Passing the Baton, Gleefully

Midway through the Glee Club Alumni Club’s emotional farewell performance for outgoing director Bruce Montgomery [“Monty in Full,” May/June] in April, the man being feted made a surprise announcement. Rather than wait until after his retirement on June 1 to reveal the identity of his successor, Montgomery told his audience (and the past and present members of the Glee Club on stage) that the University had already approved his chosen candidate: C. Erik Nordgren (seen above, conducting). Judging from the applause and cheers that filled the Zellerbach Theatre of the Annenberg Center, it was a 
felicitous choice.
   Nordgren, a graduate student in chemistry, has been a member of the Glee Club for the past eight years and a student conductor for the past six. He will serve as director on a part-time basis, and will not inherit Montgomery’s other mantle, that of associate director of musical activities.
   “I think it’s just sinking in, even now, the magnitude of the job and all the details that are bound to be involved with it and how much of a challenge lies ahead,” said the 31-year-old Nordgren, who will have his hands full with a doctoral dissertation this summer. “I certainly know the Glee Club’s traditions and how the group works on a day-to-day basis, but there’s a lot to be said for making the transition from being one of the singers to wielding the baton, as it were.”
    “I felt all along that this appointment should be someone who would have a feeling of continuity with what has been so successful in past decades,” said Montgomery. “Erik may or may not wish to continue for the decades that I have, but I felt that, at least for the transitional period, he would be absolutely ideal.”
   Nordgren acknowledged that it was doubtful “whether anyone could really fill those shoes” being vacated by Montgomery, who led the Glee Club with legendary flair for 44 years. Nor is he intending to make any radical changes any time soon: “I’m not one to fix things that aren’t broken.”

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