Pursuit of Passion: Musical Performances at Oglethorpe

Dr. Ray leads the musical accompaniment at Oglethorpe's 2012 Commencement.

Dr. W. Irwin Ray, director of musical activities, shines as a source of inspiration for his students. His love for the arts is evident, and he hopes to instill in his students a similar passion.

“I think everyone needs to figure out what they love daily,” he says. “If you’re passionate about doing something, you will do it well…”

His own passion propelled him to pursue a career in music and to dedicate himself to advancing students’ education and music appreciation.

“I really believe in our school,” said Dr. Ray, who teaches music classes and conducts the University Singers and Chorale. “This where I need to be and where I want to be… I feel like I’m making a difference in (students’) lives.”

Dr. Ray also leads the effort for Oglethorpe’s music programming, finding outside professional groups to perform on campus. He brings these musicians to campus in part to inspire his students and give them the opportunity to hear a variety of music, courtesy of bands, orchestras, opera companies and more.

“We try to look for programs with connections to majors, preferably Core,” said Dr. Ray. “I make sure they all meet the highest standard of quality… Many classes build their lectures around the performances.”

One such performer was alumnus John Burke ’11, whom Dr. Ray describes as “amazing.”  Thanks to Dr. Ray’s efforts to find these performers, 70% of music students, such as John, continue to embrace music in their post-grad lives.

This month, Dr. Ray has invited two stellar acts to the Oglethorpe campus: the Atlanta Concert Band and the Capitol City Opera. He describes the Atlanta Concert Band as being “for band music what the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra is to orchestral music,” and adds that “the Capitol City Opera is a (local and inexpensive) showcase for good people in Atlanta… it has a great reputation.”

In order to encourage these musicians to perform, Dr. Ray has adopted a process of co-sponsorship. This means that performers are given a discount to use the Conant Center for Performing Arts in exchange for allowing the Oglethorpe community to listen for free (with a Petrel Pass!). On May 4, 2013, Georgia Philharmonic will also be on campus as part of a co-sponsorship, and Dr. Ray has more plans in the works, including an international music presentation.

“These performances help (advance) education,” said Dr. Ray, “and build a really great experience and public image… I believe that a university should offer a wakening of not only learning but lifelong passions.”

Be sure to come out to the Atlanta Concert Band’s performance on March 9 in Conant at 8 pm, and attend the Capitol City Opera performances on March 15 and 16 at 8 pm, and March 17 at 3 pm, also in the Conant Performing Arts Center!

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