The revival of GCC’s choirs

During the 2019 Spring semester Glendale Community College’s long-time choir director Dr. Kevin Kriegel announced that he was leaving the school to go back to his home in Wisconsin. His announcement left everyone in the music department in heartache since his iconic and highly respected legacy at Glendale would be coming to an end. This is where current choir director, Dr. Nina Garguilo, jumped in to take over Kriegel’s throne, where she would now conduct all four of the choirs: Community, Concert, Chamber and Vocal Jazz.

Although Garguilo, affectionally known as Dr. Nina, was new to directing GCC’s choirs, she was not new to the campus or directing. Garguilo was already a teacher at the school where she teaches several music classes such as Broadway Solos, Class Voice, Vocal Pedagogy (the science of singing) and voice lessons. She has also taught English, French, German and Italian diction, Jazz ensemble, Choirs and Music Theatre Directorship. She received her bachelor’s degree in Vocal Education from the University of Mississippi, received her master’s degree from Arizona State University in vocal performance and received her Doctorate in Vocal Pedagogy.

To top it off, she is also a current member of the Phoenix Chorale, a prestigious Grammy-winning advanced professional Chamber choir in Arizona. Since Garguilo already had a history with GCC’s music department, was already known by several of the choir members, and having lots of relevant experience and knowledge under her belt, it was no surprise for her to step in.

Garguilo describes her stepping into Kriegel’s spot as “tough” but she mentions she was already comfortable with the students and was excited for the choir. She was excited for the changes of her new four choirs explaining that she was going to go for a more a cappella route instead of Kriegel’s accompanied pieces.

Garguilo differs from her predecessor in that she “strives for vocal independence and creating an atmosphere of just the voices”. She also points out that she had “lots of similarities” with Kriegel in their music taste but that she deviates into multiple languages with her choirs.

Garguilo was officially the new choir teacher for the following semester, but she had to go on a maternity leave before the Christmas concert. While she was gone, she had a friend, who is a fellow member from the Phoenix Chorale with professional conducting experience, step in. Garguilo describes leaving as “very hard”, but explains that she “had everything planned out” in her absence and “was happy to see the choirs execute a beautiful holiday program.”

In Spring 2020, Garguilo will finish her first full semester and will direct both concerts for the semester. Although she is back, she now has her newborn with her to which she now has to face new challenges on top of being a choir director for many choirs.

“It is incredibly hard balancing mom life with school life,” Garguilo said.

She feels that she always has one foot in school and the other at home with her baby. She mentions that now with her baby, she has an entire other career on top of her teaching job and all her other duties. Having a new baby has even taught her new mom and working techniques such as “how to hold a baby while typing with one hand”. Even with all the extra work, Garguilo says she would not change it for anything, and she loves her job as well as being a mom.

Garguilo has big plans for the choirs of GCC and knows the students can pull it off. She states that “participation in choirs has numerous health benefits-which science is just starting to uncover” and that on top of being “physically healthy”, it is also “emotionally fulfilling”.

She says choir and music “is so meaningful to me to see so many people from different walks of life and different experience levels come together and sing beautifully. Garguilo and all 65 choir members are currently working towards their first choir concert of the semester, “Devotion and Deceit” which features a variety of languages such as German and Lithuanian. That concert is scheduled for March 5th at 7:30pm in the PAC.