Legendary Choral Director Celebrated at Founders Day Chapel

Dr. Ray Robinson, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Music, was honored Tuesday (4/3) during PBA's annual Founders Day Chapel in the Rubin Arena of the Greene Athletic Complex. The PBA Alumni Choir serenaded Dr. Robinson and many guests with an original composition by Associate Professor of Music Dr. Tim Thompson. Dr. Mike Simoneaux was the guest speaker.
Dr. Ray Robison is surrounded by family, friends and former students at a reception in the Rinker Boardroom of the Warren Library prior to the Founders Day Chapel.

In words and song, Palm Beach Atlantic University on Tuesday paid tribute to one of its preeminent faculty members, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Music Dr. Ray Robinson.

The celebration took place in the Rubin Arena during Founders Day Chapel, an event sponsored by the PBA Alumni Association as the annual event commemorating the University’s establishment in 1968.

During the program, a choir made up of more than 30 School of Music and Fine Arts alumni sang In toto corde meo (Psalm 111), a piece written by Associate Professor of Music Dr. Tim Thompson and directed by alumna Dr. Elizabeth Everett ’96 in honor of Dr. Robinson.

Also, Dr. Michel “Mike” Simoneaux, president of Brewton-Parker College and former dean of the School of Music and Fine Arts at PBA, spoke about the man who arrived in 1989 “to bring a long tenure of music and artistic development to PBA that brought honor and recognition to the college with the stated intent of glorifying God.”

Dr. Simoneaux and former University President Dr. Claude Rhea were instrumental in bringing Dr. Robinson to PBA. Dr. Robinson was a world-renowned choral director who would become a recognized specialist in the music of Felix Mendelssohn, the contemporary Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki and the 17th century German composer Heinrich Schutz.

In his 14 years at PBA, Dr. Robinson specialized in maintaining high expectations of his students.

“Ray was always seeking to honor the Lord with excellence,” Dr. Simoneaux said.

The real proof of what Dr. Robinson and the department accomplished appeared “when we began putting our students in the good graduate schools, seminaries and on into leadership positions in music and churches and schools,” Dr. Simoneaux said.

From time to time, Dr. Simoneaux said he and Dr. Robinson would have discussions about what a Christ-centered music school should look like and how the school’s mission should exemplify Christ. He said some of Dr. Robinson’s thoughts were: Don’t throw stones at new expressions of worship; choose music that honors the Lord both musically and textually; and always do your best and look your best for whatever performance you have.

“Even if you’re singing in the dining hall, tune the piano and look good,” Dr. Simoneaux recalled Robinson saying. “We honor the Lord by doing our best.”

Those lessons, and many others, have remained with many of Dr. Robinson’s former students. “He just demanded the very best all the time,” said Judy Marchman, a 1999 PBA graduate who is in her second year of pursuing a doctorate at the University of Miami.

Marchman took part in the alumni choir, along with Shanpatrick Davis ’99, who now serves as choral director at Everglades High School in Miramar.

“He has been such an influence on our lives,” Davis said. “A lot of what I learned from him I carry into my program.”

Ervin Marton ’98 said he and several other graduates were prepared to drop everything to be present to honor their former professor.

“He touched our lives so deeply, and it will stay with us for the rest of our lives,” he said.

Dr. Robinson retired in 2003 as a distinguished professor of music, but he has remained active both at PBA and in the community. In 2004, he was appointed music director and general manager of the Palm Beach Symphony. He also hosted a weekly one-hour radio program on WXEL-FM called Ovation South Florida.

Earlier this year, the Palm Beach County Cultural Council presented Dr. Robinson with a MUSE award for his contributions to the arts and culture of Palm Beach County.

“It’s humbling to know that people do indeed appreciate quality, the type of quality we have at Palm Beach Atlantic University,” Dr. Robinson said. “We must always look to God for guidance in adapting to our changing world and delivering excellence.”


Category Tag(s): 04/2012 General News