By Kendra Johnson, Arts Editor
The OBU Division of Music will soon bid farewell to one of its longest-serving individuals.
Dr. Jim Hansford has already been retired from his role as of Burton H. Patterson Professor of Music for quite some time. However, this spring the OBU/Shawnee Community Orchestra’s spring concert marked Hansford’s retirement from his role as the orchestra’s director and conductor – a role he has filled since the group began 20 years ago.
“We have been so lucky to have Dr. Hansford here at OBU,” junior music education major and flutist and piccoloist Lauren Rivers said. “He truly cared for each and every member in the orchestra and the fine arts program would not be the same if it wasn’t for all of the years and wisdom he put into this program.”
Other students agree.
“Dr. Hansford is a dedicated musician and has given so much time to help this orchestra, I say this because he deserves to be recognized as this is his last concert,” freshman worship studies and women’s ministry major and second violinist Alethea,” Jade Coffey said.
Hanford passion for music has fueled his long career as a music educator and conductor.
“Just seeing Dr. Hansford conduct, it is evident that he loved music and loves being a director,” Coffey said. “His passion for music just reminded me that no matter the age always do what you love.”
This same passion for music shows in his enthusiasm during rehearsals.
“He would get so excited when a piece came together, as we have so many instruments that it is very easy for one little thing to go wrong,” Coffey said. “He just gets so excited for the little victories.”
All of the little victories the OBU/Shawnee Community Orchestra makes helps the students in the orchestra develop artistically.
“I have enjoyed seeing the growth of the orchestra,” Rivers said. “Throughout my time in the orchestra, we have made tremendous progress throughout the music we have played.”
Hansford encourages the students to take on difficult musical tasks.
“During the time I’ve been in the orchestra, Dr. Hansford always challenged the orchestra,” Rivers said. “This last year, he had me playing the piccolo part which has been extremely challenging. After a lot of hard work, I have learned to enjoy this instrument and I owe it all to Dr. Hansford.”
The OBU/Shawnee Community Orchestra is a joint musical effort of OBU students, faculty and community members that was founded by Hansford. The ensemble comes together in weekly rehearsals to prepare for its performances.
“One of the biggest challenges is that we only meet once a week which isn’t always enough time to put together an entire concert,” Rivers said.
Like many OBU music ensembles, handling these scheduling difficulties in one of the largest challenges the group faces, especially during busy parts of the spring semester.
“Some challenges for be-ing in the orchestra this year was mainly trying to juggle the degree, homework, study sessions, and practicing all in a week or even on days or rehearsal,” Coffey said. “Yet Dr. Hansford was very understanding of life getting in the way but made sure we kept up the amazing standard that the orchestra has.”
This spring, as it bids its director and founder goodbye, the orchestra prepared for its spring concert 7:30 p.m., April 26, in Raley Chapel’s Potter Auditorium. The concert featured many pieces that hold a special place in Hansford’s heart.
“I decided to include several of my favorite musical works for this final concert with the orchestra,” Hansford said in a press release April 16. “Upon reflecting on my 46 years as a band director, I have programmed a couple of my favorite wind band works that have been transcribed for orchestra.”
The works performed included a variety of musical styles, ranging from John Barry’s “Somewhere in Time,” to Edvard Grieg’s “Holberg Suite” to Alfred Reed’s “Russian Christmas Music.”
“This year has gone by so fast, we have performed and are preparing to perform so many amazing pieces,” Coffey said. “They all emphasize different instruments and are completely different.”
After the performance, a reception was held to celebrate Hansford full retirement from the OBU faculty and staff, and students also planned a surprise for their director.
“The orchestra has planned on having all the members sign a framed picture of the orchestra,” Rivers said. “Many members have also put together money for a gift card.”