March 2011 Belhaven University Music Department News

March 22, 2011

Dear Friends of the Music Department at Belhaven University,

Greetings from Jackson, MS.

Spring break is now just a memory as we move into our final 6 weeks of the semester culminating in commencement exercises for our graduating seniors on April, 30.  Can it be that another year is almost over?  Have I really been in this role as Music Chair for nearly seven years?  It must be so as I am hearing from many of our recent graduates as they are gaining entrance into graduate schools, finishing advanced degrees, and getting job placements in their field.  It is truly wonderful to see how the Lord is using our students who have persevered with practice and study through the years developing their craft to a level of excellence that brings honor and glory to our God.  Read on as this email should bring you up to speed with much of our latest news, upcoming concerts (PLEASE NOTE THE POSTPONEMENT OF TONIGHT’S RECITAL further down the page), and a focus on many of our alumni.  As you read this newsletter, please note that current music majors are highlighted by underlining, music faculty are highlighted in italics and music alumni are highlighted in bold print.

Music Alumni are moving on, or hoping to soon!

Violist Joel Andrus has been accepted into the graduate program at Central Michigan University.  CMU is waiving Joel’s tuition and providing him with a stipend!  Congratulations, Joel.  Praise the Lord!

Staff Accompanist Mrs. Nicole Harwell has received preliminary word that she has been accepted into the graduate program at the University of Northern Colorado.  Nicole, we are praying for you!

Pianist Sarah Sachs performed in a Master Class at the University of Southern Mississippi for pianist Ney Fialkov on March 1 performing works by Bernstein, Debussy and Liszt.  Sarah will receive her Master of Music degree from USM later this spring.

Soprano Tory Senete has been accepted into the graduate program at Westminster Choir College.  Congratulations, Tory.  Praise the Lord!

Others auditioning for entrance into graduate school include guitarist Suzanne Baucum, pianist Sarah Jones, soprano Claire McCullough and choral conductor/pianist Jesse Noote.  (If I am missing anyone, please let me know as I am committed to keeping up with our alum.) And others continuing towards completion of their graduate degrees include flutist Rachel Brannan, violinists Megan Russ and Julia Watkins and composer James White.

Please celebrate with me these that are continuing on in their pursuit of excellence while seeking the Lord’s will for their lives.

News from the last 6 weeks:

The Mississippi State Spring Festival of the National Association of Teachers of Singing was held recently at USM in Hattiesburg.  Six of our vocalists participated including freshmen Alyssa Aycock, Rachel Gorman, and Lydia Moore, sophomores Temperance Jones and John Mathieu, and senior Blakeney Hatcliff.  Just preparing for the rigors of competition and following through before the jury panel is worthy of praise, but this group clearly outdid themselves.  After the Preliminary round, Alyssa, Rachel, Lydia, John and Blakeney were accepted into the Semi-Finals.  But the strong success continued!  Alyssa, Rachel and John all advanced into the Final Round with the following results:  Alyssa Aycock placed third in the state in the Freshman and Sophomore Musical Theatre Division, Rachel Gorman placed second in the state in the Freshman and Sophomore Musical Theatre Division, and John Mathieu placed third in the state in the Sophomore Men division.  This speaks very highly of these students and their private teachers who include:  Dr. Christopher Shelt, Mrs. Gena Everitt, Ms. Anne Gray and Mrs. Elizabeth Richardson.

Many of our vocalists supported by a “cast of thousands” enjoyed another fine weekend of excellence in performance as they presented “The Light in the Piazza”, a musical based on the novel by Belhaven alum Elizabeth Spencer.  The performances were offered here at Belhaven on March 3, 4 and 5 to large audiences that were profuse with their affirmation!  My wife Carolyn and I attended the Saturday night performance and were truly blessed by this wonderful work and the excellent and sensitive way it was presented.  The audience shed many tears throughout this moving and poignant story of love conquering all.  The couple falling in love and eventually being married included Andrew Craig who played Fabrizio Naccarelli and Ellen Wise who played Clara Johnson.  Their stage parents included John Mathieu and Blakeney Hatcliff as Signor and Signora Naccarelli and Eric Hartzog and Lauren Pratt as Roy and Margaret Johnson.  Chadwick Harman and Brooke Edwards were portrayed as Giuseppe and Franca Naccarelli, Fabrizio’s older brother and sister-in-law.  Others with important roles in the success of the show included Rachel Gorman, the tour guide; Sarah Marie Bravo, the waitress; and Alyssa Aycock and Abby Wiggins as maids.  Staff Accompanist Mrs. Nicole Harwell and Maggie McLinden provided an excellent accompaniment to the musical at piano and synthesizer, while Jesse Emling, Temperance Jones, Drew Lamb, David Jacobs, Aimee Rankin, Amanda Hester, Stephen Fairchild, Roddy Merritt and Miss Valerie Tate provided invaluable assistance from behind the curtain.  Ushers included Daniel Bravo, Shellie Brown, Gina Condly, Matthew Forester, Emmberly Jefferson, Lydia Moore, Elisabeth Saeli, Miss Valerie Tate, Keeyonia Tyler and Megan van der Bijl.  Belhaven Theatre alumnus Ms. Amy Smith was the Director while vocal adjunct Ms. Anne Gray was the Musical Director.  Congratulations to everyone involved and a big Thank You to the Belhaven Theatre Department for facilitating the use of the Black Box Theatre for the week of the show.

On Tuesday, March 8, a Collaborative Arts Concert was offered in the Concert Hall at Belhaven.  Representing the collective creativity of The Belhaven Dance, Graphic Design, Music, Theatre and Visual Arts Departments, this was a highly unique “one-of-a-kind” performance experience for performers and audience members alike.  (Belhaven Creative Writing students were also in attendance at this program.  Their reflections on the events of the evening will also appear in print at a later time.)  More of these events are being planned for the years ahead so I hope more and more will fill the seats to witness a collaboration that has almost limitless potential to discover new ways of combining the Arts to glorify God.  Composers writing music for this event included Matthew Forester, Joshua Harton, Tony Peacock, Libby Roberts and Michael Shofner.  Belhaven faculty composer Dr. Andy Sauerwein provided coordinative leadership for the event while a host of others from all of the aforementioned Arts Departments at Belhaven made this an unforgettable evening.

On Friday, March 11 at 3 p.m., pianist Erin Desmond, student of Dr. Stephen Sachs, completed her degree requirements as she presented her Senior Piano Recital in the Concert Hall featuring works by Beethoven, Ives, Bach and Chopin.  Previously, trumpeter Joshua Harton, student of Mr. Lloyd Turner, presented his Senior Trumpet Recital on Saturday, February 26 featuring works by Copland, Ewazen, Hindemith, and Hummel.  Mrs. Nicole Harwell offered an excellent collaboration at the piano while oboist Bethany Basham ably assisted in the Copland.  And pianist Ellie Honea, student of Mrs. Carolyn Sachs, presented her Senior Piano Recital on Saturday, March 5 featuring works by Brahms, Debussy, Granados and Barber.  Congratulations to all of these recitalists!

Faculty guitarist Ms Amy Houghton arranged for guest artist Clifton Brown to present a Guitar Recital on March 1.  This was arranged almost at the last minute, so I do apologize that there was no announcement of this excellent event.  We’ll strive to do better to keep all of you informed!

On Monday, February 28, faculty violinist Mr. Song Xie, MSO cellist Mr. Bennett Randman, adjunct pianist Mrs. Carolyn Sachs and I presented our chamber recital (presented earlier in February at Belhaven) at the University of Southern Mississippi to strong accolades and positive reviews featuring works by Brahms, Bizet, and P.D.Q.Bach.

I hope you will be able to attend some of the wonderful music making that is occurring during the next month.  Please note these imminent events listed for you below.


It is with more than a bit of sadness that I must postpone my program until next fall.  As all of my colleagues and students understand here at Belhaven, when a program is not ready to present, it is not ready to present.

March 22

Faculty Recital – Dr. Stephen Sachs, pianist Tuesday, 7:30 pm, Concert Hall An evening of romantic Ballades by Frédéric Chopin and Franz Liszt express the full range of emotions from tenderness to triumph, darkness to breathtaking beauty.  Complimentary admission.  Doors open at 7:00 pm.

March 26

Alicia Kleeves, soprano, Junior Voice Recital Saturday, 7:30 pm, Concert Hall Alicia is the student of Ms. Anne Gray.

April 8

Orchestras and Strings Concert

Friday, 7:30 pm, Concert Hall

Idyll for String Orchestra by Leoš Janáček anchors this exciting evening featuring award-winning Belhaven string students in solo concerto and ensemble roles.  Complimentary admission.  Doors open at 7:00 pm.

April 9

All State Strings Concert

Saturday, 3:00 pm, Concert Hall

Mississippi’s best high school string students present the results of two intensive days of rehearsal and study.  Dr. London Branch is guest conductor.  Complimentary admission.  Doors open at 2:00 pm.

April 9

Guitar Ensemble Concert

Saturday, 7:30 pm, Concert Hall

This concert showcases the best student guitar solos and ensembles.  From earliest music to the latest experimental jazz, there is something for every taste on this eclectic program.  Complimentary admission.  Doors open at 7:00 pm.

April 12

Belhaven University and Jackson Community Symphonic Band, Jazz Ensemble and Percussion Ensemble Concert Tuesday, 7:30 pm, Concert Hall

Excitement through sound is in store for you as the full range of instrumental timbres, color, and energy flow under the baton of Dr. Paxton Girtmon and Paul Heindl. Complimentary admission.   Doors open at 7:00 pm.

April 14

Composers’ Orchestral Reading Session

Mississippi Museum of Art

Thursday, 5:30 pm, Trustmark Grand Hall

Student composers from Belhaven University and Mississippi College realize the dream of having their compositions read by professional players of the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, directed by Maestro Crafton Beck.  Brief discussions of the compositions and the composers’ intentions are part of this positive, engaging, and exploratory session.  Complimentary admission.  Doors open at 5:00.  Reception following in the Grand Hall.

April 16

Choral and Vocal Arts:  Iberian Romance

Saturday, 7:30 pm, Concert Hall

Dr. Christopher Shelt conducts the Belhaven Concert Choir, Chorale, soloists, and small ensembles in an exploration of choral and vocal works written in the Ibero-Romance family of languages, Spanish and Portuguese.  Expect exquisite examples from diverse style periods and countries of origin, including some from the pop idioms.   This colorful concert will feature Jean Berger’s work, A Brazilian Psalm. Complimentary admission. Doors open at 7:00 pm.

April 19

Best of Belhaven II

Tuesday, 7:30 pm, Concert Hall

The Music Department presents the most outstanding performances of the semester on one concert.  Musical variety and excellence are the gifts from our student performers to you.  Complimentary admission. Doors open at 7:00 pm.

Nearly all of the aforementioned events will be held in the Belhaven University Center for the Arts on Riverside Drive (across the street from Newell Stadium) in downtown Jackson.  Each event designates whether the event will be held in the Concert Hall or in the Blackbox Theatre.

And, there will be more.  A number of our junior and seniors still hope to present their recitals by graduation.  As soon as they have passed their recital juries, their concert dates can be announced.

To Prospective Students:  the pace of auditions is picking up again as we move towards the end of the semester.  There is still lots of time to finalize your applications and receive scholarship letters prior to advanced registration this summer.  Please work with your admission counselors as you seek to finalize this very important step in your lives.  You may also contact me at the email address below if you have any questions!!!  I want to write your scholarship letter and have you be a part of this very dynamic school that is Belhaven University and our very dynamic department which is Music.

Finally, please continue in prayer for a world that continues to be torn apart by strife, by horrific natural events and by our own fallen natures.  Pray that the Good News of Jesus Christ might be heard by all peoples.  I would especially seek your prayers for Belhaven Music alum Abi LaVallee Lowther who, with her husband and musician Roger Lowther are serving in Tokyo under the auspices of Mission to the World, Inc. (PCA).  Right now, these missionaries who have been using the Arts as a means to gain a way to share the Gospel with many around them in Japan are now on the front lines sharing food and water with those suffering from the devastating earthquake and tsunami.  Roger has personally driven relief trucks into the devastated areas while Abi is leading one of many initiatives in Tokyo to prepare supplies to be sent north.  Thank you for your prayers.

May God Bless You, Glory to God!

Dr. Sachs

Dr. Stephen W. Sachs

Pianist & Music Chair

Belhaven University

<>(601) 974-6471

(601) 974-6499 fax<>

Be strong and courageous! … The Lord your God will go ahead of you.

Deuteronomy 31:6… Belhaven University 2010-11 Verse of the Year

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