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Choir director seeks growth, prominence

Richard Zielinski hasn?t wasted any time in striving for his goals during his fledgling tenure at USF.

After being hired by the College of Fine Arts this summer, he was named the director for choral activities.

As the new director, Zielinski is holding auditions and working to build the choir program. He said the program is not only open to music majors, but students campus-wide.

?We want the students across the campus to come to the arts center of campus and get involved,? Zielinski said. ?One of our main goals is really two-fold: serve the students who are getting degrees here in music, and a parallel goal is to get the campus singing.?

Zielinski said this summer he discovered more than 3,000 incoming freshmen and transfer students had chorus experience. Since then he said he has actively sought out these students to get them involved in the choir program.

?We?ve assembled a recruitment team of students from the school of music who have been very, very helpful,? Zielinski said.

Zielinski said he will be holding auditions today and Thursday in FAH 203 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

?Students who want to get involved should come here and talk to me about it,? he said.

Zielinski said the auditions, or ?vocal interviews,? are a quick way for him to place a potential singer.

?I just want to hear their vocal quality,? Zielinski said.

Zielinski operates the chorus program in association with fellow professors Robert Summer and John Richmond. The program has two choirs, the Chamber Singers and the University Singers. The Chamber Singers is made up of mostly music majors while the University Singers is made up of students and faculty from throughout the university.

In addition, Zielinski said he hopes to develop an all-male chorus group on campus.

Zielinski said he has high hopes for the choir program at USF.

?We have a four to five year plan,? he said. ?We want to become a regional hub of choral music.?

While goals are for USF to become an established choir in the state, Zielinski said long range goals call for more national recognition.

?All the pieces of the puzzle are here,? Zielinski said. ?Without a doubt, the potential for becoming a national choral center is a long term goal for us.?

Zielinski?s training in music and his work in the field has been extensive. He studied music at the Eastman School of Music and at the University of Illinois. He has taught at the State University of New York, Mercer and Indiana State University. His professional work has taken him to Poland, Austria, and Japan.

In addition to teaching at USF, Zielinski is the Music and Artistic Director for The Master Chorale of Tampa Bay, a local all-volunteer chorus.

Zielinski said he wants to build on the already-strong foundation for music at USF.

Steve Florio, a music student at USF, said having such an enthusiastic professor with a high level of experience is exciting for the department.

?It changed the dynamics for the faculty as well as the students,? Florio said. ?He?s so full of energy, it?s incredible.?

Florio said he is excited about change in the program and looks forward to students participating.

?A lot of people should know about this and should be over here,? Florio said. ?It makes it even better to have so many people from different backgrounds all coming together to work on this one little thing.?

Zielinski said with all of the new development in the program, discussion about a new school for music or a performing arts center has continued. He said such a center at USF would be beneficial.

?We have outgrown this facility that we are in right now,? he said. ?Not only would the performing arts center serve the needs of our campus, but the needs of our community.?

Zielinski said a new center would culminate more than 20 years of work by faculty members at USF.

?This hard work needs to be rewarded, and I think that?s why we?re hearing discussions of a new performing arts center,? Zielinski said.

For now, Zielinski said he will continue to work to produce a quality choir at USF. He said USF has some of the nation?s best music students, and he looks forward to the opportunity.

?The talent is out there,? Zielinski said. ?We?re really trying this first year to unite the campus in song.?

For individual?s who are interested in auditioning, Zielinski can be reached at 974-0444 or at

Contact Robert Brannonat