Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Spradlings Receive Dohnányi, Opperman Awards

The College of Music is proud to announce the recipients of two of the College’s faculty citations. The awards were presented by Patricia Flowers, Dean of the College of Music, to alums Robert and Diana Spradling on Thursday, October 24, 2013.

Named for renowned pianist, composer, and College of Music faculty member Ernst von Dohnányi, the Dohnányi Award recognizes excellence in performance or composition by an undergraduate alumnus; the Opperman Award, so named in homage to the College of Music’s first dean, Ella Scoble Opperman, recognizes distinguished achievements in music education and outstanding leadership by an undergraduate alumnus.

Dr. Robert Spradling was awarded the Ernst von Dohnányi Citation of Excellence. Dr. Spradling received his Bachelor of Music Education degree in 1968, as well as subsequent master and doctoral degrees from this institution. Spradling was nominated for the citation based on his career-long focus on participation in and promotion of the highest levels of wind band performance, as well as his tireless advocacy for the creation of new compositions for that medium. A wind band conductor for over 40 years, Spradling has amassed an impressive list of performances. As Director of Bands at Western Michigan University, Syracuse University, public schools in Broward County, Florida, and guest conductor in the United States and abroad he is recognized in the profession as a fine musician, conductor, teacher, and colleague. Upon his arrival at Western Michigan University in 1993 he embarked on an ambitious program to help sponsor the creation of new music for the wind band medium. As a regular participant in consortium and individual commissioning projects Spradling contributed to the creation of 32 new works for wind band by 27 composers in a twenty year period. He and his ensembles performed significant premiers of many of these works. In his final semester at Western Michigan, before his retirement at the end of the 2012-2013 school year, Dr. Spradling completed a recording project with NAXOS which includes some of these works. Bob values performance as an important part of the education of the whole musician, and he has made it his goal to regularly provide high quality performance opportunities for his students. First conferred in 1963, Dr. Spradling is only the fourteenth person to receive the award.

Diana Spradling was awarded the Ella Scoble Opperman Citation for Distinguished Achievement. Diana Spradling has successfully combined teaching and research by bringing music and science into partnership in her book, Jazz Singing: Developing Artistry and Authenticity. Spradling began her career as a practicing vocal/general music teacher spending many years in the field after first graduating from FSU in 1966. Her work in various school systems in Florida included her appointment as the first choral director at Godby High School here in Tallahassee. After leaving FSU for the second time she was hired at Syracuse University where she filled both teaching and administrative roles (1980-1993). Along with her regular assignments in teaching voice and music education methods classes, Diana started a very successful vocal jazz ensemble. She quickly developed a national reputation as a vocal coach, jazz pedagogue, and clinician. One of her more visible students during this period was Vanessa Williams, who was the first African-American woman to be crowned Miss America. Ms. Williams’ singing in the talent portion of the competition was cited by many as her winning edge. Diana left Syracuse with Bob to teach at Western Michigan University, where she completed her long career as professor and administrator that has resulted in extraordinary distinction (1993-2008). The successes of her students on a national level during the last decade have included 7 Down Beat Award winners, 2 Monk Institute finalists, a Monk Institute graduate voice student, 2 JAS Aspen participants, active jazz/cabaret/pop artists who make a living as performers; and more. Mrs. Spradling was honored with this award for her extraordinary career contributions as performer, scholar, and teacher of vocal jazz. Diana is the sixteenth College of Music alum to receive this award since its creation in 1963.

“Bob and Diana Spradling have been influential leaders in their respective musical communities through years of dedicated teaching, creative activity, and outreach. It was a pleasure to invite them back to the College of Music to recognize their achievements,” said Dean Flowers. “Bob and Diana represent distinguished role models for what FSU students and alums can hope to accomplish over the course of a distinguished career.”