The versatility, growth and new opportunities that have been present- ed to Pacific’s music program is some- thing that leaves professor Michael Burch-Pesses with a hopeful outlook for the future.
“When I arrived at Pacific in 1995 I had 17 members in the band, and we had no orchestra program at all,” recalled Burch-Pesses. “The band this year has more than 50 members, the orchestra is the largest ensemble on campus, the chamber singers have expanded from 16 to approximately 30 singers, and the concert choir has been inaugurated to include even more vocalists from the student body”
For Burch-Pesses, “our cup run- neth over” is an understatement to describe the growth of the music pro- gram.
“I’m always excited at the end of each semester when our student en- sembles present the music in concert that they’ve been working on,” said Burch-Pesses of the students’ efforts. “Each concert is the culmination of a lot of hard work and private practice on the students’ part, and they richly deserve the applause they receive.”
Burch-Pesses can even watch his
students use their musical education after life at Pacific with the annual Music in May festival, following com- mencement. Nearly 400 high school students are brought to campus to rehearse with the band, orchestra and choir for two days so that they can present on the third day.
“Our own students help as mentors to the high school students and the festival is always a huge suc- cess,” said Burch-Pesses. “Many of our current music students are alum- ni of Music in May.”
With the time he has spent on sabbatical, Burch-Pesses gained much inspiration he plans to bring when he returns to Pacific to make the music program even more diverse.
“During my research at the Australian Music Centre in Sydney, I found so many wonderful Australian band works that I’m having trouble deciding which ones to include on the Aussie concert I want to do next year,” shared Burch-Pesses. “That’s a really nice problem to have.”
On a broader scale, Burch-Pesses is looking for more recruitment in the future for the music ensembles.
“The entire music department is active in recruiting,” said Burch- Pesses. “It would be terrific to have enough players to begin a chamber music program for wind instru- ments similar to that for our string players.”