Highly respected professor dies while on tour in Italy

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“Energetic, positive, professional.”

That’s how Kathleen Bruce, director of forensics and associate professor at San Joaquin Delta College, describes recently deceased friend and colleague Germán Águilar.

Germán Andrés Águilar, director of choral and vocal activities at Delta College, died of a heart attack on June 7, 2014.

Águilar was on a three-week tour with California State University Long Beach’s Bob Cole Conservatory Chamber Choir when he collapsed on stage in Florence, Italy.

He was 34 years old.

“I thought he was a great teacher, who could really relate to his students, and find a way to give them the push they needed…,” said Eric Wombaugh, a former student of Águilar’s.

“He was always available and always open to talk,” Wombaugh said. “About anything, not just with me, but even more so with his vocal students.”

On campus, Águilar conducted three choirs, taught courses in music history, theory, and musical theatre, along with coordinating the applied music program.

Águilar also founded the Valley Youth Chamber Choir and had recently had been confirmed as the new artistic director of the Stockton Chorale.

“Germán was indeed one of the finest choral directors and teachers Delta College has had the privilege to work with. He touched the lives of students, faculty, staff and the community in a most profound way. You could never forget his joyful smile, his artistry and love for his work. As Germán directed his choral performances, you could see he was dancing with the angelic hymns of heaven,” according to a news release from Delta College.

Born on July 17, 1979 in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, Aguilar moved to Tucson at nine-years old.

He earned three degrees from Northern Arizona University, two bachelor’s degrees in music, as well as a master’s degree in choral conducting.

In 2010, he was named the Outstanding Graduate Student in Music at Northern Arizona University.

In Águilar’s memory, the Germán Andrés Águilar Memorial Choral Scholarship (#5395) has been established at the NAU Foundation.

Águilar served two years as Assistant Conductor of the Master Chorale of Flagstaff, and was it’s acting artistic director in the spring of 2010.

From 2003 to 2008, Águilar developed successful choral programs in the Mesa (AZ) public school system.

Many memorials were held in Águilar’s honor.

Kathleen Bruce spoke at Delta’s campus memorial.

At the service, one of the recurring themes was what Águilar told his students often:

“We’re all family. Go make your family proud.”

Águilar’s teaching style will be missed, specifically that mantra to his students.

Águilar was as prominent public figure here at Delta College and will be greatly missed.