The search committee for the Director of Concert Bands at Elmhurst College has narrowed it down to their final three candidates as of before Spring Break.
After 24 years as Director of Concert Bands at EC, Professor Judith E Grimes will be retiring from her position. Though she has technically been retired since August 2015, Grimes has returned for a few months until the search committee has decided which candidate will take her place.
While the candidates’ names could not be released to The Leader, it was made known by Dr. Peter Griffin, the head of the search committee and department chair of the music department, that the applicants have been local as well as from coast to coast.
The search committees consist of two different parts: the faculty committee of eight members that chooses the replacement and the student committee, which evaluates the candidates during rehearsals and Q&As.
According to Professor Ross Kellan, assistant professor and the conductor of the Symphonic Band as well as a member of the faculty committee, the replacement is scheduled to take over at the end of this April should all go well.
After the faculty committee received all of the applications, they narrowed it down to five applicants they would interview over Skype. Then it was further narrowed to three and these finalists will start rehearsing with the Wind Ensemble band at EC, according to Kellan.
The first candidate rehearsed with the band on Mar. 28 and the other candidates will follow for the next two Mondays. They also work with the Conducting III class followed by a Q&A in which the student committee can ask any questions they want, according to Matt Wozniak, an EC senior and member of the student committee.
“I am excited and thankful to be chosen for this position and I think student input is especially important because we will work with [the replacement] on a daily basis,” Wozniak said in a personal interview.
While the student committee does not choose which candidate will get the job, their comments and critiques are still valuable. “The student input is certainly not taken for granted,” he said in a personal interview. “The student committee was chosen very carefully to represent not just gender, but a cross section of majors and freshmen through seniors so we get a mix of opinions.”
It was a resounding consensus between Kellan, Grimes, and Wozniak that the Director of Concert Bands needed to be a certain kind of person.
“First off, you have to genuinely enjoy working with people,” Kellan said. “You have to have very good interpersonal skills. You have to have an amazing work ethic. In addition, you need to also have great musicianship which seems obvious, but sometimes it’s taken for granted.”
Students have expressed their sadness in Grimes’ departure, explaining how she has taught them invaluable lessons in the field of music.
“She’s taught me a lot about music and teaching in general,” Wozniak said. “Working with her as a librarian has been an experience and the skills she’s taught me will be useful in my career.”
Grimes has not taken part in the national search for her replacement and she cannot even be in the room while the candidates are rehearsing with the Wind Ensemble, according to Grimes.
However, she explains her trust in the committee and their decision, whatever it may be.
“The committee has done a wonderful job and all three of the final candidates that will rehearse the band are all outstanding,” Grimes said in an email interview. “My only wish now is that they love my kids as much as I do.”
After her replacement takes over, Grimes plans on keeping a small office on campus and helping with auditions and other adjunct projects.
Her J-Term course that has been around for 40 years, “Educational Experiences in Jamaica,” where EC students have the opportunity to work with students in Jamaica, will still be on the course list.
Grimes has also already accepted guest conductor positions at festivals in California, Florida, Canada, and Jamaica during the 2016-2017 academic school year.
She has also expressed how much she will miss her students at EC.
“I have loved every minute with my Elmhurst College students,” she said. “They are bright, talented, and kind. They let me be me — whether it is trying to make improvements or bragging on their accomplishments. I will miss my full-time position, but look forward to having the time to still connect with students and to follow their successful careers.”