GC Piano men give us a songBy TORI BACHMAN-JOHNSON
The upcoming Stephen Tilford Memorial Concert Series, a five-part event that spans the fall months, marks the fulfillment of the dreams of two generations of Music professors at Georgetown College— Daniel Tilford and the late Stephen Tilford.
Dr. Naomi Oliphant, a former teacher of Stephen Tilford’s, perhaps described it best when she said, “The name Tilford has been synonymous with Georgetown ever since I’ve lived in the state, so for at least the past 25 years.” In fact, the Tilford connection began many years before that. Stephen’s father, Dr. Daniel Tilford, graduated from GC in ‘59 and met his wife, Shirley, while attending the school. He spent 40 years teaching on the music faculty of the college, and two of his children (Bradley and Jane Ellen) graduated from GC as well. Though Stephen didn’t attend his father’s alma mater (“I was the piano teacher—he was too good to be taught by me,” Daniel Tilford explained), he succeeded his father as piano professor in 1999. But sadly, in Feb. 2005, Stephen was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer. After undergoing chemotherapy, he was pronounced cancer free in November of the same year, but by April 2006, the cancer had reoccurred. On Sept. 10, 2006, Stephen lost his battle with cancer.
Stephen’s unfulfilled dream, according to his father, was to have a Steinway Grand Piano sitting on the Chapel stage. In 2004, Stephen was in contact with a Louisville company that could supply the piano. Daniel Tilford thought the dream was farfetched. But after Stephen’s passing, while Daniel was going through his son’s files, he found documents from Stephen’s contact with the company. “I thought, ‘Let’s go with this,’” said Daniel, who then, in connection with GC, established the Stephen Tilford Memorial Concert Grand Piano Fund to fulfill Stephen’s dream. “It was just amazing how the money came in,” he said. By September 2007, approximately half the necessary funds had been donated, and on March 13, 2009, the Memorial Concert Grand was delivered to the Chapel.
The effort was truly collaborative; over 400 people expressed their love and respect for Stephen by making donations that paid for the piano. “It gives you an idea of the feeling people had for [Stephen] that they were able to purchase such a beautiful instrument,” said Dr. Oliphant. Likewise, Daniel Tilford saw his own dream accomplished in 2007 when a Johannus organ from Holland was installed in the Chapel. Named the Osborne-Tilford Family Organ (because the money for the organ was bequeathed by Mrs. Mildred Osborne and donated by an anonymous alumnus of the college), the instrument is comprised of two parts—a CavaillÈ Coll and a Van Rhijn Baroque organ. The Steinway Grand Piano (a Model D) is, according to many musicians, one of the finest of the finest instrument, a golden standard and the choice of concert artists and educational institutions alike.
The remarkable part of the story, however, is not the grand instrument, but the man behind it, and the people it has brought together. With only one exception, all the performers knew Stephen Tilford personally, and their eagerness to take part in the concert series is a testament to his impact on the lives of so many. The concert series begins this Sunday, Sept. 20 with Chris Oelkers, a concert organist. Oeklers will be performing as Brad Pitt’s musician body double in the upcoming motion picture The Tree of Life. If you haven’t heard of the film, you’re not alone— director Terrence Malick is notoriously secretive about his projects. The film will be released on Christmas Day of this year, and also stars Sean Penn, along with (rumor has it) dinosaurs shot in IMAX.
Oelkers, who is well-known for his extemporary skills, will be doing improvisations on familiar hymns. A past finalist in the American Guild of Organists National Competition in Organ Improvisation, he has performed throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. He currently lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and daughter. Dan Benjamin, an ‘80 graduate of GC who studied organ under Dr. Daniel Tilford,coordinated Oelkers’ performance in the series. Benjamin was pivotal in the selection, purchase, and installation of the Osborne-Tilford Family Organ, as a dealer for the Rivierstad Organ Consultants company. Daniel Tilford described Benjamin as “like a member of the family,” and Daniel, Shirley and Stephen all played at Benjamin’s wedding. Benjamin’s wife, Janie, was a student of Daniel Tilford’s as well.
One week later, on Sept. 27, the series continues with Naomi Oliphant, piano, and Daniel Weeks, tenor. Professors in the University of Louisville School of Music, the pair have performed in recitals together since 1999 and released a CD in 2008. Stephen Tilford was a piano student of Dr. Oliphant’s at the University of Louisville. “[He was] one of the students who from the very beginning became a favorite of the faculty,” she said. “Stephen was a hard-worker, a role model, and he had a sense of humor…He was a student you felt particularly close to.” Daniel Weeks attended Florida State University, where he met Stephen and the two became friends.
On Oct. 11, four pianists—Michael Potapov, Ruth Reid Tompkins, Caleb Richie, and Elizabeth Wolfe—will perform the third concert of the series. Wolfe and Tompkins were both classmates of Stephen’s, and Potapov and Richie were his students. Potapov, a 2005 graduate of GC who currently serves on the board of the Lexington Ballet, described studying under Stephen. “I enjoyed Stephen a lot. I was trying to finish out my piano education and he was pushing me to work more,” Potapov said. “I think he wanted me to achieve greater things than I wanted for myself…He was wonderful to think through the music with, and I certainly learned a lot from him.” “I’m glad that this series will be happening and I hope it can become an annual thing,” he added.
GC’s own Dr. Mami Hayashida, Assistant Professor of Music, and her husband, Daniel Mason, take the stage on Nov. 8 for the next concert. Mason is a professor of violin at the University of Kentucky and the Concertmaster of the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra. The series wraps up on Nov. 15 with organist Glenna Armstrong Metcalfe, an ‘85 graduate of Georgetown College and the current organist/choir director at Faith Baptist Church. She also teaches music at Anne Mason Elementary School in Scott County.
All concerts will take place on Sunday afternoons at 3 p.m. in the John L. Hill Chapel. “I think he’d be tickled to know that this is happening,” said Dr. Oliphant of the concert series. However, in the midst of the excitement surrounding the upcoming concert series and the installment of the new piano, one sentiment was echoed over and over again by Stephen’s friends and family—“I just wish he could be here to play it.”
VIP Day provides closer look at GC
“It’s . . . everything you need to know about Georgetown crammed into four or five hours.”By EVAN HARRELL
Visit in Person (VIP) Days here at Georgetown are very important to the college as well as its prospective students. There are several of these days throughout the fall and spring semesters targeting juniors and seniors in high school who are looking at Georgetown College. They are held on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays throughout the school year and typically last around four to five hours. “It’s a great opportunity for students to see Georgetown and learn a lot in that short period of time,” says Amy Cornell, a Georgetown admissions counselor.
A normal VIP Day brings anywhere from 70 to 100 students here and consists of a tour of campus, meeting faculty at the Faculty Fair, attending classes of their choice, eating lunch on campus, and meeting with their admissions counselor. The parents have their own session where they meet with the Dean of Students, the Provost and Financial Aid and Scholarship personnel. Cornell says, “It’s really just everything you need to know about Georgetown crammed into four or five hours.”
VIP Days also give a more expansive look at Georgetown College than a normal visit would. “It lets [students] see more about campus,” says Cornell. “One-on-one visits are great, but you only get an hour-long tour, and have a 30-minute meeting with your admissions counselor. With VIP Day, you really get to see more of the Georgetown environment. The parents get more interactivity as well.” Georgetown offers quite a bit of variety when it comes to VIP Days. They try to accommodate most students’ schedules by holding VIP Days on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. They also offer special Math & Science and Music VIP Days for students who are specifically interested in those areas.
Cornell says, “We also have a special one on Sept. 24. It starts at 3 p.m. and ends at 7 p.m., and after that, the students and their families can watch the football game for free. That way they can just see the spirit that Georgetown has.” Cornell also says that the Saturday VIP Days tend to be the most popular. There are also two other ones in November that seniors usually attend to help narrow down their college choice.
The first VIP Day of the year will be this Friday, Sept. 18, and the Admissions Office is expecting about 50-60 students. The other VIP Days for the fall semester are: Sept. 24, Oct. 10, Nov. 7 and Nov. 21. There are already over 75 students registered for Oct. 10, and Cornell expects there will be well over 100 when Oct. 10 rolls around.
For more information on VIP Days or to see how you can help, visit the Admissions Office in the Patterson House on the Corner of East Main Street and Memorial Drive, or call (502) 863-8009.
UNG brings global style to GCBy LAURA KITCHENS
Interested in learning about other cultures, and looking for an exciting way to do it? The United Nations of Georgetown’s mission is to expose Georgetown College students to cultures from around the world. On Thursday, Sept. 17, the UNG will be doing just that by hosting an international fashion show that will bring pieces of many different backgrounds right here to our school.
Both teachers and students are collaborating to bring native clothing from over 10 countries to campus. These outfits will be displayed on the runway by student models. With each outfit, information on the outfits’ origins and purpose will be shared, including information on what social status it represents. Music from the countries on display will be played throughout the show.
Also taking place during the show will be a professional Japanese Noh performance, which is a cross between a musical, drama and theatrical production. Other cultures represented include China, Burma, Nigeria, Czechoslovakia, Morocco and the Middle East, among others. The show will take place in the Knight Hall Chapel at 8 p.m.
The UNG will be hosting a series of other events throughout the year to help students gain cultural exposure. Be on the lookout for events such as International Homecoming, lessons in Spanish salsa and African dancing, as well as dinners at local ethnic restaurants. Keep an eye on the Tiger- Tidbits for more information on these events.