Bluefield, VA – In celebration of a century of Christian higher education, the Bluefield University Department of Music will present the Music Alumni and Centennial Gala Concert featuring the premiere of BU’s centennial anthem titled “Darkness to Light” on Saturday, April 23, 2022, at 7:30 p.m. in Harman Chapel Auditorium. The community is invited and admission is free.
Bluefield University will welcome alumni and community friends who have participated in the music department for this special reunion weekend and the unveiling of “Darkness to Light”, commissioned by Bluefield University by composer Daniel Knaggs, who has been called “a rising star in the sky of serious, young American composers.”
“This work celebrates the theme of going from darkness to light while focusing on the Source of that Light,” said Daniel Knaggs. “The piece also pays tribute to a sense of legacy and carrying light into the coming generations.”
The powerful text in this piece is taken from excerpts of the book of Psalms and the centennial scripture, Ephesians 5:8-9, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth.”
The score is for mixed choir, soprano soloist, piano, trumpets, trombones, tuba, and percussion.
“As an alumnus of rather prestigious institutions, nowhere in all my years of Academia have I encountered what we have here, with Bluefield University’s Music Alumni Weekend,” said Dr. John Moir. “Having worked under important collegiate undergraduate conductors; (Wm. Hall, Frank Almond, Zoltán Rozsnyai) as well as my work with the Roger Wagner Chorale and at the Eastman School and Shenandoah Universities; and my fifteen seasons with the San Diego Opera and those amazing world-class conductors, (e.g. Roger Wagner, Richard Bonynge, Keith Elder, Bruno Rigacci) at no time did any of these institutions or performance organizations offer a means to both reconnect with old friends, and allow us a chance to “make music again” in a collegial setting, sometimes after decades away.”
Bluefield University will welcome guest conductor and former BU music professor, Dr. Chris Sheppard. Dr. Chris Sheppard, Chair of the Department of Music at Newberry College in South Carolina, has maintained the college’s strong choral tradition since arriving in 2010. As with each step in his career, Dr. Sheppard conducts the choirs and teaches conducting and private voice. He was key in bringing the state’s Central Region Chorus to Newberry. He also assists with musical productions at the college and with Newberry Community Players. In Spring 2018, Dr. Sheppard was awarded the College’s Carter Professorship Award for selfless giving and service.
Dr. Sheppard taught at Bluefield University from 1998-2002, where he conducted Bluefield College Singers, Variations, and Masterworks Chorale. During his tenure, the choirs toured from Fairmont, WV, to Florida; he participated in the Reese’s first theatrical production on campus, and he was honored in Who’s Who in America, and twice in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers. After leaving Bluefield to pursue his doctorate, Dr. Sheppard was a professor at Montana State University Billings, where he received an Outstanding Faculty Award from the student government. He was the chorusmaster for Rimrock Opera Company in Billings, where he also sang several baritone roles. Additionally, under his direction, the community choir Magic City Singers won the “Tuney Award” for the city’s Best Vocal Group in consecutive years. He has led seventeen festival choirs in seven states. Dr. Sheppard’s summer festival work includes twice working as chorusmaster at the Maud Powell International Opera Institute in Illinois and as the choral director for an international choir in the World Scholar-Athlete Games held in Kingston, RI. He has been very involved in church work, having served several congregations as Music Director, and was the clinician for the first annual Songs to Sing adult choir retreat at Lutheridge in Arden, NC. He holds degrees from the University of Wisconsin, University of Northern Colorado, and Marshall University. Since leaving Bluefield, Dr. Sheppard has striven to find and foster something similar to the special connection with students and colleagues that he experienced at Bluefield University. He is honored to be a part of the institution’s centennial celebrations.
BU will also welcome guest soloist, Jordan Stadvec. The West Virginian soprano has been hailed as a “riveting” “natural scene-stealer” with “crystal clear high notes” and an “attractive, bright timbre.” She was most recently heard singing the title character in Virginia Tech’s production of Pelléas and Mélisande. She trained as an apprentice artist at the Miami Music Festival, where she sang Antonia in Les Contes d’Hoffmann, Musetta in La Bohème, and Noémie in Cendrillon. She continued her training as an Artist Diploma student at CCM. While at CCM, she was given the opportunity to perform Mařenka in The Bartered Bride, Vitellia in La Clemenza di Tito, Adina in L’Elisir d’Amore, Ms. Julian in Owen Wingrave, and the Voix d’en Haute in a concert version of Verdi’s Don Carlos. Ms. Stadvec is a gifted actress embodying characters from the “spunky and sassy” to the “passionate and expressive.” She enjoys singing a great variety of repertoire.
She was a featured soloist as Maria from West Side Story in the Songfest Sings America: Celebrating Leonard Bernstein concert, and has starred in many musicals. She has been a soloist in Bernstein’s Songfest, Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem, and Vivaldi’s Gloria. She is also featured on a professional recording of John Adams’ Grand Pianola Music. She did a season of opera outreach with ROKCincy as Rosina in a children’s production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia. She has taught many students of varying ages and enjoys inspiring and encouraging their musical pursuits.
“As a student, I didn’t understand the magnitude of what the music alumni weekend was about, but I enjoyed the extra time I got to spend with my choir friends, and meeting the people who would visit,” said Alandra Blume ’14. “It’s amazing the difference in the sound and feel of a room when even just a few more voices join in singing, so with the combined choirs and all the visitors, it’s such an encouraging, energizing experience.”
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