Friday, July 23, 2010

Day 12, 2010 - Final Day

Well, it's been a very quick two weeks! This morning during devotions, those selected from last night's auditions to perform at the closing program were announced. There were about 14 groups and soloists selected from 32. Hard decisions.

We didn't do any real classroom work this morning.. Instead, we discussed some southern gospel history, including the founding of the Vaughan and Stamps-Baxter music publishing companies and the history of the Speer Family. Our final group singing session was spent going over a few last minute instructions and singing through a few songs for tonight.

No classes this afternoon! Everybody's so busy getting ready for the closing program, packing for early flights and doing soundchecks for the closing program, most of the students' minds are already gone, so we took the afternoon off.

We had a great closing program tonight, featuring many of the songs on the 2010 school CD that arrived from the duplicator this afternoon. The program started with Allison Durham Speer singing Dottie Rambo's "The Holy Hills of Heaven Call Me," the title cut from her soon-to-be-released album of the same name. The student body then sang 4 or 5 songs and we dismissed to hear from the many soloists and groups. We had some excellent piano solos from Raluca Bojor (from Romania) and first year student Mark Beggs. Both outstanding players. Several of my students, both past and present, sang either solos or were involved in different groups that were put together. Also had some mandolin and guitar pickers from this year's class playing on a bluegrass number featuring one of my students from a 2 or 3 years ago.

Two scholarships are presented each year at the program to deserving students for next year's session. Raluca Bojor from Romania won the Anthony Burger piano award for the second year in a row. So talented and it's great to have her here in the states. A first-year student, Mark Beggs, won the Brock Speer award. This is given to someone who displays not only great musicianship, but also a servant's heart and a desire to use their musical gifts for the glory of the kingdom. Mark is an excellent pianist, and it was not uncommon for him to be seen straightening up chairs and picking up water bottles long after everybody else had left the auditorium for the evening. Congratulations to both of you!

Tracey Phillips, our outstanding accompanist, had to leave about midway through the concert to drive up to Anderson, IN. She's playing for Ernie Haase & Signature Sound's Cathedrals' Tribute video taping tomorrow night. When the students all came back out to finish out the concert, Rosa Nell Speer Powell accompanied our last two numbers: "The Lovely Land" a song written by Dad Speer back in 1924 (and published in a book from his father-in-law's publishing company, Athens Music) and "My Home, Sweet Home," published by the Vaughan company about the time the Speer Family started working for Vaughan. The Speer Family sang it and recorded it many years ago.

Hugs and tears always seem to linger on for at least an hour after the program and tonight was no exception. As I've said previously, these people are like family to me and I will miss them, especially those that might not be able to come back next year for a variety of reasons. Theory teacher and writer Eugene McCammon wrote a song many years ago, "Never Say Goodbye" that was inspired from these feelings of sadness experienced at the end of singing schools. As believers, we don't have to say goodbye, even as some may pass on during the next year, we will see them again at the throne!

After my flight tomorrow morning, it'll be back in the full swing of the things: hymnal typesetting, a concert in one week with Reggie & Ladye Love Smith and continued plans for our Christmas events...

I love the Stamps-Baxter School of Music!


Anonymous said...

It was a bummer that we had to leave right after the closing program. I guess we all have to say bye sometime. I loved your theory class. How many Speer Family albums do you have anyway? I've been watching some of the videos I took (made) in your class. Is there any way I can get the other CD? I got The Sweetest Song I Know, and I would love to get the other one. Also, is there anywhere that I can listen to gosplefest on-line? I can't pick up our local station, So even if they do start broadcasting it I wouldn't be able to listen to it.

Shawn Degenhart said...

You can order the CD's through our website, Some stations do broadcast the show online (and some on-demand), but I'm not sure which ones do that. You could search the list on our website and see what you can find. Thanks!