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Cecil Riney to retire as chorus director for Wichita Symphony Orchestra

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, Sep. 9, 2013, at 6:05 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, June 26, 2014, at 1:27 p.m.

Cecil Riney is retiring – again.

But he will still be working.

The legendary musician, who made his name leading the Friends University’s Singing Quakers, has decided to retire from his second job as chorus director for the Wichita Symphony Orchestra, a position he has had for 20 years.

He alerted the symphony staff of his decision earlier this summer.

Riney, 81, retired from Friends in 2005, after 45 years there. His tenure with the symphony will end when the 2013-14 season is up, meaning he will still prepare the choir for two shows: the annual Spirit of the Season, a free holiday concert on Dec. 10, and the Classics Concerts on April 5 and 6, which will feature Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 9” and Vaughan Williams’ “Serenade.”

“I’ll still keep involved in a lot of things, but I felt like 20 years was kind of a good round number,” he said. “You have to make a decision sometime and give somebody else a chance.”

Riney said he plans to keep his three other jobs for the time being – teaching occasional classes at Friends, directing the Friends University Singing Quaker alumni chorus, and leading the choir at his church, Chapel Hill United Methodist.

Riney was born in Liberal and went to high school in Stafford. He graduated from Friends, then earned a master’s degree in music at the University of Kansas. He taught high school for two years, then earned his doctorate from the University of Southern California.

He said he would leave the symphony with many fond memories, particularly of the four conductors he has worked with over the years, the most recent being Daniel Hege.

“I’ve always enjoyed my conversations with him about music, especially as they related to his preparation of the chorus to perform with the orchestra,” Hege said. “I’ve also talked with so many people over the past few years who have been touched by Cecil as a person and as a choral director, people who have raved about being a part of his choral groups and ensembles.

“I just feel very fortunate to have worked with him for the last three years and am glad I got to do that before he stepped down.”

The symphony will soon announce its plans to launch a search for Riney’s replacement.

Reach Denise Neil at 316-268-6327 or dneil@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @deniseneil.

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