Music professor Rossi to return to monastery


Submitted Photo

The Eastern Symphony Orchestra performs under the direction of music professor Richard Robert Rossi.

Olivia Swenson-Hultz  , Associate News Editor

Richard Rossi, a music professor and director of orchestral and choral activities, is leaving behind 18 years of teaching and directing to return to a monastery.

Rossi had previously lived and worked as a monk at St. Vincent’s Archabbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, the oldest Benedictine monastery in the United States and largest in the Western Hemisphere, but he left in 1996.

Submitted Photo
Music professor Richard Rossi

“I’m returning to the monastery to serve as a Brother and not as a priest,” Rossi said.

Born into a Catholic family, Rossi initially attended school at St. Vincent’s College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania after receiving The Gabriel Bird Scholarship. During his time there, he said he would pray with the monks.

Upon graduating with his bachelor’s, Rossi decided to become a monk himself in 1985.

After spending 11 years serving the monastery, Rossi said he wanted to pursue a career teaching music.

He went on to receive a master’s of fine arts from Carnegie Melon University in Pennsylvania and a doctorate of musical arts from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.

Following the deaths of his brother in 2014 and his sister in 2017, Rossi said he felt “woken up,” and his longing to return to the archabbey grew stronger.

“I want to go back to St. Vincent not just to utilize my talents but for community prayer which is four times a day,” he said.

Rossi said he might be participating in ministry music while at the monastery and playing the organ during prayer sessions, where he’ll also be participating in prayer.

“It’s still up in the air exactly how I’ll continue my music at the point,” Rossi said.

Resa Fuller, a freshman music performance student, said she transferred to Eastern from Ball State University because of the reputable music department at Eastern and her experiences working with Rossi during Choir Camp at Eastern.

“He’s quite the personality and very energetic and lively. When I was in camp here I learned a lot being in choir with him. I think he helps to create really great musicians,” she said.

Clint Johnson, a music conducting master’s student, said he credits Rossi as the main reason he chose Eastern to obtain his master’s degree and that Rossi has been his mentor and teacher since he has been here.

“Eastern’s music department will continue on, but we’ll definitely have something missing. He has been a very present musical force for many years and has actually brought in excellent performers and put on excellent performances,” Johnson said.

Johnson said Rossi has been a massive influence on him and has opened his eyes to many different conducting techniques, teaching philosophies and musical history.

Rossi is the director of the Eastern Symphony Orchestra, the Eastern Symphony Chamber Ensemble Concert Choir and the Oratorio Society.

Olivia Swenson-Hultz can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].