Community Music School celebrates 25th anniversary for Homecoming Week 2020


Brynn Lundy/The Lion's Roar

Students of the Southeastern Community Music School provided various solo and group performances at the school’s 25th anniversary concert. The event was on campus and free to guests, who were encouraged to wear masks, social distance and bring their own chairs.

On Saturday, Oct. 24, the Southeastern Community Music School held its 25th anniversary concert, titled “Classics in Blue Jeans,” at the Pottle Music Building’s Bass Clef outdoor stage.

The concert was a part of Homecoming Week 2020 and Saturday’s Fall Fest in Friendship Circle. Various individuals and groups of CMS students performed from 10-11 a.m., concluding with a brief showcase of the orchestra as a whole, led by interim director Jivka Duke.

Duke mentioned that this event was the music school’s first of the semester and that they will have two indoor recitals toward the end of the fall. She explained the reasoning behind the theme and title of the concert, “Classics in Blue Jeans.”

“We performed mostly classical pieces, which are normally performed in a concert hall, while wearing formal attire such as tuxedos and evening gowns, but, since we had to do this concert outdoors to comply with the COVID-19 restrictions, we encouraged everyone to wear blue jeans,” detailed Duke. “We also included one or two popular/fiddle pieces which are usually performed in blue jeans.”

For lessons and performances, the music school abides by the university’s health and safety guidelines, according to Duke. She explained that students have the option to participate in their lessons online, in person or a hybrid of both.

Duke also described the preparation process for this particular concert.

“The preparation time varies depending on the difficulty of the pieces,” explained Duke. “Some take just a few weeks, and others take a few months. The ensembles mostly prepare individually, each player on their own, and only rehearse together once or twice.”

In addition to the day’s weather, Duke listed other factors that contributed to the anniversary concert’s success.

“One very important aspect is making sure the students are assigned pieces that are the correct level of difficulty and also pieces that they enjoy practicing,” commented Duke. “There are many other logistics to consider, from getting the right keyboard to making sure our performers have a convenient place to park, but definitely the success of such an event is a group effort. Teachers, students, parents—everyone plays an invaluable part in making it the success that it is.”

Natalie Fulks, a CMS student and 8-year-old pianist who is homeschooled from Albany, La., shared that even though she wished she could give her schoolmates congratulatory hugs after each performance, it felt good to display her hard work at the concert.

“It feels awesome to have my practice and hard work pay off,” expressed Fulks. “I felt like I achieved something in music at the performance because other people heard me play, and they liked it. I was able to play without making any mistakes because I practiced my piece every day for weeks.”

Graham Mizell, another CMS student and 15-year-old guitarist from Hammond, shared how it felt to prepare for a socially-distanced performance.

“It shows how we can adapt to the things going on and still provide entertainment and have an enjoyable experience,” commented Mizell.

Duke shared her gratitude towards the university and for being able to hold an event for the 25th anniversary of the music school on campus.

“I am grateful that we were able to do this event in person and to even have an audience, socially distanced, but present in person,” expressed Duke. “Southeastern’s support in everything we do is always present, but especially in a year like this is really wonderful. I feel that we have been so deprived of live music this year that this was a much needed relief and a beautiful bright light of normality in a year filled with so much disturbance and uncertainty.”