December 3, 2023
Sarah Jane O'Keefe -- even after many changes to the School of music, one thing remains constant — the music.
Sarah Jane O’Keefe — even after many changes to the School of music, one thing remains constant — the music.

Ten years after joining California Baptist University’s faculty, Dr. Judd Bonner faces the fall semester with not only new students to craft and mold but a new title as well — dean of the Shelby and Ferne Collinsworth School of Music.

Bonner said he feels grateful to have this opportunity and he is optimistic about the continued growth of the School of Music. Currently, CBU has four choirs, six small groups and a new symphony orchestra.

“We believe that the more people involved in music the better,” Bonner said.

Bonner is not the only person in a new position. This year, every choir conductor job is filled with a new conductor.

— Glenn Pickett, assistant professor of music, will take Bonner’s previous position as the Male Chorale conductor.

— Jamie Killion, assistant professor of music, will conduct New Song. Dawn Gilmore, assistant professor of music, will lead Women’s Choir.

— Marissa Calin will conduct the Chamber Choir and small groups.

Conducting CBU’s new symphony orchestra is Noemy Wheeler, lecturer of Music.

Bonner said the School of Music is excited about continuing with the school’s philosophy of music.

That philosophy “is that music is not only for art’s sake but rather for communicating God’s truth of the gospel,” Bonner said. “We also want to make sure that quality music is not just a thing of the past.” The choirs at CBU have received annual praise by Lancers, as well as strangers.

“People would come up to us at our choir concerts and say that our performances were some of the most meaningful worship experiences they had ever had,” Bonner said, “which are some of the best compliments the choirs have ever received.”

Music is a way of communicating with the Lord through worship, Bonner said. As dean, Bonner said he hopes to see not only the school continue to grow but also his students.

“I want to see each student grow in Christ, sophistication, interpersonal relationships and also music,” Bonner said. “There are many life lessons one could learn from studying music, and I hope the students get to experience each one.”


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