Friday, August 14, 2015

Announcing Union Harmony 2015-2016

On campus auditions for Union Harmony are typically held during the spring, with additional auditions held in the summer, as needed. Veteran members of the group are required to re-audition, so there is no “resting on your laurels” so to speak! It is a vigorous process. Singers had to sing a solo melody, sing their part (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) in a quartet, and sing scales in the range of the voice part for which they were auditioning.  I want to thank everyone who auditioned for this year’s group!

Members of Union Harmony 2015-2016 are: Katelyn Snelling (soprano), Kelli Hensley (soprano), Alexandra Estes (soprano), Maggie Watkins (alto), Jessica Boggs (alto), John Patrick (JP) White (tenor), Cody Sizemore (tenor), Jorge Jackson (bass), and Justin Matlock (bass).

Jorge (a bass) is new to the group this year and one alto, Jessica Boggs, is also new.  It is not common for a freshman to make Union Harmony, but Jessica is an exceptional singer from Corbin, with whom I have had contact with throughout the year.

Congratulations to all!  As always, I am looking forward to working with both Union Harmony and the Union Singers! If you happen to see one of these singers in the upcoming weeks, be sure to offer your congratulations!

Let the singing commence!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Summertime, Summertime, Sum-Sum-Summertime!

I hope all are enjoying the warmth (currently hot!) of summer. Although it is still early and the beginning of fall classes is more than a month and a half away, we will "blink" and it will be upon us. With this in mind, I am finalizing membership in Union Harmony 2015-2016 and hope to make an announcement by mid to late July. Some really fine singers auditioned for Harmony, so it is a challenge and blessing at the same time to come up with the right combination of voices.

Enjoy the sun, water, beach, mountains, etc. and look for the announcement soon!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

I Was Blogging and Found . . .

Seventh Post in the Series.
I found a very interesting article on the role (or lack thereof) of the organ in many of our churches today.  The sound of an organ leading congregational singing reverberates within my soul! There is nothing like the sound of voices coming together in song, led by an organist who knows their instrument and therefore how to make the music come alive! I often lament about congregational singing and concur with the author of the article "Does the Church Organ Need to Go" (linked below).

Although I do believe some texts and music are not edifying nor appropriate for worship, good congregational singing is not necessarily about the style of music. We worship our Creator through congregational singing, so the music should serve a theologically driven text and if the singing is supported and led by the incomparable tone/character/timbre of an organ, all the better!

Enjoy the article!

Does the Church Organ Need to Go by Mark Harland

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Spring Concert: Haydn's "Te Deum in C Major"

[Please take a moment to look over my blog’s new look and layout.  I have refreshed the look, feel, and functionality of the blog and look forward to offering posts for a 6th year]

Photo of Esterhazá, residence of the Esterházy family

The centerpiece of this year’s Spring Concert is Franz Joseph Haydn’s Te Deum in C Major. The Te Deum text is a standard and well-known text, which has been set to music by countless composers through the centuries, even unto today. Haydn was an Austrian composer who spent most of his career working for a family of Hungarian Princes, the Esterházy family. He was a contemporary of Mozart and once (briefly) gave lessons to Beethoven.  Joseph Haydn was quite a prolific composer of chamber, orchestral and choral works.

Haydn’s Te Deum in C Major is a short work of about eight or nine minutes (depending upon the desired tempo) and is in three, seamless sections or one might say, movements. The exhilarating opening and closing allegro sections surround a slower, contrasting movement, which offers a much needed repose.

It is a challenging piece, with its many interwoven musical lines and overlapping thematic material. All three of Union’s choirs will come together to sing this exciting work.  It will go by quickly, too quickly for my taste considering not only the majestic nature of the work, but also because of all the many hours the choirs will put into learning it!!

The program will also include numerous shorter (octavo in length) works, which will compliment Haydn’s Te Deum.

Please use the following link to view and listen to a recording of this work.  And don’t forget to put 
Tuesday, April 21st on your calendar.  The concert begins at 8:00 p.m. in Conway Boatman Chapel and is free and open to the public.

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