By Zachary C. Person
Dr. Christopher Chapman, Oregon State University’s inimitable director of bands, keeps a calendar that may lead you to believe that this humble musician has somehow found the ability to be in two places at the same time. Not one to rest on his laurels, this recent inductee to the American Bandmasters Association, maintains a multi-faceted (and extremely busy) schedule that extends his influence far beyond Corvallis. Each of his musical circumstances provides a distinct creative outlet that taps into the seemingly boundless capacity Chapman has for quality music making. Equally at home in front of his three regular ensembles: the top-notch OSU Wind Ensemble, the Oregon Brass Society (a British Brass Band in Springfield, Ore.) or the Portland Wind Symphony, a semi-professional wind band, Chapman’s unceasing quest to improve his craft has earned him respect – and guest conducting stints – all across the country.
Arriving at Oregon State University by way of the University of Washington (where he earned his doctoral degree), the University of Nevada – Las Vegas, and The Ohio State University, this Columbus, Ohio native views himself first and foremost an educator whose goal is to bring out the best from every musician he works with. Engaging with peers on a state and national level allows for continuous honing of his craft, and his drive for personal growth as a musician translates immediately back to the experience of his OSU students. Chapman believes that, as he sharpens his own skills, the skills of his students will also rise; and as his students become more highly skilled, he then must continue to improve in order to push them further.
With a goal of extracting the very best from every group of musicians that he works with- and by consistently working with outstanding performers both on and off campus –Chapman has planted himself firmly into an elite group of wind band conductors whose insights are in-demand on a national level. Guest conducting and clinician trips this past winter term have taken him to three different states. In California, he was the conductor of the Northern California Honor Band and a clinician at the California Music Educator’s Association conference in San Jose. Trips to Michigan, to work with the Mona Shores High School band, and Florida where he was a guest of the Palm Beach Winds complemented his guest conducting work closer to home. He has recently been a guest of honor bands in the Beaverton school district and the Oregon Music Educator’s Association district 13, and has given clinics to bands in Newberg and Lebanon, Ore. in addition to judging at several middle and high school music festivals.
On campus, Chapman also wears many different hats. In addition to being the director of the outstanding OSU wind ensemble, he also chairs the music scholarship committee, oversees instrumental music education student teachers and participates in search committees for music faculty openings. As director of bands, he is responsible for managing the entire band operation at OSU, organizing an annual wind symposium, and facilitating the OSU middle school and high school band festivals.
By his own count, Chapman was engaged in over twenty different musical performance, clinical or adjudicating activities – during winter term alone – on and off campus. Among other planned activities, this spring he will take the OSU Wind Ensemble on tour to Taiwan, host the world-renowned composer David Maslanka, and premiere a major new work for wind band (with the OSU Wind Ensemble). When summing up the many lives of Christopher Chapman, it becomes immediately apparent that his diverse array of activity is all related to one thing: better serving his students here at OSU.