59th Biennial Convention Wrap Up

Music: Our Source of Energy & Motivation 

59th Biennial Convention Wrap-up 

Dayton, Ohio 

June 20 24, 2017 

by Dr. Liana Valente, Chair of Music in Schools and Colleges,  NFMC Representative to the United Nations, and 2nd Vice-President of VFMC 

 How would you define consummate professional? If you attended the Tuesday evening performance that opened the 59th Biennial Convention in Dayton you would have experienced a performance presented by just such a musician. Due to unexpected illness, the 2016 Stillman Kelley Winner, Noah Waddell, was unable to perform.  With less than 48 hours to prepare, guitarist and music educator Jim McCutcheon presented an outstanding program that featured both traditional repertoire, including the Bach Prelude from the Cello Suite No. 1 and Leyenda by Albeniz, as well as original compositions including his Spring ‘Rondo.“The Jim McCutcheon Egg Shaker Percussion Band,” featuring most of the executive board and members of the audience, took part in a rousing song played on the Charango, a small, lute-like instrument from Bolivia that was given to Jim by a student. Jim spoke to the audience with ease and humor and gave us all an invaluable gift that demonstrated the highest ideals of our organization – professionalism, expertise and passion.  

Each year the officers, members, and friends of National Federation gather to conduct the business of the organization, to acknowledge recipients of national awards, to hold national competitions, and to share the work of senior and junior clubs around the country. Conventions give us all the opportunity to speak with colleagues about our successes and challenges, often realizing that challenges we may be facing in our home clubs are mirrored in other clubs. All are encouraged to attend open meetings during the convention and there is always time for reconnecting with friends. If you have never attended a convention we encourage you to join us in Milwaukee next summer.  

On June 20 more than 200 members of NFMC convened for the biennial convention, gaveled into session by President Michael Edwards at the Formal Opening session.  The United States Air Force Band of Flight’s Wright Brass not only led us in the singing of the processional hymn and the National Anthem, but they performed a rousing musicale entitled Salute to America that featured traditional tunes including When the Saints Go Marching In, String of Pearls and Sing, Sing, Sing. As they played their final selection, the Armed Forces Salute, they asked that all who have served or are serving rise and be recognized. It was a profoundly proud moment to see how many of our colleagues have served our country as members of the military.    

The opening session continued with greetings by past national presidents Dr. Ouida Keck, Lana Bailey and Carolyn Nelson, who also extended greetings from Elizabeth Paris who could not attend. We were the first to watch a video interview with last year’s Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient, Francis Christmann, conducted by Dr. George Keck. Francis spoke passionately about her love of Federation and what it has meant to her over the years. Thanks to the work Dr. Keck is doing on the archive project, this interview will be a permanent addition to the NFMC archives and will be available to all who would like to view it.  

Following this presentation the members were dismissed from the opening general session and headed off to meetings and workshops. As mentioned before, conventions are when most of the business of the organization takes place. Committee meetings allow all members to learn of developments important to their focus, make suggestions for changes, vote on important issues, and share their observations from the previous year. When a vote is needed, only those members of the committee with voting credentials may cast a vote, but all are welcome to participate. Attending committee meetings at the national level is an excellent way for members to gain insight into the committee work and bring these insights back to their state and local clubs. 

The workshops that were presented during the 2017 convention were exciting and diverse and included lectures and performances by outstanding musicians and scholars. Each day we were offered opportunities to expand our understanding of music, history and science. In addition to daily workshops, short musical interludes and musicales were performed. On Thursday morning attendees were treated to a short concert by the first winner of the Carolyn C. Nelson Award for Double Reed, oboist Jenna Sehmann accompanied by Mary Fahrenbruck. Prior to the Rose Fay Thomas Luncheon, The Quantz Wind Ensemble of Dayton performed a beautiful musicale. And the NFMC Festival Chorus presented its concert on Friday afternoon under the direction of Dr. William Henry Caldwell, accompanied by Rosanne Brown. 

Attendees were treated to more musical performances from around the world during the evening presentations. On Wednesday we were introduced to The Royal Drummers of Burundi, a percussion ensemble originally from Burundi, in Eastern Africa. The ensemble began in Dayton in the 1960’s when the first refugees arrived in Ohio. All of the performers Wednesday night had lived in refugee camps in neighboring countries during the unrest in Eastern Africa. These performers arrived in Dayton in 2014 and decided to make Dayton their home. There are currently over 200 Burundi refugees living in Dayton.  

The Thursday evening concert was presented by the winners of the NFMC Young Artist competition. After three days of rehearsals and semi-final rounds, our four new young artists took the stage and offered an outstanding evening of music. These young artists (Kevin Ahfat – Piano; André Chiang – Man’s Voice; Natalie Conte – Woman’s Voice; and Sejin Lee – Cello) are eager to perform for your state conventions and meetings. And on Friday night we were introduced to the newly named Ellis Duo, Happy Dog Duo. Eric Tran and Nathan Cheung have performed together for over a decade and presented an outstanding concert of music for piano four-hands and even included their original the 30-second composition that gave them their name, “Happy Dog.”  

Certainly one of the highlights of the convention was the opportunity to hear cellist and Grammy winner Zuill Bailey perform with his mother Lana at the piano, during the Formal Banquet. Zuill, the 1991 Young Artist Strings Winner spoke eloquently about his love for Federation and the impact NFMC has had on his career. President Michael Edwards presented Zuill with an NFMC Citation in recognition of his “significant contributions to the world of music as cellist, teacher, music educator, and humanitarian.” And to close out the Banquet, Doris Whinery was invited to the podium where she accepted the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award. You will be able to read about Doris’ 57 years as a member of NFMC in this issue of MCM.  

Convention days are filled with meetings and performances, but there is always time built into the schedule to see the host city. On Thursday afternoon the Dayton planning committee arranged for a bus tour of the city. And for those who did not take part in the tour, audience members were treated to two concerts presented by Dayton Music Club members and guests. 

While the 59th Biennial Convention is now over, the work of the Federation for 2017 – 2018 is just beginning. We encourage you to visit the newly updated NFMC website for information about all things Federation including the new Competitions and Awards Chart, 2016 – 2020 Festivals Bulletin Adjustments, downloadable applications and other publications, and a list of current officers and chairs for all committees. Biographies of our new Young Artists and Ellis Duo can also be found on the web site.  

Start making plans now to travel to Milwaukee next summer. You won’t regret it.  


Workshops & Presentations

Jim McCutcheon:  The Science of Music
Dr. Minnita Daniel-Cox & Dr. Herbert Martin:  Paul Lawrence Dunbar 
Dr. Lisa Rainsong:  Earth’s First Musicians
Burundi Drummers:  YouTube
Carolyn Nelson, Finance Chairman:  PowerPoint  & Accompanying Text