Written by Madalyn Chapman
Come this fall, RC will have lost one of its most friendly and familiar faces.
Dr. Joseph Blaha, a professor of fine arts, has decided to retire. He currently serves as the Director of the Bands here at RC, and teaches a number of music courses as well. Those who have had classes with him will miss him dearly as both a caring professor and individual, and one who was always up for a good conversation.
Dr. Blaha is more than just a great professor. He is also a gifted composer who has studied composition with notable scholars such as Michael Hennagin, Richard Hervig, and Gunther Schuller. The composition played at the 500th anniversary of the Reformation – “Celebrating the Mighty Fortress” – was based off a Lutheran hymn, but composed entirely by Dr. Blaha.
Another one of his pieces, “The Night’s Watch,” won the Michael Hennagin Prize in Composition in 2000.
More of his compositions have been played on the public radio, and played not only across the United States, but in Europe and South America as well.
Dr. Blaha is also a talented musician, performing on the trombone, bass trombone, euphonium and piano when he can.
Members of the RC Jazz Band can fondly recall rehearsals where, in lieu of conducting, Dr. Blaha played along with them on his keyboard. He played euphonium for the infamous Karl King, and also served in the United States Army as a member of the Army Band “Pershing’s Own” for five years.
“He is a mix of unpredictable and caring,” said junior Julia Riccardi, who has served as his assistant, as well as played the clarinet under his conducting baton. “You never know what he’s going to do or say, but he treats his students as if they were his own children.”
The RC community wishes Dr. Blaha all the best in his retirement.