I first attended a Missouri Music Educators Association conference in 1975, singing in Black & Gold Singers from Pleasant Lea Junior High in Lee’s Summit, with Verna Boten directing.
That conference, like most in the 1960s and 1970s, was at the Ramada Inn in Jefferson City. (See http://www.mmea.net/content/mmea-conference-history for more info on those conferences.) I have a recording of that concert, with typical 1970s music in three and four parts. I was singing high treble at the time!
Here’s what I looked like back then, in my Black & Gold Singers outfit:
Two years later, I appeared at MMEA twice in the same year, playing horn as a sophomore in the Lee’s Summit High School Orchestra one day (the performance included “Poet & Peasant” Overture by von Suppe), and the next day traveling to Jefferson City again to sing with the Boy’s Glee Club (now singing bass!) from LSHS. Again, I have recordings of these events, such as this one . . . . (The late, great Vance Riffie is conducting.)
So we flash forward a number of years. I attended MMEA, now at Tan-Tar-A resort at the Lake of the Ozarks, in college and in the 1980s, missing a few years since I wasn’t doing music.
Then in 1993 I performed not once but twice at the conference.
Dr. Michael Lancaster had me as featured soloist in Kirke Mechem’s “Dan-u-el” with the flagship choir from the University of Central Missouri. That afternoon concert was just a prologue to the next day when I conducted the Jacomo Chorale, my community choir, in a Saturday morning concert. We don’t often see community groups at this conference, so this was even more a thrill and honor. For that season, the Chorale’s 10th, we had commissioned Saint Louis composer Robert Wykes to compose music for the group. He set “Three Native American Texts.” Here’s the performance from MMEA as recorded that day.
And here’s what I looked like that day:
I’ve not missed one of these conventions in the time I’ve been a professional musician in Missouri or Kansas. I see friends and colleagues and classmates. One of the folks I see here goes back with me to Windermere when I was in high school. Another is a college roommate. Others are folks with whom I’ve performed, whose music I have sung, whose children I have watched grow to adulthood.
Now, as I am in middle-age, I am seeing former students here, reveling in their owns successes, greeting their own young children. No aspect of my life in Missouri is untouched when viewed through the prism of an MMEA convention.
When I return to the hotel this evening, I’ll be bone-weary, but happy and gratified. Such is the life of one who loves music and people, and who is blessed to share both in his daily life, but especially at this conference.
As a footnote — I have since led the two different groups at the Indiana state convention, and also at a regional choral convention, in addition to presenting interest sessions at state, regional, and national conferences. What Verna Boten started in 1975 continues to this day.
And here’s what I look like today: