrence SpillerThe worlds of Harry Potter and of Hobbits are awash in magic. Most magic, it seems, is a force like gravity — it exists to be used, for good or for ill. Heroes overcome evil not because their magic is better or stronger, but because of their choices, which come out of their beliefs and their values. They are loyal, clever, patient, persistent and brave; they revere friends, family, beauty and truth. I feel that the teaching of music blossoms when we apply those same heroic traits and choices. The divine beauty of medieval chants, the mortal struggles of Beethoven, the timely poetry and compelling melodies of the Beatles can all give us insight into our lives and the lives of others. When we study music with intellectual rigor, and couple that with an understanding of those who made the music, we begin to make our own sort of magic.

My friend and colleague Craig H. Russell has dedicated his life to this "Magical Mystery Tour," and in the process, he has made Cal Poly (and the world) a better place. He has blended his extraordinary mix of pursuits — teaching, performance, composition, finding and restoring lost music treasures — into a dazzling, dizzying and joyous quest. He has brought his students (and colleagues) along on this journey, and we are all the richer for it. I am glad to say that his retirement this June does not mean he is leaving Cal Poly; rather, it represents only a reduction in his time spent on campus (which will give him more time for his myriad long-standing projects). This “retirement” simply means that we are able to share him a bit more with the world at large.

I hope that you can join us when we thank Craig for his generous devotion to Cal Poly at our Early Music Ensemble Concert on May 30 (more on next page). The concert is not just a celebration of what Craig has done, but also of what lies ahead for him. To paraphrase the opening number of the musical “Pippin” — in Craig’s future, there’s “Magic to Do.”

W. Terrence Spiller, Chair