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SOU music passes baton to new director of bands

Christine Lundahl is the new director of bands at SOU and assistant professor of instrumental music. She also has assumed the reins as artistic director of the Rogue Valley Symphonic Band. Photo by Richard Craig.
Derek Keller has joined the SOU music faculty as assistant professor, teaching music industry and production, theory and skills, composition, and guitar. Photo by Bernadette Mondok.

When face-to-face classes resume at Southern Oregon University this fall after a long pandemic break, there will be two new faces in the Oregon Center for the Arts at SOU Music Program.

Christine Lundahl has been named assistant professor of instrumental music and director of bands. And Derek Keller, also a new assistant professor, will teach music industry and production, theory and skills, composition, and guitar.

Lundahl was hired in April after graduating with a doctorate of musical arts in wind conducting from the University of Michigan.

“I have been working since then,” she said, “making plans for the fall and getting to know the music faculty and local band directors.”

She will direct a brass camp the first week of August and begin in-person classes when school starts Sept. 22.

Besides teaching classes, she will conduct the concert band (wind ensemble) and jazz band at SOU and has assumed the reins as artistic director of the Rogue Valley Symphonic Band.

“There is much to be excited about,” she said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to create live music with my students in person and connect with an audience once more.”

Lundahl hopes to expand the band program by hosting a variety of new events in the Rogue Valley and at schools throughout the state, promoting what SOU has to offer music students.

“I’ll also be focusing on more diverse composers in our performances and building strong relationships between SOU and local band programs,” she said.

The ensembles will hold concerts at the Oregon Center for the Arts Music Recital Hall on South Mountain Avenue. Among events scheduled this fall are a Halloween concert by the Rogue Valley Symphonic Band Oct. 24, complete with costumes and candy, and Dec. 9 concerts by the SOU Wind Ensemble and Jazz Band.

While at the University of Michigan, Lundahl conducted the symphony and concert bands, assisted in the undergraduate conducting sequence, worked with athletic bands, and was director of the UM band alumni concert ensemble.

Prior to graduate study, she spent four years as the director of bands at Liberty High School in Kissimmee, Florida, and two years as director of band and orchestra at Westridge Middle School in Orlando.

Lundahl plays trumpet and performed with several Florida wind and brass groups.

“I’m thrilled to be moving to Ashland,” she said, “and joining such a fantastic community with a history of supporting the arts.”

Keller, the new commercial music instructor, is an award-winning composer and performer. His music explores the intermingling of contemporary concert music, jazz and rock.

He started work at SOU in January.

“And what a year it’s been,” he said — “new classes, new gear, new ensemble, and two EPs (extended play recordings) released in six months.”

Part of his work is directing the music industry and production program at SOU, rebranded MUSIX. In the program, students are grouped in a variety of ensembles to write, perform and produce original music, taking inspiration from the sphere of popular music.

Additionally, the university will roll out a new curriculum to include sequential courses in audio and music production, leading to certification for students.

“I also teach courses about the music industry,” Keller said, “such as music industry studies, publishing, licensing and copyright.”

He enjoys producing multimedia pieces in which he is the creator of everything in them — from the music, images, audience interactivity and programming. “Every piece is a new universe,” he said.

MUSIX’s first EP, which includes four pieces, can be found at https://soundcloud.com/mip-at-oca-at-sou. A second one drops June 28.

Keller holds bachelor’s and master’s of music degrees from the University of Georgia and a Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego.

He is an accomplished guitarist and vocalist. His music and performances are available on the Tzadik and Centaur labels.

Reach Ashland writer Jim Flint at jimflint.ashland@yahoo.com.