Courtesy Eric Matanyim Concordia University Chicago

Concordia University Chicago recently awarded its first ever Endowed Chair marking an exceptional milestone for the 150 year-old university. The Fred and Jane Wittlinger Endowed Chair for Music Performance was bestowed upon Dr. Richard Fischer, distinguished professor of music.

The award will allow Fischer, of River Forest, Illinois, to continue sharing his passion for music through teaching and conducting while also serving as a resource to the wider church and international community. The endowment will also benefit Fischer in guest conducting at various performances and music tours, writing music, and representing Concordia-Chicago at various workshops and conferences. Fischer, an esteemed conductor and guest conductor, will honor the Wittlingers’ endowment by continuing to captivate audiences with his careful arrangements and precise direction.

“There are so many faculty members who are deserving of this, and I mean that,” Fischer said in reaction to the announcement. “I’m excited even more to keep integrating faith and music in all that I do. I’m elated and so happy with this honor.”

Fischer has been head of instrumental music at Concordia since 1974. In addition to his work at the University, he is in demand internationally as a guest conductor, clinician, and adjudicator. He was named to the “A Team” of University Professors by the Chicago Tribune in 1994, and has held positions with numerous professional organizations, including service as the communications director for the World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles (WASBE) in preparation for the 1995 conference in Hamamatsu, Japan. Since 1989, Fischer has served as music director for Ballet LeGere’s production of the Nutcracker Ballet, and for 18 years he served as the assistant conductor of the Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest.

Fred and Jane Wittlinger, of Longboat Key, Florida, whose son is a graduate of Concordia-Chicago, said they not only appreciate and enjoy the music program at Concordia-Chicago, but also the students and their integrity in carrying out the University’s mission.

“What better praise is there than Concordia-Chicago students with that kind of mission and that kind of leadership,” Fred Wittlinger said after reflecting on the University’s mission statement, which includes integrity and compassion. “I saw it in my grade school teachers in 1945 (Concordia-Chicago graduates); those same values existed then and they exist today.”

“All I have to say is that the Lord works in mysterious ways,” Jane Wittlinger said. “Never did I think we would ever have the money to do this.”

Dr. Fischer said all the Wittlingers asked of him was, “to keep doing what I’m doing. But I will do it with more of a sense of urgency; that is truly the way to represent such a gift.”

Ultimately, the endowed chair brings greater stature to the university. For this reason, its purpose is indelibly aimed at furthering the mission of Concordia University Chicago.

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