Messiah nurtures the path of celebrated choral director

H. Royce Saltzman ’48

Messiah Academy & Junior College

Eugene, Ore.

For Royce Saltzman ’48, music has always been an integral part of life. “As a boy living in Abilene, Kansas, I attended a church that did not allow musical instruments in worship,” he says. “The congregation sang unaccompanied hymns in four parts … .” In 1940, his parents moved to Grantham, so Saltzman and his sister could attend Messiah Academy. His love of music, nurtured during the years he spent at the Academy and the Junior College, became a lifelong career.

Saltzman says that Earl Miller, who was the head of choral organizations at Messiah at the time, was a major influence. “He probably changed the course of my life,” he says. “There was a time that I came to [Miller’s] office for a lesson, and he spoke to me about the fact that I should go into choral music and conducting. I remember that vividly. It was sort of a compass that pointed me in the right direction.”

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in music from Goshen College in Goshen, Ind., in 1950, Saltzman worked at Messiah from 1950-52, teaching choral music and leading choirs and the men’s glee club. He went on to earn two more degrees in music—a master’s from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and a doctorate from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, Calif.

Saltzman is a retired executive director of the Oregon Bach Festival that he co-founded. His resume includes, among other things, the positions of university conductor and president of the American Choral Director’s Association. He continues to be active in the arts, following his passion for music. “Choral music is an international language,” he says. “It is a language that crosses barriers of religion, politics, differences in spoken language, cultures.”

 Over the years, he has received many accolades for his work, including Messiah’s Distinguished Alumnus Achievement Award in 1980. “I look at that time at Messiah as a real focus in my life in terms of wanting to be in music and be a choral conductor,” says Saltzman.

—Noreen Livoti  ’02

Posted in 1948, Alumni, Arts, Class of ..., Majors & Minors, Messiah Academy & Junior College, Music | 3 Comments »

Posted on September 16th, 2010

3 Responses to “Messiah nurtures the path of celebrated choral director”

  1. Conrad Baker Says:

    I remember enjoy music at Upland College that involved Royce Saltzman. Also spent time talking to his father at the Spart-Inn on Upland Campus.

  2. Sara Says:

    Saltzman is a great teacher, although I’m not lucky enough to be his student.

  3. George B. Biggs, Jr. Says:

    Good to see this feature on Royce Saltzman. I heard his name given in laudatory terms when I came as a music faculty member 1954-57. I was Prof. Ron Sider’s replacement for two years when he went to Eastman for his doctorate. I also was guided by Prof. Earl Miller as he allowed me to take the Messiah College Choir on spring tour as well as teach music theory, music history, and hymnology and begin a student orchestra. God’s gift to me as my first Theory class to teach ever, was a class of four: sop. Edith Miller, alto Cora Wingerd, tenor Nelson Wingert, and bass John Eyer. I taught longest at Barrington College, RI; got my doctorate in theory, organ, and music ed in 1968, and retired in 1989. Still singing and composing and leading music for an inter-denominational Taize service.


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