Richmond brothers' reunion concert benefits music scholarship

(09-02-2011)

Inspiring and instructing students to reach their full potential as musicians is the legacy of Ed Richmond, Adams State College emeritus professor of music. His absolute dedication and contribution prompted his family, friends, and former students to honor his memory with a special tribute.

Richmond taught vocal instruction for nearly 20 years, and passed a year after his retirement. Soon after his death, a scholarship was established in his name. Motivated by the desire to record his brother's music and increase the scholarship endowment, his youngest son, Don, recorded the "Roots and Branches" CD whose profits benefit the scholarship.

Taking the project a step further, Don, and his brothers, Ed and Jim, will perform in concert and donate all profits from ticket sales to the scholarship. The event will be preceded by tours of the recently renovated Adams State Music Building and a dedication of the recording studio in Ed Richmond's name.

Vicki Ford, Adams State alumna, said Richmond was a wonderful voice professor and coached many students who went on to be fine singers. She believes she was "extremely lucky" to have been assigned as his studio accompanist. "He taught me more about musical phrasing than any other professor, and taught me how to watch the performer and actually breathe with the performer so that there was no 'hiccup' between singer and accompanist."

Currently Ford accompanies a professional opera singer, and said she is able to do so with "confidence" because of Richmond's guidance.

Richmond and his wife, Anne McIsaac, were professional singers in the late 30s and early 40s in the Chicago music scene. McIsaac sang with the Lyric Opera Company. After receiving his degree from the prestigious University of Chicago, Richmond taught music at Michigan State University and the University of Iowa before accepting a position at Adams State in 1962, where he remained until retiring in 1981.

Richmond coached vocal students, produced opera workshops and helped recruit promising high school music students. "My father was very passionate about teaching and cared deeply for his students and their progress. I didn't take voice lessons from him until his last years of his life and he was amazing teacher -- a true master at teaching voice with a seemingly endless bag of tricks to help students reach their full potential," Don said.

He remembers whenever the family prepared to leave for a trip, his father would need to swing by his office one last time before leaving. "He was extremely engaged and committed to his work." His father would sing operatically around the house, his "classically trained operatic voice would rattle the walls."

His parents passed their passion for music on to their children, five in all, the three brothers and two daughters, Mary Ann and Kathy. "Their love of music transferred the appreciation for the depth and quality in music as well as the sensitivity to feel the depth and quality. We were exposed to the majesty and magic of music," Don said.

Tracy Doyle, Music Department chair, arranged a tour of the recently renovated Music Building for Don and his wife, Teri McCartney. Don said his dad would be ecstatic over the growth and development of the program. One stop was the recording studio, soon to be named in Richmond's memory.

As a professional musician, and owner of the Howlin' Dog Recording Studio, Don said live performances and recordings are two different avenues for music to travel. He spoke of the "pure magic" when energy is exchanged between performer and audience. Yet, he described recording as being more like a painting, creating a beautiful piece of art. "You still hope for the emotional reaction in the listener."

Although their parents didn't outright encourage their children to pursue careers in the music field, Don believes they were pleased that both he, and his brother, Jim, became professional musicians. Jim has played with national touring acts such as the Tennessee Hat Band and is currently a part of the popular group Three Fools on Three Stools. Ed's career in technical manufacturing and computer network administration did nothing to dampen his love of music and he continues to sing whenever the opportunity arises.

"We do not have a recording of my parents singing, and my mother had a gorgeous voice," Don said. He was determined not to let this happen to the next generation and arranged to record "Roots and Branches" with his brothers.

The Richmond Brothers Reunion and Fundraiser Concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, in Leon Memorial Concert Hall. Tickets are $20, all profits benefit the scholarship, and are available at the Adams State Music Department or the Narrow Gauge Bookstore in Alamosa. Currently the "Roots and Branches" CDs are available for sale at Firedworks, Treasure Alley, the Alamosa Food Coop, Narrow Gauge Books, and the Green Spot, all located in Alamosa.

Tours of the Music Building are from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. with the dedication of the recording studio at 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 1. These events are free and open to the public.