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The Monday Memo is a weekly electronic newsletter published for the faculty and staff of Eastern New Mexico University. The editor is Wendel Sloan.
ENMU Alumni Participated in
the TriBeca Film Festival
interview by Shantiana White
"I want to continue to stay active composing and arranging music."
Q: How was your experience at TriBeca?
A: Great! Everyone there was very friendly & accommodating. My wife, Jean, and I stayed at the TriBeca Hilton, so attending everything was easy. A subway stop was right outside the hotel, so commuting to the different venues was a snap.
Q: Why did you want to participate in this particular New York film festival?
A: A concert band piece that I composed in 1998 was featured in the independent film "Bluebird," which premiered at the festival. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me to hear my music performed within the linear context of a 90-minute film.
Q: Have you participated in other festivals besides this one?
A: I've gone to some screenings of films at the Dallas Film Festival, but never for the entire festival proper...just a few films I wanted to see. I am a member of the Dallas Film Society, so that creates some opportunities for me to see smaller, independent films that I might not otherwise ever know about
Q: Describe the composition work you did?
A: The title of the concert band piece is "A Walk With McCarley." It's a slow, ballad-like work that has an Irish flavor throughout, with a middle section that is reminiscent of the "wild west." Historically, much of the music that we associate with the "wild west" has its roots in Scotch/Irish folk songs, so the two blended together quite well.
Q: What was the film you submitted entitled?
A: The title of the film is "Bluebird," but I didn't do anything with the film proper. The director, Lance Edmunds, grew up in Maine, graduated from NYU Film School and was accepted for additional apprentice work at the Sundance Institute.
He based the film in northern Maine, with all the shooting done on location in a small logging community there in January...snow everywhere and temperatures getting down to -20 or so at night, and never rising above freezing for months!
The cinematography effectively depicts the starkness of winters in Maine, and the story itself is tragic. The story revolves around a small community of around 2,000 that is losing its local logging industry and a school bus driver who makes a tragic mistake when she is distracted by a bluebird flying inside her bus when she parks it after completing her bus run one afternoon. Bluebirds are migratory birds that have no place in Maine in January.
I'll go into no more detail than that, in hopes that the film will be picked up by a distributor, and anyone reading this might have an opportunity to see it themselves.
Before shooting began, Lance was visiting the various shooting locations (police department, local high school, etc.) and happened to hear the high school band rehearsing my piece. He thought its sadness would be perfect for the film, and in reality, it fits in extremely well.
By our standards of public school bands in Texas and eastern New Mexico, the band there is not very good, but it's performance adds to the tragedy that unfolds. So, it's purely through a stroke of luck that Lance heard and chose to include my piece!
It's an uninterrupted scene of 30-45 seconds, so my music is woven into the fabric of the narrative.
|Van Ragsdale and his wife, Jean, before the premier|
Q: What was your inspiration for creating your submitted piece?
A: I wrote "A Walk With McCarley" for my very close friend, Cindy Bulloch (yes..Bulloch, NOT Bullock!) and her Nimitz Junior High School Band in Odessa, Texas. Robert McCarley had been her principal...he dearly loved the band but had passed away within a year after his retirement. I wrote the work to honor him and pay tribute to the band and Cindy. Mr. McCarley had spent his entire life in west Texas, and, as his name would indicate, was of Scotch/Irish lineage.
The main musical theme came to me late one night as I was driving from Odessa to my childhood home in Pampa, Texas for Thanksgiving. I literally took out a pencil and notepad from the center console of my car and wrote the notes of the theme as I drove down the highway while my wife, Jean and two children slept as I drove! I knew it was perfect for the piece that I wanted to write but also knew that if I didn't write it down immediately, it would disappear from my memory. (Today I use my iPhone to record themes that jump into my head as this one did, but in the winter of 1997, that technology didn't exist.)
The piece premiered in May of 1998 at an honor concert in which the Nimitz band was awarded the Sudler Cup, a very prestigious award in the band community. Mrs. McCarley was in attendance but knew nothing of the piece until she heard it that night. Needless to say, it was a very special and poignant moment. She asked me at a reception after the concert if I planned to publish it. I told her I hadn't even thought about that...I was simply trying to get it finished for the band to play on that concert! She said "I think Robert would be very honored if it were published." So, I sent a recording to Southern Music Company in San Antonio. The publisher liked it, published it, and since then, it's had very wide distribution throughout the world.
Q: What were some of the challenges you had to face preparing for this festival?
A: None really, other than the serendipity of my piece being chosen for the film. SMC informed me of its inclusion in the film last February. After that, it was a matter of trying to locate when and where the premier would be and make contact with the film's director, producer, music supervisor, etc.
Q. What do you do for a living?
A: I'm a retired band director of 33 years. Since my retirement in 2001, I have been consulting with bands throughout Texas and have been adjunct on the music faculty at Texas A&M-Commerce.
Q. What are your degrees and majors (include names of schools)?
A: I have two degrees from ENMU - Bachelor of Music Ed and Master of Arts. I've done additional post-graduate work at Sam Houston State University in public school administrative certification.
Q: How did you become interested in film? Did anyone inspire you?
A: Ha! When I was a kid growing up in the 1950s in the Texas panhandle, there was nothing else to do! Television was in its infancy, so every Saturday my friends and I would ride our bikes to the local cinema, usually to catch a double feature western or perhaps a singleton that would also include a newsreel and a cartoon.
The first movie that I remember seeing was "Bambi." I cried for hours when Bambi's mother was shot, an incident that, to this day, has caused me to never want to hunt or harm wild animals (or tame animals) in anyway. The next movie I vividly remember seeing was "Friendly Persuasion" with my dad.
Pat Boone was beginning to become a big star who I idolized, and his singing of the title song caused my dad to think he had a role in the movie. Such was not the case, but the movie was great anyway. Other great movies I remember seeing growing up include "The Ten Commandments," "The Man Who Knew Too Much," "Ben-Hur," and "The Bridge on the River Kwai." Then, in 1960, when I saw "The Magnificent Seven," the power of film music was awakened in me!
|The "Bluebird" director, Lance Edmunds, and Van Ragsdale
at the post-premier party.
"It was a spectacular…New York City in every way!"
Q. Where were you born, raised, and what was your life like growing up (what did parents do, siblings, etc.)?
A: I was born and grew up in Pampa, Texas. My childhood was very normal. My dad was a pharmacist, attending college on the GI bill after WWII when I was young. I remember attending his college graduation from Southwestern Oklahoma in Weatherford.
My mother and I took the train from Pampa to Weatherford, as my dad had the only car they owned. My mother was a housewife (not unusual in those days).
My sister, Beth, is eight years younger than I am. We both joined the band - I began playing trombone in the 4th grade, and she later played the clarinet and was a twirler in the band.
Q. Your own family?
A: I met my wife, Jean Parker, at the music listening room in the ENMU music building in 1966. She stood me up on our first date, and I've been paying her back ever since! She sang in the university choir and played flute in the band after we started dating.
We were married in Santa Fe during spring break in 1967. We have two grown children - Vicki is a registered nurse and entrepreneur in Dallas, and Jim is the head band director at MacArthur HS in San Antonio, Tx. His daughter (my granddaughter), Avery, is nine. She calls me Vandad.
Q. What are your hobbies?
Listening to music, going to movies, watching movies on tv (yea, TCM!), composing, teaching band, traveling, spending time with my family.
My main hobby would perhaps be magic. I fooled around with it a little (bought a few simple magic tricks) when I was a kid but gave it up when I discovered girls!
Then when I retired from teaching full time in 2001, a good friend of mine showed me a couple of card tricks and I was hooked again (not that I wasn't still interested in girls, you understand, but I had been married for 35 years, so….). I use it to entertain & motivate kids when I'm speaking to them. I have 2-3 kid show that I've put together…each about 45 minutes.
That's my passion in magic…to entertain kids and is something else I hope to do more of now that I'm "retiring" again. We'll see…!
Q. What is your ultimate career goal?
Since I'm now "retired," I guess I've reached it. I had a great career as a band director and the the honor of working with some amazing students through the years. I will say, though, that my Walter Mitty dream would be to be a film composer. I can see myself matching wits with the likes of John Williams and Howard Shore. Of course, the James Thurber in me would write the narrative that way!
Q. What gives your life meaning. Besides career goals, what else do you hope to accomplish?
I want to continue to stay active composing and arranging music. And, I'm not gonna give up on Walter Mitty either...who knows?
Q. What is your general impression of Portales, and ENMU?
I love Portales and ENMU! Much of what I am today was formed by my great experiences in school there. Studying with Floren Thompson, Doreen Grimes, Harold Popp and so many other inspiration professors truly shaped my life.
And the tradition continues today with President Gamble and the vision that he has for the University. And Director of Bands, Dustin Seifert, has done such a tremendous job restoring the band to it level of excellence. And my good friend, Noel Bartl....I could go on and on!
My biggest regret is that I live so far away (Garland, just east of Dallas), it is difficult to visit Portales often. I do try to make it every couple of years for the Alumni Band, which will meet again next June.
|Polo Shirts on Sale to Everyone!|
These stylish Polo shirts, available in various sizes, are on sale to everyone – faculty, staff, students and community members.
|Vic and Tory T-Shirts for Sale|
|Former Zia Basketball Player Passes Away|
Michele N. (Nasi) Scott, 46, of Abilene passed away at her home on July 24 2013. There will be a visitation on Monday, July 29, from 6-8pm at the Piersall Funeral Directors 733 Butternut Street Abilene, Texas. A private family graveside will be held Tuesday morning July 30, 2013 with a memorial service to follow at 10:00 am at the Pioneer Drive Baptist Church.
She had a true gift for coaching and teaching. Her passion and ability to bring out the best in her students and players was amazing.
Since 2005 when their family moved to Abilene, Michele has taught science for the AISD. First at the Woodson Center for Excellence and the last two years at Abilene High. After taking a break from coaching while their children were young, Michele returned to coach the freshman girls basketball team last year. Michele was a member of Pioneer Drive Baptist Church and was active in the Timothy Department.
Michele was preceded in death by her father, John Nasi. She is survived by her loving husband Mike, her three children that she adored, Derek, Allison and Jalyn, her mother, Heather of Gallup, brothers, Mark Nasi and wife Carolyn, of Albuquerque, their children Nicole and Matthew, Michael Nasi and wife Thresa of Austin, Texas, and their children Ella, Anna and Wilson, mother and father-in-law Dale and Pat Scott of Hereford, Texas, brothers and sisters-in- law Terry and Sheila Scott of Argyle, Texas, and their children Jacob and Alyssa, Jason Scott of Scottsdale, Arizona, Carola and Jerry Ashworth of Amarillo, Texas, and their children David and wife Bekah and Tyler and wife Kristen. She will be greatly missed by her many friends and students as well as her loved ones.
A Memorial Fund has been established in Michele Scott's name at First Financial Bank. Donations may be sent c/o Mike Scott, 2150 Elmwood Dr., Abilene, TX 79605. Condolences offered to the family online at www.pbfuneraldirectors.com. - See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/reporternews/obituary.aspx?n=michele-n-scott&pid=166063848&eid=sp_shareobit#fbLoggedOut