Growing up in Fond du Lac, Wis., Richard Zielinski was the typical driven student who sampled nearly everything his school had to offer. He played football and basketball, ran track, sang in the choir and played trombone and percussion in the band.
By the time he reached college, Zielinski began focusing more on vocal music, eventually earning a degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He would go on to complete masters and doctoral degrees in choral music. I recently met with Zielinski, an engaging, outgoing individual whose enthusiasm for his work is infectious.
Now in his first year as director of choral activities at OU, Zielinski conducts the University Chorale and the OU Opera Chorus. He and colleague Mark Lucas also established the Singing Sooners, a student group that performs OU spirit songs in addition to lighter, more popular fare.
"I had known about OU’s choral program since the days of Bev Henson (1973-78) and knew there was a singing spirit here that was intriguing,” Zielinski said. "When I arrived in September, I had a sense that these students really just wanted to sing. Whether we’re doing a classical music festival or performing university spirit songs, to me it’s all singing.”
Zielinski came to OU with a broad range of choral conducting experiences. He taught four years at the State University of New York at Plattsburg, six years at Mercer University in Georgia, seven years at Indiana State University and eight years at the University of South Florida.
While in Florida, Zielinski also established the Richard Zielinski Singers, a 40-member professional choir made up of "some of the dearest friends from my past.