Spotlight: Augustana Orchestra director retiring after 41 years

When Dr. Daniel Culver, the conductor of the Augustana College symphony orchestra, looked back on his 41 years at Augustana, rather than crediting himself he praised his fellow faculty members.
Culver is retiring at the end of this year.
“(In the beginning) there was frankly a lot of rebuilding to be done,” said Culver. “The program was in rugged shape.”
Culver said the orchestra’s achievements to his colleagues in the string, wind and brass faculty who have supported the program.
“I always felt honored to be a part of that, and they have worked themselves as an ensemble and supporting what the orchestra is about, and so as my time draws to a close with this orchestra I’ve been honored that the orchestra has allowed me, and I really believe this, has allowed me to conduct them,” Culver said. “And it’s been a privilege to be their custodian for 41 years.”
Junior Elizabeth Kupar, who worked with Culver in the orchestra and also had him as a conducting professor, said that Culver makes orchestra fun.
“When I heard that (he was retiring), I started tearing up. I was really upset,” said junior Elizabeth Kupar.
Senior Henry Weberpal said that Culver left a legacy for the orchestra.
“Overall it’s a bittersweet moment…the things that we have done in orchestra I know I will always personally cherish and be influenced by the rest of my life,” said senior Henry Weberpal.
The faculty members of the Arts department can also attest to the legacy Culver has left behind.
Music professor James Lambrecht said the faculty makes a long-term commitment to the campus programs and the students.
“(Culver) exemplifies that because he’s been here since he was a grad student at Iowa in the mid-70s,” said Lambrecht.
Lambrecht said that that continuity is important.
“Some programs go through shifts all the time… and that’s very difficult on a program, whereas (Dr. Culver) has been here the whole time.”
Music professor Susan Stone said Culver inspires students to play better then they think they can.
“I’ve seen it happen over and over with our concerts, you know if you heard individual students play you would think, ‘well how it this going to work?’ And then you get into rehearsals and we go through stuff and think about music and learn to engage as an ensemble, and concerts turn out sounding pretty wonderful,” said Dr. Susan Stone. “It’s a great experience for the students and the audience, and that’s because he has a gift working with students.”
Culver said he has guest conducting and teaching opportunities lined up for the following year after he retires. His next concert will be held on Oct. 10 at 8 p.m. in Centennial Hall, while his final performance as the Augustana Orchestra director will be April 30, 2016, also at Centennial Hall at 8 pm.