ne of Dr. Staheli’s most visible students is Dr. Ryan Murphy, associate music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and conductor of the Temple Square Chorale. Murphy graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor’s degree in piano and organ performance and pedagogy and a master’s degree in choral conducting.
“The thing that impressed me the most, and that I still carry with me today, is the passion of Dr. Staheli’s musical interpretation,” says Murphy. “He always insisted and encouraged his students to sensitively seek out the depth and the essence of the music, from a simple hymn to the most complex literature. He was always completely engaged with whatever music was in front of him, [and] he had the conducting gesture to match that interpretation. Dr. Staheli’s conducting is incredibly sensitive. He is able to draw out of his singers amazing artistry and nuance. These are definitely things that I try to emulate in my own work.”
taheli’s mentoring has had a continuing impact on Murphy. “The high standards that were instilled in me during my time as a student have endlessly influenced my own work,” he says.
And then—perhaps not surprisingly—Murphy acknowledges the history of influence in his own education: “I don’t remember [Dr. Staheli] speaking much of his own experience as a student, but I know that he was fond of John Halliday and still used a handout from him in his classes.”