Orchestra Alumni Surprise Houglum
Feb 01, 2011The annual Pops and Popcorn concert by The Concordia Orchestra always features a dose of mirth and a surprise or two.
But few surprises can ever rival what 23 horn players did for conductor Bruce Houglum at his last Pops and Popcorn concert Jan. 29. He will retire at the end of the academic year.
They genuinely surprised him with a loving tribute to what he means to them as a conductor, teacher and friend.
As Houglum was about to conduct the final piece of the concert, the overture to “West Side Story,” in walked a multi-generational group of alumni and student horn players.
“I had no clue, no idea whatsoever what was happening,” says Houglum.
Scott Campbell ’83, a Sauk Rapids, Minn., music teacher, asked him to conduct them in a performance of “Land Sighting,” one of Houglum’s favorite pieces composed by another beloved Norwegian, Edvard Grieg.
“I couldn’t believe it,” says Houglum. “I’m not sure how I kept it together through the piece. I was astounded, overwhelmed. I can’t believe so many are still playing after all these years.”
A misty-eyed Mary (Ronning) Joarnt ’85, St. Louis Park, Minn., spoke for many orchestra alumni as she hugged Houglum after the concert.
“It’s a treat to play for you again,” she says. “All of us want you to know how influential you are in our lives.”
Campbell and Jenna Wolf ’07, St. Paul, Minn., used social networking to recruit their fellow horn players.
“So many of us absolutely love the man,” says Campbell. “Seeing the surprise and shock on his face was priceless. He’s touched so many lives as a musician and a person. We all wanted to play for him just one more time.”