Friday, December 19, 2014

Choral Program's Christmas Video 2014

It is good to blog again!  After five years of blogging I took a bit of a break, but am happy to share this December post with you.

I am so thankful for our three talented choirs who have worked so hard ALL semester long; I am equally grateful to our faithful audience! The choirs sang beautifully and the audience was so receptive.  It was also nice to recognize Dr. Candy Wood for all she has given to the music program over the past 37+ years!

If you are a current singer, thank you for the joy you bring to my day.  If you don't currently sing with us, but would like to, simply sign up for MUSC 152 (no audition required). You could be singing with us at our next performance -- The Valentine Concert!

Please take a few minutes to enjoy the Choral Program's 2014 Christmas Video.

Merry Christmas!

PS Instrumentalists -- Mr. Douglas Olenik is our new fulltime Director of Bands! Be sure to sign up for MUSC 181 and be a part of Union's new and exciting Band Program!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

New Department: Fine, Performing and Communication Arts


Although the new department was announced last fall, today is its"official" first day. We are excited about the possibilities and look forward to departmental collaborations as well as collaborating with colleagues and friends on and off campus! We will continue to offer our students, colleagues and community engaging programs even as we brainstorm and conceptualize new and inventive ways we can serve our students and community!

Members of the Fine, Performing and Communication Arts Department include Dal Macon, Assistant Professor of Art; Christine Marley, Professor of Communications; Virginia Gay Gandy, Associate Professor of Music (Dept. Chair); Kim Yeager, Instructor of Theatre; Joe Martin, Adjunct Instructor of Public Speaking; and Danny Phelps and Kathy Smith, Staff Accompanists.

I will give more information in a future post, but did not want July 1st to pass without "marking" this new beginning for the arts at Union!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Six Weeks and Six Thousand Miles

Rachel, Katie, Lindsay and Nikki.
Not pictured: Dr. Meek, Jennifer and Leanna
 [Prelude: I have neglected my blog during the spring term, but will return to my quasi regular posts come fall]

Although this blog is dedicated to choral music and closely related topics, I have from time to time written an off topic post. With that in mind, I feel compelled to write a follow-up to my last post about the journey I have been on the last several months. Many of you read my previous post and are aware of my diagnosis, surgery and treatments. As it turned out, my oncologist recommended I not have chemotherapy based on the genome test I mentioned in my last post. I agreed with his recommendation and am thankful I don't have to face such an intense and grueling treatment. I am currently undergoing radiation treatments. I require 33 treatments in all (as of Friday I have completed 30!). Once my radiation treatments are finished I will begin adjuvant therapy (in the form of a daily pill) for the next five years.

And now I come to the heart of this post: When one seeks treatment of this nature, one wants a great Radiation Oncologist, the latest equipment, well qualified nurses, therapists, dosimetrists, physicists, etc. It is also essential (for me) that they are carrying and empathetic individuals. I am happy and grateful to say I am blessed with such a team. Dr. Allen Meek, Lindsay, Jennifer, Katie, Rachel, Nikki and Leanna of Provision Radiation Therapy in Knoxville have made me comfortable and confident in the quality of care I am receiving. I hope this doesn't sound like an advertisement, as I hope no reader of this post will ever require their expertise, I simply want to express my gratitude to these lovely, caring people.

Katie and Jeniffer take care of me day in and day out. I have come to enjoy their company and our getting to know one another (their love of maxi dresses, my car buying journey, a bit about my work at Union, etc.) They have tremendous responsibilities and are professional and dedicated to providing the very best of care.
Katie and me. Sadly, Jennifer wasn't there
on this day:/ (Btw, I have not shrunk, Katie is just
wonderfully tall!)

Most readers of my blog know of my daily struggle with positional vertigo. Jennifer, Katie and the entire team worked with me to make sure my vertigo was not agitated. They put my mind at ease and insured my quality of life was not going to be put in jeopardy.

To be sure, driving back and forth to Knoxville for 6 and a half weeks (6,000 miles!) wasn't on my agenda for this summer, but by the grace of God I am receiving wonderful care. I will not miss the drive, nor the treatments, but I will miss being greeted with a smile, treated with kindness and professionalism, and knowing I could call upon Dr. Meek (one of the top Radiation Oncologists in the nation) if I had a question or concern (and you know I had more than a few:))

I am looking forward to healing over the next several weeks and then, God willing, going to the office and doing some work (well, a vacation is also in order). I already miss my students and am looking forward to their return.

As I draw this post to its conclusion, instead of coming up with a musical selection (and there are many that would be fitting) I want to end with something I found in the Patient Care binder I was given by Rachel my first day at Provision.

What Cancer Cannot Do

It cannot cripple love
It cannot shatter hope
It cannot corrode faith
It cannot destroy peace
It cannot kill friendship
It cannot suppress memories
It cannot silence courage
It cannot invade the soul
It cannot steal eternal life
It cannot conquer the spirit

Author unknown

Sola Gratia,
Virginia Gay

Sunday, April 20, 2014

To My Union Family . . .

As I sit down to write this post I am keenly aware I am going out on the proverbial limb and venturing outside of my comfort zone. Nevertheless, I have the strong desire to share with my Union College family (although some know, numerous others do not) the journey I have been on for the last month and a half.

About six weeks ago I was "officially" diagnosed with breast cancer and a little over three weeks ago I had surgery. I won't go into all the details except to say I am so grateful to my Redeemer there is no evidence of disease in my nodes and the margins of the lumpectomy are clean. Radiation is definitely in my future with a decision about chemotherapy "riding" on the results of a genome test . . . a decision will be made in consultation with my oncologist this week.

Okay . . . so far, so good; I haven't erased this post yet.

I want the Union College community to know how humbled I am by the acts of kindness shown to me. There are two people in particular I want to thank: John Taylor and Kathy Smith. In the very early days after the diagnosis (when I was in shock), John "let" me fall apart. Those of you who know him well, know he doesn't try to "fix" how one is feeling . . . he simply accepts.

John has taken me to appointments in Knoxville, kept me company when I was waiting for the results of pathology, scans, etc. and he stayed with me for seven days straight after the surgery! [I was concerned what my neighbors might think, but quickly dismissed this as I have great neighbors who knew I needed help] To be sure, those seven days were a bit stressful for John but he was committed to helping me as I recovered. And to my recollection I only got " grouchy" twice!! This is my reality and I am sticking to it.

Another member of the Union College family who has been such a tremendous blessing to me is Kathy Smith. She is not only a great pianist/accompanist for the Union College Singers and Harmony, she is a wonderful friend. From the beginning, Kathy offered to help in anyway she could . . .and she meant it! She made several trips to Knoxville with me including the day of the surgery when she and John spent a long day keeping me company, praying with me and the surgeon, and waiting, waiting, waiting! Kathy also cooked and brought scrumptious food over once I got home (John already liked Kathy but was now enamored with her). She was also invaluable as she filled in for me with Singers, Harmony, and some voice lessons while I was out. I don't know what I would have done without her; I don't know what I would have done without John. I am grateful two of Union's finest are so selfless.

To be sure John and Kathy are not the only members of the Union family who supported me. If I tried to name everyone (and I really want to! ) I would no doubt unintentionally leave someone out. Nevertheless, my heart is warmed by the support I have felt from members of the administration, faculty, staff and the larger Barbourville community. I am thankful for the kind words, prayers, and the all important hugs I have received. Oh, and my students have been amazing . . . we have the cream of the crop here at Union. I am touched by their sweet gestures of support and patience as some knew. something was bothering me long before I was ready to share.

I am living a "new" reality now and although (thankfully) my prognosis is good, I am learning to live with a measure of uncertainty as it relates to my health. But, I remain grateful (beyond measure) to my Creator that I don't have to carry a heavier burden . . . there are many who are suffering a great deal more than I.

With love and affection to my Union family,
Virginia Gay

PS Although this post is meant to celebrate the Union College community, I can't sign off without thanking my family who loves me unconditionally.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Union Choirs: Third Annual End of the Year Movie Clip

The semester swiftly came to a close but not before Union's Choral Program presented its annual Christmas Festival Concert. I am proud beyond measure of the musicality and devotion to excellence of the Union Singers, Union Harmony, and the Regional Chorus. I am also thankful for (and humbled by) the support of the Union College family and Barbourville community.

For the third consecutive year, I have put together a brief movie clip of the choirs.  The music playing in the background (Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming) was recorded by Union Harmony (2012) and the photos were all taken this fall.

Merry Christmas and enjoy the clip!


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

UC Singers and Union Harmony Visit Barbourville High School

About a week and a half ago (October 30th) the UC Singers and Union Harmony went to Barbourville High School for a Choral Exchange; we sang a few pieces for their choir and they sang a few for us.

I asked the admissions office if we could take some promotional material with us and they were more than happy to supply informational sheets, little banners, etc. Thanks Summer!

Between the songs, I spoke about Union and all it has to offer prospective students . . . with special emphasis on Art, Music, and Theatre.
There were also several Union students who spoke about their major and their participation in not only the choir, but other organizations on campus. These students were articulate and engaging as they talked about their life at Union! I was also pleased with my choirs as they embraced the “mingle” time after all groups had sung.
Please find below a few pictures from our Choral Exchange at Barbourville High School.

(Thanks to Alex Estes for the use of her camera and Steve Chafin for taking some of the pics).


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

String Orchestra Resonates in Conway Boatman Chapel

Last night the Kremlin Chamber Orchestra performed in Conway Boatman Chapel as part of the FAA of Southeastern Kentucky’s 2013-2014 concert season. What a privilege it was to host this outstanding string orchestra. These musicians were technically sound and their musicality was brilliant!

They opened with Elgar’s Serenade for Strings in e minor. With its broad sweeping gestures set in a tonal framework, it was an exquisite work to begin the program. I found myself moved by this serenade as the sound filled the room and swept over the audience.

The Shostakovich symphony was an excellent programming choice, though it may have been a bit more challenging for some listeners since it left one apprehensive with its sharp attacks and dissonant leanings. Shostakovich dedicated the work “In Memory of Victims of Fascism and War.”  Although I was taken with the piece, there were a few concert goers I spoke with who found it to be harmonically challenging. The conductor may have (in part) taken this into account when he decided to immediately follow the symphony (with no break or applause) with Contrapunctus No. 1 from The Art of the Fugue by J. S. Bach. In the program notes, Misha Rachlevsky (the conductor) explained his reasoning: “Years ago, when I began performing this work, it struck me how unsettling it felt to hear the applause after this composition. . . . The moment I thought of Bach’s First Contrapunctus, it just felt right. Starting in the similar emotional atmosphere as the opening of the Chamber Symphony . . . it then takes a drastically different road, becoming a majestic hymn to the human spirit.” Playing the Bach fugue after the Shostakovich serves two purposes I believe; it relieves the unsettled feeling of applause and it also releases musical tension for those who are challenged by the harmonics of the work.

[Side note: The “subject” (or theme) of Bach’s Contrapunctus No. I is played and examined in my Introduction to Music class. It is my hope some students recognized the theme.]
After intermission, the consort played Dvorak’s Serenade for Strings. Once again, in terms of programming, this was an excellent choice to end the concert; it truly was a serenade and offered release and balance to the evening.

The musicians welcomed our efforts to make them comfortable and Misha expressed his appreciation for the chapel and its lovely acoustics.

A big thank you to Alexandra Estes and Cody Sizemore for assisting me last night.  There was much to do in hosting this group and I could not have done it without their able assistance. I also want to express my appreciation to safety, the physical plant crew, Don Merriam, and Bobby Doolin. It is vital concert goers (from all around Southeastern Kentucky) leave our campus with an appreciation for the ambiance of our beautiful chapel and the helpfulness/professionalism of the Union College Community.

Virginia Gay
(PS "Blog Too" and the footer are currently not taking updates)

Postlude: There were a few comments from faculty, audience members, and the orchestra’s manager concerning the noise produced by the HVAC. I explained we do have a switch in place to shut the system down just prior to a concert beginning, but the system was being “allowed” to kick back on for some reason. What I didn’t say was this has been an ongoing issue for a couple of years, which needs to be remedied.