On Thursday, December 2 at 7:30 PM, join the SCF Music Program in the SCF Neel Performing Arts Center for our final concert of the semester. “BELIEVE!” brings you all your holiday favorites and will feature the SCF Guitar Ensemble, Men's Choir, Women's Choir, combined Concert and Chamber Choir, and the SCF Bradenton Symphony Orchestra.
Listen to conductors Rex Willis, Melodie Dickerson, and Dr. Robyn Bell as they talk about the selections on this concert, what the "BELIEVE!" theme means to them, and how special this semester of music has been for everyone in the SCF Music Program.
Tickets for this concert may be purchased in advanced by going to scf.edu/neel or at the door 45 minutes before the performance.
Hearing is believing!
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Robyn Bell: It is always exciting to sit down with colleagues here at the state college of Florida and talk about music making and students and concerts and trials and tribulations and successes as well. And today we have two of my colleagues doing just that Melodie Dickerson. After a vocal studies at SCF and the performing arts department chair and Rex Willis, director of guitar and composition at SCF are here to talk with me about our upcoming annual holiday concert this year called beileve on Thursday, December 2nd, at 7:30 PM in the SCF Neel performing arts center. But we will probably talk about a whole lot more. So Rex, Melodie, welcome to the club.
Rex Willis: It's great to be here.
Melodie Dickerson: Glad to be back in the. but the club,
Robyn Bell: the hub of the club, our offices are probably within five feet of each other and we don't, we don't really see each other until we sit down for a podcast. Isn't that sad?
Rex Willis: Yes. And this lovely little four by eight room.
Robyn Bell: Yes, it's cozy. I know. It's my studio. Yeah. So we are wrapping up our first semester since sort of fully reopening here at SCF. We have audience members, whew masks are optional. And many, many faculty and students are exercising that option. And this upcoming concert will be our final performance of the semester. So Rex. What about this semester has been challenging and rewarding. And what's the guitar ensemble performing for this upcoming concert called?
Rex Willis: Well, uh, one of the things that has been wonderful and it's funny, it seems like it's a theme. Uh, when we're in our concerts is, Hey, we have an audience.
We have an audience right here in the room, where did all those people come from? So, you know, it's a flashback to having a, nobody in the seats last year and it has been wonderful. It almost feels normal. In fact, many times it does. So that's been a huge plus, um, you know, the, uh, the pandemic has heard of all of us in many ways. So many ways and of course, uh, attendance, at least as back up, but our ensembles in some cases have been down in numbers and that's been a challenge for my guitar ensemble. Uh, I'm used to having twice as many people, uh, but one of the things that has come out of it is each person is exposed. You know, you're not, uh, any, like if you have an orchestra in your, uh, in the violin section, 10 other people, uh, if you're the only person playing guitar one or guitar two, it used to be, you'd have two or three people. So, uh, one of the things that I've, I've heard comments from people is, wow. The is humble is small, but it's. Clean it's very precise, um, because everybody has to be responsible for their part. And it has made everyone try harder, work, harder, practice more and effectively,
Robyn Bell: no room for error when you're the only one playing it's perfection.
Rex Willis: And, and, and I have felt it in myself because I have been playing along with them. In fact, the holiday concert, we have. Uh, I'm not going to conduct, uh, I'm going to be, well, I'll be conducting with body language with head motion and, uh,
Robyn Bell: you're playing with them. I'm playing, I'm playing up. So that's great. Oh yeah.
Rex Willis: It's so, and so I actually feel a little nervous. Um, wow. I don't want to buzz that note or play the wrong note. And we were actually having a really nice time today recording. Uh, Dr. Carney was, uh, his, his technology class came in and set up microphones so that the students could practice recording, setting up the mix, getting the right levels, getting the headphones on, getting the balance. And, um, so we. Recorded today are actually our holiday program. And, uh, and I got to feel again what it was like to be on the stage playing cause it's been mostly, you know, conducting or directing and that sort of thing. Um, and uh, I asked the performers afterwards. I said, what was it like to have that microphone? In front of you and, um, uh, Alexis, she goes, oh, wow. It made me want to practice more. I said, yeah, that's what I've been doing again. So it's, it's been challenging, fun, uh, seeing a birdie grow in that sense. I, I miss having more people on the one hand and on the other hand, um, it's made us each individually better players.
Robyn Bell: And I'll say over the weekend, I've had five. Emails, well, four emails and a phone call from five potential students to coming in the spring. And one of them was today. A guitar student wants to be, yeah. So I gave him your information. I'm seeing it pick up the interest, you know, for many different reasons, but that's going to be great.
Rex Willis: Yes. Fantastic. I going to check that call out. She left a message.
Robyn Bell: Good. Yeah. So at least there'll be one more and guitar. Yay. So what are you guys performing on this concert?
Rex Willis: Well, one of the things that. Over the years that has been really cool about guitar ensemble is a lot of times people come in and. Wow. You know, I've seen one guitarist playing in a band, or I've seen one guitar is playing a solo or playing a concerto, but to see four or five or six to see a quartet, quintet, that type of thing. Um, most people have not, uh, you know, it's like, I've never seen anything like that before. And so. What we do is a wide variety of music where we split the group up. And, um, so it's kinda like, uh, like one person plays, what might be the violin part. Somebody else plays what might be the cello part. So we, we, uh, arranged music so that we split into the higher parts of the lower parts, the easy parts, the hard parts. And so our arranged. Are very unique and pretty much, I think different than all the other ensembles here, whether it's jazz, classical orchestra, symphonic band choir. Um, so one of the arrangements we're doing is deck the halls. Well, okay. We've all sung deck the halls at that time of the year, but what this arranger did, uh, Alan has. Is, he broke the group up into five parts and thus all five of us are playing, including me. And, and it's kind of a folksy rock and roll kind of feel to it. And it's very polyphonic, meaning that all five of us at times are playing five different things. And, uh, so then the next piece. Very very different piece arranged by our one and only Jan Weissmuller, uh, guitar ensemble member. The pavano famous pavano plus five by Gabriele far. Right. And it's a wonderful arrangement. Nobody had ever done it for a guitar ensemble or it had been done, but it wasn't to the numbers that we needed. Exactly. Five people playing. So we do a little. Um, arrangements or, or transcriptions where we adapt other music. And so this is just absolutely beautiful.
Robyn Bell: I love the idea of transcriptions, especially, you know, like in the band world, we have saxophones that came along so late in the fact that they can play the Bach cello suites is a, that's a transcription too. So take a piece of music that was written for one ensemble and just rewrite it for another in, it comes out sometimes even.
Rex Willis: Yeah. And one of the things, when a Chan does his arrangements, It is like composing. You're really making decisions as a composer. So it's not just a ranging. I mean, uh, you have to pick the key, that's going to work best. It's usually it's rarely going to be on the original key, uh, when it's going to be for a different instrument. Uh, if it was originally written for brass instruments that prefer flats, uh, strings prefer sharp. So there's a lot of decisions to be. And Jan did a great job with this arrangement. We're going to follow that with a Baroque composer that, uh, is relatively unknown. Um, his name is, uh, Johan Heimlich, Roman, you haven't never heard of him. Well, when you hear the piece, if you didn't look at the name, you might think it was a piece by Bach or Handel, uh, because it's got that same kind of sound. It's a really nice piece of music and it's a simple. Originally for Northwest shop and it's just one movement and a wonderful arrangement. And then the last piece we're going to do is a wonderful arrangement again, by Alan Hirsch, who did the first one that we're doing the deck, the halls, joy to the world, but this is joy to the world and, and kind of. It reminds me of a seventies rock band, which of course I was very young in those days, but I do remember that. And he's like, well, I think, I think I played in a couple of those pans, but, uh, it's fun because Jan and I, you know, were the, the mature. Ones in the group. We're actually like using guitar picks and here we are classical guitars. We're drinking, drinking during these kind of almost, uh, um, you know, rock and roll kind of chords. It's a lot of fun and it's, it's just a very lively, different kind of an arrangement. And I think. That will be a nice way for us to, to kick off the beginning of this concert. Cause I think our, we first on the program,
Robyn Bell: we get, we always start with the best first though. You ever, and this will, your program will make us believe in the guitar ensemble
Rex Willis: believe or believe part of the country.
Robyn Bell: I believe. Yeah, that's, that's great. I'm looking forward to the kind of book ending with some Christmas music within some classical guitar stuff as well.
Rex Willis: Absolutely. That's kind of some fun programming there
Robyn Bell: really cool Melodie. In addition to all of the normal day to day teaching and lesson giving that you do, you put on yet another musical this semester, a tremendous success, the mystery of Edwin Drood, one of the best shows. Probably the best show I've seen in my time here at SCF, but now you're onto this concert. So again, sort of same questions. What has been different for you this semester with your choirs better or worse? Good, bad, unique. And what are you programming with your choirs for this.
Melodie Dickerson: Well, I'm going to go back a little bit and talk about the mystery of Edwin Drood because some of the same students are in the choir and because Rex was also the music director and what a big job, what I see. From the students in that production. And it is in the choirs too, is a very interesting phenomenon in that I've had a lot of students step up and take leadership positions and really they say, it's my favorite word, invest into the process. And. Work on things themselves, taking a group of people, let's go run this dance number. Let's go run our scenes. Let's do this or that, or the other. Let's have a sectional outside of choir time. I'll take over a sectional inquire time. I'll warm up the choir. May I warm up the choir today? So a lot of people really. Taking that moment to go forward into be the leader, instead of just waiting for me to do everything. As an educator, I value that. And I know we all do because that, you know, the students are into the process. They're invested in the process. They want to do it. And not just because you told them to do it, they want to do it because it's important to them and they see the value of it and they want to do well on stage. So it was that way for our first concert as well, when we had our fall festival concert and brought both of the choirs together for one song.
Robyn Bell: I was having a conversation with somebody the other day, really just kind of bracket on our kids and our music program here. And it's really unbelievable what these students are doing this year, given COVID. And they said, what do you think that isn't? Cause I talk with other people whose programs are kind of shut down. They weren't allowed to rehearse, or they had to rehearse in a parking lot or garage or something. And I said, you know, I think we're so strong this year because we know. Let off the gas last year that we went full speed ahead as if nothing. Well, I mean, we had masks and PPE and that sort of stuff, but it, nothing stopped here. And I think that's made us so much better and stronger this year compared to some of our colleagues in the state.
Melodie Dickerson: Right. And we even had. I think it was within the first four weeks of classes, we kind of had a little mini COVID outbreak over here and we had students missing and you know, oh no, how are they going to manage it? But they all managed to get back into.
Robyn Bell: Remember when they announced it across the students, there was only 1.4% that had COVID and we were all in a room watching this meeting together. We go. Yeah. And all of those must be in the music period. I mean, it was a joke, but it
Melodie Dickerson: was, it kind of started a little thing and, but everybody, they recovered and they came back and, and stronger and better than ever. Of course, that's a lot when you miss two weeks and. But I think there is a lot of motivation and encouragement from the other students for that. So that I saw that in the musical and I see it in the choirs. Again, the numbers of students it's lower for me in the choirs than it has been in the past couple of years, but the level of student ability and participation has been great. Like Rick said, even though they're smaller, everybody really has to, they're stronger, has to be counted on to be stronger. And they know that it's like, if I'm missing, then we don't have that section or we don't have that thing. So for this concert, you kind of came up with the idea, which I thought was a wonderful, title, which is believe. And that kind of means. Different things. And when you talk about your part of the concert, then you'll see that we kind of went different ways with it, for the choir. I kind of took maybe more of a faith based belief, approach, but with different, very different types of music, I thought it would be a really good idea. We don't have just like a men's choir, a women's choir. And I always like to make that part of the programming at some point in the year. So we start our section, which we're after the guitar, we start our section with the men. Of both choirs, concert, choir, and chamber choir singing together.
Robyn Bell: Well, let me interrupt you, but you were able to get the schedule so that concert choir and chamber choir rehearse back to back because of our new facilities. Right.
Melodie Dickerson: Thank you. And I'm going to step back. I think you asked about why we're doing well because of course our new building has had a huge impact on that and just the space, the acoustical. Finally, finally having a call room dedicated with the appropriate acoustics and guitar ensemble has also been rehearsing in there, but that the students could go in there and rehearse. Right. And then that opened up our other room to be more retrofitted for a, an instrumental performing space. But I think the students they have. Place together. And they, there just seems to be a, a real community that they've built in that, that space. And then of course, our recital hall to have that every single Friday for our student recital hour, which you are in charge of and have the students perform in that space, it has been amazing.
Robyn Bell: It has been in, and because we have this additional rehearsal space, we could change. The rehearsal schedule for all the ensembles in a way that you could put concert, choir and chamber choir back to back into it makes this men's choir and women's choir possible. Yeah.
Melodie Dickerson: Done it in the past, but it's this way. And tomorrow will be one of those cases. Students from chamber choir, those that don't have a class and that it's like a majority they'll stay an extra 25 minutes. And the concert choir students will come in 25 minutes early.
Robyn Bell: You kind of take the last half of one class in the first half of the other and you blend them,
Melodie Dickerson: blend them together, and then they get together. And, um, so you get the two of the men from the demand and the chamber choir, and they will sing better lay him, which is a Nigerian folk song, which has been arranged by William Walen. And it I've done this piece before. It's just really, really upbeat, fun, lots of percussion, lots of percussion sounds and the body as well as instruments.
Robyn Bell: When I look at the title on the page, the first thing that jumps to me is Bethlehem. Right. It looks like Bethlehem. Does it mean that means that
Melodie Dickerson: the Nigerian language it's like, we're so proud and so happy that we have this father that's provided the son to us in Bethlehem and it's that joyous. It's a very joyful.
Robyn Bell: Because lots of percussion,
Melodie Dickerson: lots of percussion and to talk Capella,
Robyn Bell: no
Melodie Dickerson: accompanies. No, accompliment no sounded a competent, all the percussion is very rhythmic. The singing very rhythmic, but they're singing in four-part harmony. Wow. And then following that we have the women or the Sopranos and Altos, as I like to say too, and they are singing. A John Rutter who has a very famous contemporary composer and arranger he's arranged, an what would have been termed an old English hymn called tomorrow shall be my dancing day. And people might say, well, what in the world does that have to do with Christmas? Well, it's the story of how the baby was born. Christ is born and he calls to his church to dance with him. And the marriage of the crust and the church. It's one of the beliefs of the holiday season and it's accompanied by Ms. Lorraine. Meyer's. Just wonderful accompaniment and, and again, upbeat and beautiful and, uh,
Robyn Bell: well, you can go wrong with John rudder. His arrangements is just stunning. Great.
Melodie Dickerson: Just great. And the tenors and basses are enjoying theirs and Sopranos and Altos are enjoying singing together. Then. We are closing our last final piece as the choirs together by another very famous, especially in the 20th and 21st century composer. Eric, what occurred?
Robyn Bell: Oh, yes. I know Eric Whitacre,
Melodie Dickerson: Eric, and I've had my picture taken with Eric Waterford, but I wouldn't say I know him, but, um, it's in my office. Um, but he has done a masterful arrangement. Of a text by Charles Sylvestri called Luke's room room. And it is about the beautiful light that the Christ child brings.
Robyn Bell: Doesn't I mean, the golden light,
Melodie Dickerson: the beautiful golden light that the Christ child brings
Robyn Bell: golden a room query as to aluminate. Yes. Next is like,
Melodie Dickerson: okay. So. The students absolutely love this piece of music. It's beautiful. Acappella. It's actually three parts, soprano DVC two-part Alto two part tenor, two part bass with a short solo at the beginning. And it is that I call it it's expressive. It's atmospheric writing and it's a lot of the. Things that resolve their dissonance and then they resolve and it's you have this very atmospheric thing and a lot of the pieces soft and it comes to this one climactic moment, but the, the atmospheric part of the piece is what speaks to them and speaks to me. And it, the song is very quietly, very softly. It's the feeling. And I, to me, it was that feeling of belief of no matter what your faith or lack there of, I think we all have a faith in something, and we have a belief in something, even if we're believing in Santa Claus, even if we believe in the spirit of the holidays
Robyn Bell: or believe in yourself
Melodie Dickerson: and believe in yourself. But I think it's this, this light. And again, this year, After two years, I feel like light is what we have had to have and what we continue to need to have, because while we would love to be over this pandemic, we're not over it. We'll still continue to be in the middle of it, but we can be the. And I think that's what we do as musicians. We always feel like that's what we provide for others is an ability to, you know, whether it's guitar, whether it's orchestra, where that light.
Robyn Bell: Yeah. And before we started recording, we were talking about Rex, some of your compositions and how I heard something, not knowing you had done it. And I go, man, that sounds just like Rex, because you have, your music has its own voice. We talk, you know, joke that Johann, Sebastian Bach has his own voice, his music. It has a unique stamp to it just like yours and Eric Whitaker is another one of these with this, you know, he sleep in October and looks around, okay. They all have this, this dissonance to constants and he has his own. But what, what many of your, your second year students, if you don't mind pointing these out to her or I will, when I go. Uh, tomorrow to rehearse with them is before he really grabbed that voice when he was sort of experimenting and trying to figure out how to become a composer. One of his first big compositions, he did the symphonic band played last year and that's the Godzilla eats Las Vegas. And I don't know that our students would connect that this is the same composer. You would not even know this. Yeah. Yeah.
Melodie Dickerson: What a brilliant way of writing he has and he's made choral music kind of cool again,
Robyn Bell: right? Yeah. He's very hip and cool and handsome and kind of, I think he was selling luggage in London, you know, he's like on billboards, not even music related, you know, he's, he's got he at, he lives in Los Angeles now.
Melodie Dickerson: But he's just he's and he's done all these online choirs and people, and it's just,
Robyn Bell: he was on 60 minutes. They did a whole interview with him. Yeah.
Melodie Dickerson: But he's a very appealing, you know, and John Rutter. Not quite in the same way, but in a kind of a similar way, preceding him kind of that very cool thing. Um, so we're, we're doing that. And then we will be joining the orchestra for two pieces,
Robyn Bell: two pieces with the orchestra. We're very excited. I tell the orchestra you're already playing too loud. It's hard. It's hard for an orchestra that you used to just really opening up and letting their sound go. And you know, this through the musical is you have to really subdue your volume so that the important part, the words and the music are heard. So
Melodie Dickerson: he has, and, and they were able to do that because on the first night, when we had our first musical rehearsal with the orchestra, At the end of the rehearsal, I told your hair out. I was like, did they get quieter? Or we're going to have to cut people, you know, because it's like, Mr. Rose was like, oh no, Nope, Nope, Nope. We'll make it happen. We'll make it happen.
Robyn Bell: But I know the tuba player came to me, were the tuba mutes. I was like,
Melodie Dickerson: right. But you know, this is what we learn and what instrumentalists learn in that context that. You know, in the competent realm, it's a different thing.
Rex Willis: One after another, they were coming up to me and, uh, and you know, during the rehearsals, but then when all was said and done, um, you know, Sean and, uh, all the different performers, uh, they were like, wow, did we learn a lot through this process? And it's a whole different way to play a whole different way to think a whole different everything. And the experience is very different than.
Robyn Bell: And in rehearsals with the Bradenton symphony orchestra the past, you know, four weeks or so, I would say, okay, the, the choir sings here and they mark their music and sure enough, you could hear like the intro or the choir's not singing, they're playing out. And then when they have it marked, the car comes in, you just hear the volume drop. I don't really have to do anything. So we hope you're going to be happy with that. So we'll, we'll talk about those pieces in just a minute, but. Uh, when I came up with the concept believe and said, Hey, what do you guys think about this? And it's interesting, you said we all kind of took our own take on it. I decided to take a little bit different angle and with the SCF Bradenton symphony orchestra, I programmed all holiday music with what I think would be unbelievable topics. So it's all the things about the Christmas season that we know and love, but also kind of recognize aren't true. You know, so we're opening up with a really great arrangements of Rudolph the Red-Nosed reindeer,
Melodie Dickerson: I believe in Rudolph.
Robyn Bell: No, there's no such thing as Rudolph. I'm so sorry. I know this arrangement is great. It was actually done for the Boston pops out and it's just fun. A lot of Pitsa cuddle strings. It's kind of like Pitsa kata, poco meets Rudolph the Red-Nosed reindeer, and there's a section in the middle where it's double time and it just really flying. It's a fun, fun arrangement
Melodie Dickerson: matter Rudolph costume. If Mr. Willis like.
Rex Willis: Okay, next, next song here too.
Robyn Bell: So then the next song is unbelievable concept, but it also is a medley that involves a piece of music called believe. And so this is the concert suite from the movie, the polar express. And so there's four. Songs in there from the polar express that it's a medley, the first one of which is believe. And so that fit really well, but you know, spoiler alert, there's no such thing as the polar express is, it's unbelievable that there would be
Melodie Dickerson: a movie this past week. It was on
Robyn Bell: doesn't mean it's real.
Melodie Dickerson: It's not, but I saw the movie
Robyn Bell: and then there's this great jazz chart written. Big ban that I stole and I rearranged it for symphony orchestra, but we actually have four soloists that are soloing, like improv, solos, just like you would do a jazz group. Yeah. Uh, Nathan Reed on trombone is soloing. Joseph Marilla on trumpet is soloing. Brad. McDade our principal clarinetist who graduated from here. He soloing kind of Dixieland clarinet thing. And then Savannah Brady violinist is a great improv or she is selling, but it is a, here comes Santa Claus. So nobody believes in Santa Claus.
Rex Willis: I'm going to be careful of who I listen to this podcast now don't want to hurt anybody's feelings.
Robyn Bell: And then I really, really wanted to do frosty the snowman with the orchestra, but there wasn't any good arrangements. So I guess you both know frosty is not real. He doesn't come to Lockton. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So, I reached out Rex to one of your composition students who plays in the orchestra, Nathan Reed. And I said, Nathan, will you want to do an arrangement of frosty the snowman for the orchestra? And he was like, yes. And it's so cool. It's fast, you know, thump, thump, thump, bump up. He has a really moving. And then he goes off into what he calls the. Beethoven ESC section, where it goes really kind of minor and like frosty is mean, and it reminds me of Ghostbusters, you know, we're going to destroy the buildings with the state puff marshmallow guy, and then it goes back into the fun thing. And so. Nathan who guests conducted his, his piece, Western escapade on our fall festival. I said, do you want to conduct? And he's like, yes, this is so we have a guest conductor here, uh, doing frosty, the snowman whose own arrangement. And it's really good. I'm very proud of Nathan and you know, the work that you've done with them.
Rex Willis: Well, yeah, it's funny, Nathan, I just last week were reminiscing and we were at new college, uh, an event, uh, for the, uh, M and M um, music and monologues. Uh, Created last year. So we were doing a performance there and, um, and in the talk back, Nathan was like, yeah, uh, it was this time last year that Mr. Willis, uh, I approached him and said, Hey, I'm thinking about, uh, taking your composition. That was this time, last year and now has he's, he's getting commissioned, uh, here and, and, and, and other places. Yeah. He's just come alive, his understanding. And it's very interesting too, because he said something to me. Uh, I want to spend like about a month or two ago. And in fact, we were talking about it in music theory class, and he said, you know, it's amazing. The more I do this. I look at a score and I used to have to really, you know, go through it and, and, and maybe get my instrument out and play. And he said, I'm looking at a score now. And I know. What it sounds like in his head. So it's, um, it's a lot of work. It's a lot of studying. It's not just, uh, it's not just natural ability. It's a lot of hard work and, uh, he's putting it in so proud of him. And then, and I wanted to thank you for asking him yet again, to do an arrangement and putting your trust in
Robyn Bell: his experiences as an educational institution. Let's, let's work together. Yep. Beautiful. And then following your line, Melodie of what you took the belief concert. So then we're doing an arrangement of, do you hear what I hear with our violin teacher? Uh, Sonya gimme a shin being the soloist. So, that's going to be a nice, where it's something that's not that unbelief.
Melodie Dickerson: Right. And we did that last year. I'm glad that you're doing that. I don't know if you remember, but in our, we was a broadcast concert, only live stream and it was the one song we couldn't get the rights to.
Robyn Bell: Oh, yeah. So we had to go dark on it.
Melodie Dickerson: Yeah. I mean, they sang it, but they weren't able to sing it. So I'm glad it's going to be performed. It's one of my favorites and
Robyn Bell: Sun-Young Gemma Shin. She's a beautiful violin player and I'm excited for her to solo over the orchestra. I mean, it's not like a Mozart concerto, but she was very happy to be asked to do it. It'd be nice. And then. Outcomes the choir for our final two pieces on this concert, the first one we'll go back to the Boston pops, very famous arranger for the Boston pops, Leroy Anderson, same guy that did sleigh ride. And this is the medley of Christmas. It is. Yup. And it has 42 Christmas songs in it. I'm going to name them all. So sit back. No, not that many, but it starts with two that you're doing in their short snippets, but it starts with joy to the world and then deck the halls and then it goes into God, rusty, married, gentlemen. Good king Wenceslas, which is really hard to say hark, the Herald angels sing silent night. My favorite part of the arrangement, jingle bells, just fast and furious, old little town of Bethlehem, and then ends with a Desta Fidelis with just the trombones opening up on that. And. That's going to be really fun. It's one of my favorite pieces. I've known this since I was in high school as a trumpet player I've been conducting or playing it for 25 years. And it's just a staple in the Christmas repertoire.
Melodie Dickerson: Right. It's it's wonderful. The choir enjoying singing up, you know, it's, it's not a particular. Difficult arrangement for the choir to sing, but that's why I said, that's why you won't need the music. You can just stand up there and then also encourage the audience to sing. Because a lot of it is, you know,
Robyn Bell: we use this as a single long office
Melodie Dickerson: because it's unison and which means everybody's singing the same part at the same time. And I think that there's not a lot of places that people are singing together.
Robyn Bell: And the quality of this arrangement is in the transitions between these two. Songs and, and Rex, I told the orchestra, I said, if you're a composition major, you're interesting composing and you want to learn how to do a transition. You study Lee, Ray Anderson. He's just the expert at it. Amazing. Yeah. And it also makes it easy for the audience to sing along. Cause those transitions are just so perfect. Taking us from key to key tempo to tempo, tune, to tune, and then we end the concert. And this was your idea mistaken.
Melodie Dickerson: Switch it back. We'll see.
Robyn Bell: Oh, no. I mean, this piece of music was your idea,
Melodie Dickerson: but this piece of music was mine because of the belief. And it's one that I had purchased several years ago and wanted to do. And for whatever reason, decided not to do it at the time. But when you believe from the movie, the prince of Egypt and the scores written by Steven Schwartz, who most well known for his musical theater works, but it is. Beautiful, beautiful tune, employing Hebrew lyrics to in there and
Robyn Bell: fits our theme perfectly. When you believe.
Melodie Dickerson: When you believe then you can achieve. And that's what
Robyn Bell: Rex, I don't know why we don't plan more ahead or think of this ahead of time, because this would have been something to easily add the guitar ensemble to, to come back out with all of us on stage. We have to work on that next time
Rex Willis: we pop it, still do it, but it's
Melodie Dickerson: a little less now for next year.
Robyn Bell: Yeah. And so the choirs enjoy learning.
Melodie Dickerson: They love this song. It's a beautiful place. They love it. You know, a lot of these students grew up, they saw that movie growing up and they liked the story and Moses, and what happened in that story. And while it's not exactly. in maybe a holiday, it, the sentiment of it goes along with our belief,
Robyn Bell: you know, there's a difficult part for me on this particular arrangement, because the way that it is sold, the way the publisher sold it, there's the vocal parts. And. They kind of wrote it for concert band. And so the score is for band and choir, and then someone else came in and wrote string parts, but they're not included in the score. I got the parts, but then there's a separate score for just the strings. And so it's been really weird. I mean, I conduct no, no, no, but I conduct band and orchestra all the time and the scores are different and usually it's, it's pretty quick to change. But to conduct an orchestra, just looking at a band score is weird. Cause I've gone through and I've tried to mark violins, violas, cellos, but they actually at times play stuff that is not in the band score, you know, tremolo stuff. And so it's been just challenging for me personally, but because I'm not sure. Oh, your play now. Okay. Go. You know what I mean? But I think, you know, we've done a lot of holiday concerts and I just really excited about this one. I think it's going to be,
Melodie Dickerson: yes. You know, we've done some things where we were more interactive with our different ensembles in different ways, but I think it's, it's working out in, it's always a wonderful atmosphere and everybody's very excited. Yeah. The next to the last day of classes for the students.
Robyn Bell: It is. And in the past afterwards, we've had kind of punch and cookies. We can't do that for COVID, but maybe we can bring it back next year. That's always fun. And the music majors, you know, you're talking about the recital hour class on Friday, we are doing a secret Santa with the music majors. And so that week, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, they're supposed to bring little baby gifts and then Thursday they're. A real gift and reveal themselves. So that'll be fun after the concert to watch everybody go. I'm your secrets here?
Melodie Dickerson: This group of students, I think. Into that, you know, they're really jumping on the bandwagon with that
Robyn Bell: really cool Christmas tree we've put up, it looks like frosty, the snowman, frosty, the snowman. This dude is well decorated, our new music building, and
Rex Willis: I wanted to say something briefly about the belief aspect of this. Um, one of the things that's great about our faculty. Is I I've never gotten the sense that any of us, uh, the full-time adjunct, uh, just, we have such an amazing faculty and I never have gotten the sense of anybody going, oh, are we going to get through this? Oh, are we creative enough to get the job done? This is so much the exact. Every single one of us, I get this energy from everybody that we're going to do this. Um, Hey, I got this idea. Let's do this. Oh, let's combine list. Hey, what are you doing for your concert? And everybody has stayed so incredibly positive through all of this had so many great things. And I, I feel like I just wanna, you know, shout out to this faculty because I think the students are feeding off of our energy as well.
Robyn Bell: And we've continued to collaborate through all of this
Melodie Dickerson: and absolutely, and every concert I've gone to the summit. I've been so impressed with the level of playing or singing and creativity. And I'm going to speak, put my hat on as the department chair, performing arts, and I've been just incredibly happy with what theater has been doing. They had their play this past two weekends
Robyn Bell: on Friday. It was great. There's a podcast about it, if you want to
Melodie Dickerson: listen, but just the energy that they have brought to the table. And I think we've all worked together so well on various things through the semester. And so we're really making a cohesive, performing arts department totally. And, uh, Now working through and with the new Neal venues manager, Brent Dennison, and bringing folks on board and, and our new recital hall, having that ability to share that with the community has been facing,
Rex Willis: uh, one of the things about the newer Seidel hall I wanted to mention is, you know, the guitar ensemble being so small, uh, and even when we had more players, you know, classical guitar, acoustic, we're not electric. We have been rehearsing. Not just performing but rehearsing and the new recital hall and everybody takes it. I mean, you, you take it even more seriously because you sound so good. And, and when that sound reverberate reverberates, is that the light, um, you, you, you sit back and you enjoy the vibrations, the field, the blend, the mix, the match of all the, tambours, the quality of the sound and you want to be there. And the next time it said, folks you want to go back in there? Yes. Let's go back in there. We'd love the sound of that. It's been good for us being that we don't have a huge sound.
Melodie Dickerson: Yeah. And I want to say to one more thing, what a great leader you've been this semester with our music program, because it's been a, we've kind of had to change a bit, you know, new facilities, new way of kind of working things. And, um, I think it's been great and I'm really looking forward to hearing the Bradenton symphony orchestra. Yeah.
Robyn Bell: That little group has come so far in six years. Oh my. I even have, you know, there's adults that plan at that, the one of them sort of an older fellow plays trombone came up to me and he was a college band director. Very good musician. He just came up to me at break the other day out of nowhere. And he just said, I want to let you know. The growth in this ensemble is just amazing to me and what you've done. You know, they, it's not me. I mean, they're doing a lot of the work you're you're programming and encouraging and motivating, but if people really want to be a part of this and we have students high school students all the way through. You know, 84, 85 year old. So it's really cool,
Melodie Dickerson: such a great outreach into the community.
Robyn Bell: We have a lot of music, educators are playing with us now. So, um, it's, it's been a great group and they're excited about, you know, the holiday concert for them. It's kind of like their pops concert. You know, we use serious music the rest of the year, but it's going to be a fantastic concert full of wonderful holiday and uplifting music. And we really need that right now. We really needed fantastic. Someone at Michele pulls was over here. Can we just all be nice to each other, you know, just right this earlier today. So we have about a month off from classes and then as soon as we get back, it is off to the races with our statewide student artists competition. And our winter music symposium and the Melodie, you and I have a really awesome concert planned for February black history month. It's going to be called lift every voice and sing. So we'll be talking more about that around that time. And then Rex, you have your swamp fever guitar festival concert on St. Patrick's day.
Rex Willis: Yeah. Yes, we are commissioning, uh, four or five composers to write original music and we're all picking. Uh, I think one of the composers is going to write music about Spanish Moss. I think another one I don't want to give it all, but it's all going to be Florida themes.
Robyn Bell: That's always a fun concert, but this is the holiday concert. You do not want to be. And SCF music's annual holiday program this year called believe it's on Thursday, December 2nd, at 7:30 PM in the SCF Neel performing arts center. We should say that we've had our largest crowd of about 210 people in the hall in that it seats 830. So there's plenty of room to spread out and be socially distance. So come join us for some holiday cheer, you can spread out and really hear live music safely. You can get your tickets in advance by going to scf.edu/neil. N E E L or you can get them at the door, the night of the concert, Rex Melodie. It will be fond to put this concert on with you again. And I thank you for your time today and sharing all this great information about it.
Rex Willis: You better believe it's going to be great.
Melodie Dickerson: We believe Dr. Bell.
Rex Willis: Thank you so much.