Over the years I’ve had the privilege of conducting about 30 of my own choral pieces, including several premieres. Most recently, my mass children’s choir, at the private preK-12 school I teach in, premiered my children’s Christmas piece, “Sweet Little Jesus.” It was a delightful experience to hear over 100 children sing this lullaby for the Christ child.
** On a side note, I am aiming to have this piece and my children’s choir setting of “Swing Low” (which was a huge hit with the children) available on the website by the end of July or August this year. **
One of the most memorable experiences of conducting my own compositions was the second time I conducted one of my own pieces. During the Fall quarter of 2003, at Walla Walla University, where I had just began my fourth year of music study, I approached the new choir conductor, Dr. John Dennison, with my arrangement of “Away In A Manger,” asking if he would be interested in having one the university choirs sing it. He looked the piece over and decided to program it for the upcoming Christmas program. I expected to sing it in the choir, but he told me, “you conduct it.”
He gave me rehearsal time, tips as a conductor, and to top it off, made me his student assistant conductor for the next two and half years (we had no graduate program, and he wanted to mentor conducting students beyond the normal conducting class setting). I felt so humbled, grateful, and honored to be given this privilege. The piece came out beautifully, in fact closing the back to back Christmas programs, which easily had over 3000 combined listeners.
Dr. Dennison, if you ever happen on this blog, I want you to know that you made a profound impact on my life as a musician and as a person. Thank you for the opportunities, instruction, and for your personal example. God Bless you!