Di­rec­tor hon­ored with surprise con­cert

Serve Daily - - FRONT PAGE - By Christi C. Bab­bitt

About 150 Springville High School alumni crowded onto the SHS stage on Aug. 6 to surprise their for­mer or­ches­tra di­rec­tor with a con­cert hon­or­ing his ef­forts to help them play and love mu­sic.

For­mer SHS Di­rec­tor of Or­ches­tras Sam Tsug­awa was greeted with a stand­ing ova­tion from the au­di­ence and the mu­si­cians on stage as he en­tered the SHS au­di­to­rium at the be­gin­ning of the con­cert. Tsug­awa said af­ter­ward that he had heard that some of his for­mer stu­dents were plan­ning some­thing, but he had no idea the event would be so large. “I’m deeply hon­ored,” he said. Tsug­awa re­tired at the end of the 2015- 16 school year after teach­ing mu­sic at SHS for 27 years. Hun­dreds of stu­dents went through his pro­gram, and Springville be­came known as one of the best high school or­ches­tra pro­grams in Utah. His in­flu­ence over stu­dents will con­tinue,

how­ever, as he re­cently be­gan work­ing as an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of mu­sic ed­u­ca­tion at Brigham Young Univer­sity.

The idea for the surprise con­cert came from Kjer­sti Jones Chris­tensen, a 2008 SHS grad­u­ate who went through Tsug­awa’s pro­gram. The word got out and for­mer stu­dents from through­out Tsug­awa’s 27 years of teach­ing be­gan meet­ing to re­hearse for the con­cert un­der the di­rec­tion of Paul Wells, Gavin Ful­wider and Dustin Grady, three of Tsug­awa’s for­mer stu­dents who are now mu­sic ed­u­ca­tors them­selves.

The mu­sic was a col­lec­tion of fa­vorites that Tsug­awa had his stu­dents play over the years, in­clud­ing “The Lord of the Dance,” a piece that be­came the tra­di­tional con­cert closer for Tsug­awa’s or­ches­tras. This piece was the clos­ing num­ber at the Aug. 6 con­cert as well, with the per­form­ers invit­ing Tsug­awa up to di­rect them in the piece.

“Sam has been (and con­tin­ues to be) the most influential teacher I have had through all of my school­ing,” Chris­tensen said. “Five years of or­ches­tra, after-school fid­dling and who knows how many con­certs, early morn­ing re­hearsals, three or­ches­tra tours and many ses­sions of ad­vice even after high school as I was work­ing through my de­gree in mu­sic. I can say with­out hes­i­ta­tion that Sam is ab­so­lutely phe­nom­e­nal, in­cred­i­ble, car­ing and ded­i­cated.”

At the surprise con­cert, Tsug­awa was seated at the front of the au­di­to­rium and the alumni, all dressed in con­cert black, be­gan their per­for­mance. Act­ing as em­cees for the event were Bryan “Doc” Tobler, for­mer di­rec­tor of bands at SHS, and Pa­trice Bolen, who served for many years as color guard in­struc­tor for the SHS March­ing Band.

Tsug­awa orig­i­nally came to SHS as a sub­sti­tute teacher, Tobler and Bolen told the au­di­ence. A for­mer drum ma­jor for the BYU March­ing Band, Tsug­awa main in­stru­ment was trom­bone. This made him an un­likely can­di­date for the di­rec­tor of or­ches­tras po­si­tion at the school, but the of­fer came, and Tsug­awa ac­cepted.

Tobler said Tsug­awa took lessons in the dif­fer­ent string in­stru­ments so he could learn to play and re­ally un­der­stand them. While build­ing the SHS or­ches­tra pro­gram, he also helped out with the SHS March­ing Band. Bolen said she es­ti­mated that be­tween or­ches­tra and band tours over the years, Tsug­awa had trav­eled more than 60,000 miles in char­ter buses.

“It started as a job and it ended up be­ing a great life,” Tsug­awa said of his time at SHS. He called the ex­pe­ri­ence of di­rect­ing for­mer stu­dents again “sur­real.”

He said he looked for­ward to in­struct­ing up­com­ing teach­ers at BYU so hope­fully they could have a teach­ing ca­reer like the one he en­joyed.

*** Our Founders al­ways won­dered about how long it would last. The price of lib­erty is ever­last­ing vig­i­lance. You’ve got to be on your guard ev­ery minute or you will lose it. - Michael No­vak

Un­known

For­mer Springville High School Di­rec­tor of Or­ches­tras Sam Tsug­awa di­rects about 150 of his for­mer stu­dents in a surprise con­cert held in his honor Aug. 6.

Sam Tsug­awa ac­cepts the au­di­ence’s ap­plause after a surprise con­cert held in his honor.

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