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School of Music to welcome new director of bands

(Courtesy Photo | Central Michigan University School of Music Facebook page)

When it came to interviewing for the Central Michigan University School of Music director of bands, the odds seemed stacked against Christopher Chapman.

Arriving from Oregon during January’s polar vortex, Chapman’s flight was delayed in Chicago. There, he lived off of Snickers bars and burgers from the White Castle near his hotel. After a third day trapped in Chicago, Chapman rented a car and drove to Mount Pleasant, passing overturned cars and semi-trucks. 

Since his luggage never arrived, he did the two-day interview process in jeans and a sweatshirt he had purchased from a Walmart for $10.

Now, Chapman has been appointed the new director of bands for the CMU School of Music.

“I’m quite excited to get to work as part of the school of music team and to work for those great students I met on my interview days,” Chapman said. “I loved everything I discovered about the job and hope to maintain the great traditions of those who came before me.”

Former director of bands, John Williamson, retired last spring after a nearly 40-year career at CMU, leaving big shoes for Chapman to fill.

In search of a new director of bands, Randi L'Hommedieu, director of music education, said he looked for an experienced and accomplished director who would continue the “tradition of musical excellence and peer recognition” established by previous directors.

“We’re delighted (Chapman) agreed to join our faculty and look forward to continued advancement under his leadership,” L’Hommedieu said. “He is a magnificent conductor, knowledgeable and engaging teacher, and will, I am sure, be a well-liked and respected colleague. He’s a perfect fit for CMU.”

Chapman has been teaching for 24 years and spent the last 13 at Oregon State University as the director of bands.

“I have been fortunate to have worked with an incredible team of students and faculty at Oregon State University,” Chapman said. “Those times I will never forget. I will always treasure my 13 years there, as the experiences with students and faculty were so positive and life-affirming. This is what I wish to bring to CMU.”

Currently, John Campbell has been filling in as the interim director of bands for the 2018-19 academic year.

The CMU Symphonic Wind Ensemble on April 16 will be Campbell’s final concert as the interim director of bands. The concert will take place in Staples Family Concert Hall from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Chapman will begin next fall. He said he hopes to: Recruit "outstanding players who are also great human beings," ensure applied studios have serious players and give students the "finest possible experiences so that after graduating, they can carry on the same CMU spirit" into their futures.