Maestro of the Choir
Though he’s now retired, Martin County High School’s former OPUS choral director Ronald Corbin has left an unforgettable legacy.
The year was 1980. Ronald Corbin had just arrived at Martin County High School to take up the role of director for OPUS, the school’s choral group. His aunt, who was dean at the time, called him and talked him into coming down from central Florida to interview for the job.
The group consisted of around 25 students when Corbin first took the reins. By the time of his retirement this year, it had doubled in size and grown into an internationally acclaimed high school choir.
As a child, Corbin had no idea music would take center stage in his life. “I was always on the ball field,” Corbin explains. He originally wanted to major in physical education in college.
Altamese Powell, choir director at Lincoln High School in Tallahassee, had other plans. She lured him in under false pretenses and tricked him into auditioning for the choir. The seed was planted. “It was good someone knew what was good for me better than myself,” he laughs.
Corbin received a scholarship to attend Florida A&M University, where he studied music under Dr. Rebecca Steele. He then taught at several schools before answering that fateful phone call from his aunt. Having no idea how long he would stay, he made the move.
He remained at Martin County High School for the next 34 years. A combination of great kids and great parents made Martin County High the ideal place to teach. “They made my job easy,” Corbin insists.
Mr. Corbin, as he was affectionately referred to by the students, had a more meaningful role than simply teacher. “The choir members were like my children,” he says, and he treated them accordingly. He played the role of confidant and mentor, guiding his students in much the same way his high school choir teacher guided him. He held class every day, and organized a summer camp during the three weeks in June right after the school year finished. The members of OPUS traveled during spring break, giving performances all over the United States and in international cities such as London and Paris. Even students who had no involvement with the music department knew his name in a positive light.
And he did not fade away after graduation day. Corbin keeps in touch with many of his choir members after their high school years, reinforcing his positive influence. James Paul, choral director of Jensen Beach High School, is one of his former students. His connection to the next generation’s musically talented runs deeper still; his own daughter, Candice, majored in vocal performance and digital arts at Stetson University.
Today, Corbin has taken a different role in the high school scene. He remains a familiar face on campus and runs the scoreboard for the basketball and volleyball teams. The community remembers him with glowing accolades.
Looking back, he never could’ve predicted that one phone call and the choice to move would have such a rewarding outcome. “Best decision I ever made,” he recalls with a smile.