Professors Ronald Burrichter and Brenda Smith: Spirit of Gainesville nominees

Ronald Burrichter and Brenda Smith

Published: Sunday, September 1, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 at 11:44 a.m.

I am pleased to nominate UF Music Professors Ronald Burrichter and Brenda Smith for the Spirit of Gainesville Awards in the Arts category. I have worked with Ron for almost 30 years and his wife Brenda on our faculty for over 20 years. Rather than self-promoters, they are constantly giving of their time and talents to the community and the greater world.


Category: Arts

About Ronald Burrichter and Brenda Smith

Occupation: Professors of Music

Years in Gainesville: 20+

Spouse They are spouses

Although, I could note numerous contributions and volunteerism in the arts, I would like to specifically highlight two: The Sing for Life project with the University of Florida Arts in Medicine program and The Oak Hammock Singers. Previously the Arts in Medicine program for Parkinson's patients focused only on art and dance, but Professors Burrichter and Smith infused music, particularly the use of the breath to produce sounds to sing and founded the Sing for Life project. The project attempts to use singing to assist in their speaking voices that typically deteriorate with the disease. Patients have literally “come alive” through the Sing for Life program. Burrichter and Smith are also the directors of the Oak Hammock Singers and as such are trying to support their CCRC concept, a "Continuing Care Retirement Community" that uses lots of the "ILR" (Institute for Learning in Retirement) efforts. People come there because they really want to continue to grow intellectually, not just go to a "nursing home", so Burrichter and Smith try to build their musical learning through song. There are a very wide range of interest and experience levels, some who have never sung, several who can't match pitch but wouldn't miss a rehearsal, some who say they put singing aside while doing a busy work life, and some who say they always wanted to try but never had the chance. Ages go from about 70 to mid-90s and Burrichter states they include, “One fellow who considers himself a songwriter, a few who see themselves as significant soloists, one good accordion player, the whole ball of wax, so to speak. It takes a lot of time and effort but the rewards are marvelous, even though both activities are completely volunteer. We will not be selling CD recordings or performing Palestrina, but we have some fun and meet some great people we otherwise wouldn't know.”

I can think of no person or in this case, two people more deserving of the Spirit of Gainesville Award for the Arts than Ronald Burrichter and Brenda Smith. I am proud to know them and so pleased with their work in our community.

Nominated by Russell L. Robinson

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