Dudley Birder to Retire From St. Norbert College
Dudley Birder, artistic director of the Dudley Birder Chorale at St. Norbert College, will officially retire as director of the chorale effective June 1. Birder founded the chorale at St. Norbert in 1974.
"Dudley has been an iconic figure at St. Norbert College and in the greater community," said St. Norbert College President Brian Bruess. "For 60 years we have been the recipient of his vision, hard work and irrepressible spirit. He truly embodies the Norbertine tradition of radical hospitality, bringing hundreds of people to campus each year to enjoy music theater and chorale performances."
In July 2017, Birder, named "The Music Man" by local media, stepped down from Summer Music Theatre at St. Norbert College after a 55-year run. Birder will turn 91 this month.
"Audience members have come to expect nothing but perfection in his concerts and performances," said Pat Sands, president of the Dudley Birder Chorale Board of Directors and a member of the chorale. "Enjoying his selections of classical, sacred, show tunes and contemporary music is a joy and will be remembered and appreciated for a lifetime," added Sands.
"How do you say goodbye to the man who retires as the chorale conductor and artistic director, who has done more for music at St. Norbert College and in the Green Bay area than any other person? You don't. You say thank you a hundred times or more," said Tom Hamilton, chorale member since 1976.
Birder began his teaching career at St. Norbert in 1958. He retired from his academic duties in 1993. During his tenure at the college, Birder founded and, for 34 years, directed the Chamber Singers and the Swinging Knights.
He made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1990 and returned five times. Since 1997, he has appeared as conductor for the annual "Holiday Pops" at the Weidner Center. Dudley Birder Hall, a first-class music facility, was named in his honor in 2013. The college awarded Birder the President's Medal in 1999 "for his dedication to his art and service to the community." Birder will receive an honorary degree from St. Norbert College at commencement on May 13.
The chorale board voted to name Birder artistic director emeritus of the Dudley Birder Chorale.
The chorale will continue at St. Norbert College under the direction of Interim Director Kent Paulsen.