Music Alumni Return for Concerts
Twenty-one Bluefield College music alumni spanning five decades of graduating classes gathered on campus, March 28-30, for a three-day Alumni Choir Reunion, featuring two Alumni Choir concerts.
April 15, 2014
Alumnus Dr. Tim Sharp, executive director of the American Choral Directors Association, leads a rehearsal with the BC Alumni Choir during a reunion on campus, March 28-30.
Twenty-one former BC music students from the 1970s to the 2010s came back on campus for the Alumni Choir Reunion and Concerts.
The BC Alumni Choir performs one of two concerts during its reunion weekend.
Among the music alumni back on campus: Dr. Tim Sharp, a 1974 BC alumnus and current executive director of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), who returned to conduct this year’s Alumni Choir.
“It’s always a thrill to go back to where you decided what your life was going to be all about,” said Dr. Sharp about the opportunity to return to Bluefield. “Being on this stage (Harman Chapel) and downstairs in the rehearsal rooms reminds me of so much.”
Back on campus after earning an associate’s degree from Bluefield College in 1974, Dr. Sharp spoke of his first solo recital, first choir tour, first performance of Handel’s “Messiah,” the plays, and the hours spent in rehearsal rooms. Since those days 40 years ago, he has become an internationally known choir director, who gives much of the credit for his success to the professors at BC.
“You don’t realize it until you’re out there on your own,” said Dr. Sharp. “That first moment when you take flight, that’s when I realized just how much the professors at Bluefield College gave to me, how much this place meant to me.”
After his studies at Bluefield College, Dr. Sharp earned a bachelor’s degree in music at Belmont University and a master’s degree and doctoral degree from the School of Church Music at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Soon after, he began teaching music at Belmont University, where he was director of choral activities. After Belmont, he moved to Rhodes College, where he eventually became the dean of the College of Fine Arts before taking over the executive director’s position with the ACDA.
“It’s unbelievable that a man of his stature would come back and conduct the Alumni Choir,” said Bryant Moxley, chair of the BC Music Department. “He has literally conducted choirs all over the world.”
But, this weekend, March 28-30, he conducted the Bluefield College Alumni Choir, including Jamar Bennett (‘10), Mindy Blume (’12), Morgan Cassady (’05), Allison Deel (’11), Katilyn Duggins (’12), Julie Rogers Filer (’10), Regina Filer (’83), Lindsey Hazelwood (‘11), Chris Keller (’11), Angi Highlander Kennedy (’13), Tori Krein (’09), Adam Lowe (‘10), Keri Joyce McCracken (’11), Dena Monroe (’98), Lauren Serreno (’09), Steve Spangler (’74), Bradley Stump (’04), Brian Wikle (’11), Kara Woodward Wikle (’10), and Cary Grace Wright (’13).
Former and current staff members also joined the reunion, including Susan Allen, Ruth Blankenship, Mark Hipes, Bryant Moxley, Lisa Moxley, Charles Priest, Chris Shoemaker, and Ruth Spangler. And, a number of current BC music students united with the alumni for the weekend concerts. Dr. Sharp spoke highly of the current students and the progress of the BC Music Department.
“The students are well trained,” he said. “It feels good to see that 30 years later the school is still doing great stuff. It gives you a great deal of pride. Bluefield College did me well. It prepared me for the next step. I’m proud of Bluefield.”
Working with those well-trained music students was a joy, Dr. Sharp said, as he rehearsed with them and the 21 alumni singers during three separate practice sessions in preparation for two weekend concerts: a Saturday evening concert titled “Gloria Deo” and a Sunday morning worship performance at First Baptist Church in Bluefield.
“Being in the choirs at BC is a big reason I came to Bluefield,” said 2011 alumnus Brian Wikle, who attended this year’s music reunion. “I wanted to continue singing through college, and this was an excellent opportunity to do so. I was privileged to meet many wonderful people and make unforgettable memories.”
Among the familiar songs alumni sang for the concerts: “Be Thou My Vision,” “I Can Tell the World, “My Eternal King,” “If Ye Love Me,” “When I Can Read My Title Clear,” “Zion’s Walls,” “For the Beauty of the Earth,” and the BC alma mater.
In addition to the rehearsals and concerts, the music alumni enjoyed a breakfast gathering, a dinner reunion, an after-concert reception, and campus tours. The group also watched a video presentation of recent performances of BC’s Variations at Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center.
“We were so honored to have Dr. Tim Sharp return to lead his second Alumni Choir Reunion,” said Alumni Director Mark Hipes. “Our Alumni Choir led worship at First Baptist Church in Bluefield, where Dr. Sharp served as a youth choir director during his days as a student under the supervision of BC music professor J.P. Jardine.”