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Opening Night at the Scheidt: University of Memphis Musicians Returning from Pandemic Hiatus to Kick Off Musical Season in the Bluff City

The Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music will be holding a preview concert on September 17 as a grand opening to the musical season in Memphis.  

The Opening Night at the Scheidt will be the first major concert of the season. Faculty from the music school as well as members of the student orchestra will perform repertoire from the school’s partnered music organizations including Opera Memphis and the Memphis Symphony Orchestra. 

“It is an opportunity for the School of Music to show off its talented students and faculty and partner with our community partners,” said Kevin Sanders, director of the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music. 

“This is the sixth year we’ve done the opening night. We were not able to have an opening night last year. I think for many students, I would say for at least half of them, this is going to be the first time they’ll be performing opening night.”  

The pandemic caused the cancellation of many performances the ensembles at the music school had planned. Junior clarinetist Kendall Howard was one of many students who could not perform last year. 

“This is my first time performing for the opening night,” Howard said.  

“My freshman year, spring semester, I made orchestra. But then I had to miss out on the rest of it because of COVID, and I had to miss out on [playing in the] opera. I’m looking forward to lots of in-person rehearsals and doing small ensemble things.” 

Unlike Howard, Hannah Dickerson, a senior bassoonist, will be a returning performer to the event 

She said that she found both positive and negative aspects to the hiatus from performing.  

“[The pandemic] definitely affected me negatively and positively. Negatively, because I wasn’t able to be in ensembles for so long, and that is a big part of helping me become a better musician,” Dickerson said. “Positively, it definitely gave me more time to practice. So, I took that time to practice.” 

Opening Night at the Scheidt will also feature a special performance from jazz pianist Alvie Givhan and artist Hamlett Dobbins. A 14-minute stop-motion animation created by Dobbins will be paired with Givhan’s piano playing. 

The animation came to life after Dobbins listened to a playlist curated by Givhan.  

“I listened to a bunch of the music that Alvie suggested while I was making the animation, so that kind of got me excited,” Dobbins said. “Usually whenever I do anything creative in the studio, I always try to have music going. Music is such a great conduit for motion and energy and excitement that goes into the practice.” 

Like many others, Dobbins’ work as both an artist and professor has also been stifled because of the pandemic.  

“Teaching art during the pandemic is obviously really hard, but it’s not hard for the reasons you might normally think,” Dobbins said. “It’s really hard just because of the little things that students get from one another. I felt like we were able to cover sixty percent of what we really needed to, but I feel like that extra bit was the connections that students get with one another.”  

Opening Night of the Scheidt will be September 17 at 6:30 p.m. in Harris Hall at the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music building. Free tickets to the concert can be reserved through the music school’s page othe University of Memphis website.

Photo: Rudi E. Schiedt School of Music 

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