Rita Stinner is a proud alumnus of University of Nebraska at Lincoln where she earned both Bachelor of Music Education and Master of Music degrees. Rita dedicated her professional endeavors to an improved quality of life in Nebraska, to the arts, and to music education. Additionally, Rita has been active in economic development, tourism, public relations, marketing, philanthropy and a solo singing career. She taught for the Lincoln Public Schools for 17 years before moving to western Nebraska. Ms. Stinner became Director of Choral Activities at Western Nebraska Community College in 1997 and rounded out each year acting and directing for Theatre West Summer Repertory, Foothills Children’s Theater, and has proudly performed for Nebraska Repertory Theater in Lincoln.
Rita reorganized The Valley Voices Community Chorus in 1990 and founded The Valley Eight, both of which performed live on NPR Big Band Spotlight, at Oregon Trail Days, the Willow Tree Festival, and The Valley Voices at Carnegie Hall. WNCC Collegiate Chorale performed at two Nebraska Governor’s Inaugurations, on NPR Live from the Mill, and bi-annually at Carnegie Hall. Rita celebrated her retirement from WNCC performing in the opera Medea in a month-long engagement with WNCC students in the Festival of the Aegean on the island of Syros, Greece. She served as the North Central Chair of the American Choral Directors for Repertoire and Standards in 2 Yr. College Choirs, and on the boards of both Nebraska Music Educators and Nebraska Choral Directors. She teamed with the Omaha Symphony “Link Up” project, with support from Nebraska Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts, Nebraska Cultural Endowment, Union Pacific, and WNCC, where students, community, and professionals all joined forces for a memorable educational experience. Rita currently serves on the boards of the Nebraska Cultural Endowment and UNL Friends of Opera.
Rita’s philosophy of music education was not to create stars, but to whet the appetite of her students for music and the arts, for music is not merely for the concert hall, but for school, community, therapy, worship, and the aged and infirm. Rita’s dream is to build a love and appreciation for the arts which may evolve into patrons of the arts for the future of culture. Rita’s path often reflects a quote of Helen Keller, “I long to accomplish great and noble tasks, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as if they were great and noble”
Rita Stinner has been fortunate over the years to receive many generous awards, including PTA and FFA Honorary State Life Memberships, Phi Theta Kappa Award for Teaching Excellence, Scottsbluff Star-Herald “Citizen of the Year,” Nebraska Arts Council Governor’s Award for Excellence in Arts Education, and induction into Nebraska Music Educators Hall of Fame.