Pioneer Spotlight: G. Daniel Fairchild
G. Daniel Fairchild, professor of music, was recently honored for his 45 years of service to the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. He is originally from the Chicago, Ill. area, coming to Platteville in 1970 at the age of 26. He was destined to become a music teacher. “I knew what I wanted to do since I was a freshman in high school,” he said. “I am one of those wonderfully lucky people who has been fortunate enough to call his passion his profession. It has been my lucky lot in life.
Fairchild earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education from the University of Illinois. He has taught a variety of music courses at UW-Platteville. In addition, he has worked with the UW-Platteville Symphonic Wind Ensemble and Symphony Orchestra, has served as director of the Dubuque Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin College Brass and Percussion Teachers Ensemble and Rountree Ensemble.
He is an active clinician and conductor, working with thousands of middle level, high school and college musicians each year.
Professionally, Fairchild has recorded chamber music on the Music Minus One, Composers Recording Inc. and Heliotrope labels.
You have entered your 46th year of teaching at UW-Platteville. Why the longevity?
I’ve found Platteville, the community and the university to be my home. I don’t need a Big 10 university behind my name. I’ve been very satisfied here. I’ve raised my family here. I got here and within the first year I fell in love with the students. They are wonderful students. The university is a very comfortable place. It was never like I was involved in a huge bureaucracy. My brother, who taught his entire life at the University of Illinois, came here many times to do some clinic work with my bands. He said he wished he had the wonderful students that we had because they were so easy to work with.
Music plays a big role in your life. It’s your passion. Why is it so important to you?
My father was a professional musician. My brother was a university music professor and my wife is the band director at the high school here in Platteville. It’s not just a job, it’s a profession and a hobby. I’ve enjoyed every type of music there is, from playing symphonies to doing dance jobs with Paul Hemmer in Dubuque, Iowa for 25 years.
One question I’ve never liked people asking is “How long before you retire?” I could have done that 15 years ago. I have no interest in that. Every August, about midway through August I’m ready to go. When I’m no longer ready to go then my letter will be on the dean’s desk.
If music wasn’t an option as a career what would you be doing?
I probably wouldn’t be successful. This came up when I was part of the committee that was interviewing candidates for the chancellor position. We were at a local restaurant. It came out that I would love to run a restaurant. I would love to be a chef. It would be called G. Dan’s. We were parsing out who would be the business manager, who was going to be the maître d’ and things like that. I’d love to do that only if I didn’t have an investment in it. I really enjoy cooking and I don’t call myself a chef.
Up to this point has there been a highlight of your career where you look back and say, “That’s why I do what I do.”
There were several first time events in the early 70s, including when I took the marching band to play at halftime of the Green Bay Packers game. That’s when they actually broadcasted the halftimes. Another one was when the wind ensemble played at the opening for the Center for the Arts. I always said that not in my lifetime would there be a Center for the Arts here. When I got to come on stage and have my group play the first note ever heard in a public concert there that was absolutely thrilling. I never thought we’d have a place like that. For a musician if I start thinking I could find hundreds; when the Rountree Ensemble performed on public radio one of the most difficult pieces. Plus, teaching the incredible students and working with the scores of faculty members who have been in our department.
Tell me about the Holiday Gala.
The former late choral director Gerald Darrow and I decided one holiday season that we should do something special, not just the end of the semester holiday concert or band concert, so we put together a combination of ensembles. We did a one-night event. It was in the Center for the Arts. We thought, let’s charge some money for this and raise money for some scholarship funds. The first year we did it we didn’t expect to turn people away, but we had people seated everywhere we could. It has gone on since then and it has been in different hands. It has become a tremendous success.
This year’s Holiday Gala is Friday, Dec. 4 and Saturday, Dec. 5 at 7:30 p.m. at the Center for the Arts Concert Hall.
Interview conducted by Dan Wackershauser, University Information and Communications. To nominate someone for the Pioneer Spotlight, contact email@example.com.