June 20, 2018
OXFORD, Miss. — Debra Spurgeon, associate professor of music, taught at Ole Miss for 17 years before retiring this May.
Originally from Moberly, Missouri, Spurgeon earned her undergraduate degree in Music Education at Northeast Missouri State University, now known as Truman State University, and received a master’s degree in from the University of Arkansas. After this, she pursued her Doctor of Musical Arts training at the University of Oklahoma.
Spurgeon has been professionally active in American Choral Director’s Association, having served as the National Chair for Women’s Choirs, as President of the Oklahoma Choral Directors.
“I hope to keep professionally active as a guest clinician, presenter, and as a private voice teacher,” said Spurgeon.
In her free time, Spurgeon enjoys gardening and working in her yard. She also sings in the St. Peter’s Episcopal Church Choir.
When asked what she will miss most about the Ole Miss Music Department, Spurgeon said she will miss the daily interaction with both her colleagues and students.
“I particularly enjoy preparing students to be music teachers. There is such a tremendous need for good music teachers,” said Spurgeon.
Spurgeon said among some of her favorite memories is getting to sing with the Ole Miss Choir as a soloist. Another highlight was in 2008 when the Ole Miss Women’s Glee was selected to perform at the Southern Division Conference in Louisville, Kentucky.
“I will never forget my last concert at Ole Miss. Dr. Trott invited a former friend and choral colleague from my previous University, Dr. Charles Chapman, and asked Reese Norris, teacher and composer from Hernando, to compose a piece for my 43 years of teaching. It is a beautiful work with a text based on a prayer by Martin Luther King Jr., titled, “Who I Am.” They rehearsed and prepared the work without my knowledge, making for a stunning surprise that evening. Cara Jones, the choral grad students, and Dr. Trott all conspired to pull off a wonderful tribute that evening,” said Spurgeon remembering her farewell concert this spring.
A few more of Spurgeon’s favorite memories while at Ole Miss include: performing at Carnegie Hall with the Ole Miss Concert Singers; European travel, which involved conducting in Salzburg and Paris and touring with the choir in Leipzig, Prague, and Dresden; and performing for President Barack Obama at the White House during a Christmas holiday event.
According to Spurgeon, she has no definite plans for what she is going to do in retirement, but she is anticipating spending time with her parents in Missouri and traveling.