Father and son duo bring expertise to Department of Music

Posted May 04, 2012

Dr. Paul Piersall and son Rick Piersall have brought their talent and expertise to the ACU Department of Music for decades. Dr. Paul Piersall has been chair of the Music Department for 26 years. Rick Piersall serves as opera director and is known for his musical performances and research in the U.S. and abroad.

Dr. Paul Piersall will retire from his role as department chair this month. His final performance took place at the Spring Orchestra Concert where he sang a selection from Ermani by Verdi and arrangements of "I Got Plenty O' Nuttin" and "Some Enchanted Evening."

A faculty recital and retirement reception on May 2 honored Dr. Piersall. Dr. Pauline Bjorem and Samuel Cook presented musical selections in honor of Dr. Piersall. Friends and colleagues from the community were in attendance.

Rick Piersall hopes to carry on the family legacy as his father's time with the department ends. Rick has been actively involved in international performances and research. He recently defended his doctoral thesis and received his Doctorate of Musical Arts in Vocal Performance from Rice University.

In April, Rick traveled to Avignon, France, where he performed with the New York Center for Contemporary Opera in The Secret Agent. This was his second performance in the production, the first performance being in Szeged, Hungary this past October.

Through a Pursuit grant, Rick was able to take four vocal performance students to France as interns: Arielle Collier, senior from Mesquite, Texas; Jarret Ward, junior from Houston, Texas; Dean Willis, junior from American Samoa; and Jennifer Magill, freshman from League City, Texas. The students assisted backstage with costuming, sets and props. Collier, fluent in French, created subtitles for the performance as well.

Ward recounts his experience in France. "Watching Piersall work and perform was inspiring. To see how he handled himself in such a high pressure situation gave me perspective to how the world of opera operates. I am more driven than ever to not only pursue a career in opera but also to be the best God has called me to be. Working backstage was a whirlwind. If we weren't sewing costumes, we were building sets or running around the theater taking notes for the show's directors. We got to see all of the minuscule details that go into making a flawless show."

Visit the Department of Music for more about the program.