Episode 034



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Paul Rardin is the thirteenth Artistic Director of the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia. He is also Elaine Brown Chair of Choral Music at Temple University, where he conducts the Concert Choir, teaches graduate conducting, and oversees the seven-choir program at Temple’s Boyer College of Music and Dance. Rardin previously taught at the University of Michigan and Towson University, where his choirs appeared with the Kirov Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and Baltimore Choral Arts Society. Under his direction the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club performed at the 2010 American Choral Directors Central Division Convention, and in 2015 the Temple University Concert Choir performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra in Bernstein’s MASS under the direction of Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

Rardin has served as a guest conductor for all-state choirs in fifteen states, for divisional honor choirs for the ACDA and Music Educators National Conference, and for Manhattan Concert Productions at Lincoln Center. He has presented clinics for state, regional, and national conferences of the American Choral Directors Association. His engagements for 2015-2016 include conducting the Temple University Concert Choir in conference presentations for the National Collegiate Choral Organization and ACDA Eastern Division; guest conducting the Ohio All-State chorus and PMEA District 12 chorus; and guest conducting at Carnegie Hall with Manhattan Concert Productions.

Rardin is a graduate of Williams College and the University of Michigan, where he received the M.M. in composition and the D.M.A. in conducting. He has studied conducting with Theodore Morrison, Jerry Blackstone, and Gustav Meier, and composition with Leslie Bassett, George Wilson, and Robert Suderburg. He has also participated in conducting master classes with Helmuth Rilling, Charles Bruffy, and Dale Warland. His arrangements of spirituals and folk songs are published by Santa Barbara Music Publishing, and his articles, many on the topic of contemporary music, have appeared in the ACDA publications Choral Journal, Troubadour, Resound, and Bel Canto.

Rardin lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife, Sandy.


The moment you knew you’d dedicate your life to music

Paul feels as if he didn’t have an “aha” moment about his career until grad school. He entered graduate school as a composition major because it was what he did best. Conducting was high on Paul’s list but he didn’t have the credentials to be accepted to grad programs for conducting. He realized eventually, however, that he enjoyed conducting more because it involved interaction with people. Composing, on the other hand, was a solitary activity. As a result, he spoke to his conducting teacher about switching majors. He believes his passion for conducting has carried him through, especially in the early years when he felt as if he maybe wasn’t as well equipped as he should have been.


Worst musical moment

Early in Paul’s career, Paul was preparing the Brahms Requiem for his college choir in Baltimore for a performance with the Baltimore Choral Arts Society.  They had a relatively short time to learn the piece. The event’s conductor, Tom Hall, came to the college to rehearse and asked his choir to translate the text. Paul hadn’t reviewed it with the choir! He had “swung and missed” during a great teaching opportunity, Paul believes. After that, he made reviewing the translation an integral part of his teaching.

Another failure, with an upper-case F, notes Paul, was during an opportunity to conduct the select choir at his most recent position, even though he was only the associate director. He took out all of his “someday” scores and scheduled them all. It was too much. “They sang the concert scared,” he notes of the choir. Paul also says he never really connected with the students because he was in sprint mode. He failed because he didn’t take the time to look at his resources nor did he provide strategies for learning, and should have reduced the load.

Since that time, Paul has learned to lead by example, following the “Gumby Creed”. (Listen to the podcast for more information!)

The proudest musical moment

Early on in his career, Paul loved conducting Haydn’s Creation at Towson University. More recently, Paul’s singers sang at the National Collegiate Choral Organization, doing works by Paul Hindemuth, a performance that made him quite proud.

Your “Forte”

Being good at a number of things – being a so-called “Jack-of-all-Trades” – is Paul’s forte. It allows him to walk into a rehearsal and be spontaneous and make a connection. He feels he is especially good at providing inspiration for his singers.

Most excited about right now

Paul is excited about preparing the Bach Motets with the Temple University choir for a performance conducted by Helmuth Rilling.


Book Discussed

The Robert Shaw Reader: A collection of Shaw’s letters and notes



Dr. Robert Shaw’s Email –rardin@temple.edu