(I’m waiting to publish this post until an official obituary is released, as I don’t want to put anything out there before the family does… And the obituary is now posted. CLICK HERE to read.)
I just found out this morning that a beloved professor/choir director from undergrad just passed away last night: Dr. David Sprenkle.
I’ve had other favorite professors pass away in recent years – Mr. Pearson (my voice teacher at NEC), Dr. Schmidt (my music history teacher at WCU.) But today’s news of Dr. Sprenkle’s passing intensely effected me – so much so, that I felt I needed to share some thoughts here.
I spent four years singing in the Renaissance Chamber Choir at West Chester University, and three of those years were under Dr. Sprenkle’s leadership. He was also my professor for my first semester of choral conducting class, was my advisor for part of my time at WCU, and was probably a teacher of mine for another class/seminar or two that I’m forgetting about right now. (It has been a long time since I finished my Bachelor’s degree; one does forget a detail here and there.)
Chamber Choir was life-changing for me. I had already had an interest in “early music” before participating in the choir, but through Doc Sprenkle, I learned so much music from the Renaissance period – and it became a true musical passion of mine. It still remains probably my favorite period of time in music history. Chamber Choir was the perfect combination of creating beautiful music, learning the style and history, AND having fun. So many rehearsals ended with English country dances, where the entire choir danced, and laughed, and sang. (“Gathering Peascods” anyone?)
We put on Madrigal Feasts and organized Renaissance Faires. We sang in traditional concerts in Swope Hall. And we performed in beautiful Renaissance costumes! We were often joined by the Collegium Musicum, which was the Renaissance instrumental ensemble at WCU. It’s where I first learned (and heard) what crumhorns and sackbuts were! (Still love that sound!)
In Chamber Choir, I got to hone my leadership skills and grow as an individual and team member. (During my senior year, I was president of the choir, and I couldn’t have been prouder!)
I made amazing friends, and got to sing with them a few days every week! I learned motets, madrigals, and songs that I’d later go on to perform and/or record as a professional singer. All because of Doc Sprenkle.
I often thought of Dr. Sprenkle as the years went on. When I recorded my Early Music Christmas CD (“Echoes of Christmas Past”) back in 2009, a good deal of it was influenced in part from what I learned from Doc. He had a direct influence on so much of the music I made in my life after WCU.
David Sprenkle was kind, infinitely patient, knowledgable, and always had a smile on his face. I can only imagine the countless other students that he also impacted – just like myself.
He will be truly missed and remembered for the wonderful teacher and person that he was. My deepest condolences go out to his family and friends, and everyone else that was touched and inspired by him.
Here are some photos I’ve been able to put together. I’ll add additional pics if I (or former classmates) can find more. (Thanks to Steph Buchert for sharing these photos.)