Category Archives: Blog

Falling for Autumn!

 

autumn-leaves-wallpapers-photos

 

Yo! It’s been a while since my last post. A lot has happened in the past couple of months. I recently completed a summer position at the Salvation Army’s Central Territorial Headquarters as the Music & Gospel Arts intern. That consisted of working with the Music Department in getting ready for CMI (Central Music Institute), making copies of music and filling folders, and going to different music camps and leading different groups. The final music camp I went to, Camp Mihaska (St. Louis, MO) actually is responsible for a new piece I’ve written entitled The Ramsdale Rumble, written for the 2016 Ramsdale Band, of which I was able to be the Bandmaster. It was a great summer and definitely one I will never forget.

Now I’m back at Asbury University for my senior year, and with that comes recitals. The first of which is my composition recital on November 21. The pieces that are complete that will be featured in said recital are the following:

  • Fanfare & Theme – For the World
  • Choral Selection – Anchored!
  • Oboe Solo – Schelltic Praise!
  • Choral Meditation – Give to Jesus Glory
  • Congregational Song – My Hope!

It is a joint recital with senior violist Christa Neal, so it should be a nice programme. More information and recordings will be posted at a later date.

In other news, I recently been asked to write a recessional for the wedding of two friends: Eddie George and Morgan Irish. That wedding will be this Sunday and am looking forward to the beautiful ceremony. I have also been asked to score another film. This new one is by my own roommate Donny Black, a fledgling filmmaker. I have previously scored Claire Lafferty’s In Time and Lucas Green’s Nerds, so we shall see how this goes. Donny and I have already, albeit briefly, discussed possible story ideas for his film and what direction he wants the music to go in so it will be a good challenge.

Luckily, after my recital I will be able to return to writing music of my own volition (i.e. solely for the Salvation Army) and I didn’t realize how much I missed that until I had no time to do it anymore. I have a few ideas of stuff I could do but we’ll see what actually happens. Thanks for reading this brief update! I have a French quiz in the morning so I’m going to sleep!

Keep your head on a swivel!

-Mbesi, Fred

 

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Back to the Future!

Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly riding into 2015 in “Back to the Future II.”

Happy Belated New Year from TroyFred Productions!

Hope you all are well. Today’s post picture is provided for you by “Back to the Future II.” This is the year that Marty McFly arrived in in the second part of the trilogy, and there’s not a hoverboard or “Jaws 19” in sight.

Looking back at the year 2014, it was a very good year for us here at TF&P. Let’s look at the pieces of music that were written over the past year:

Song Setting – Peacemaker (2014)

Song Arrangement – Glad You Came (2014)

Festival March – Creed (2014)

Festival Arrangement – Greased! (2014)

Festival Prelude – The Following (2014)

Overture – Fancy Faves! (2014)

I’m also happy to reminisce on the premieres of “Glad You Came,” “The Following,” “Chronicles of Faith,” and “Fancy Faves.” That’s four premieres in a year! Holy snot, that’s great! Another amazing thing that has been happening in 2014 is the production of the next TroyFred Productions film “More than Conquerors.” Filming has been completed and editing/score-writing is underway. In addition to that, many of ya’ll will know of my relocation to Asbury University in the Fall 0f 2014. With the guidance of Professor Nathan Miller, James Curnow, and many of the music staff at the building, we can only imagine the new opportunities that will be coming. I have been asked to be the Bandmaster of the pit orchestra for the Sophomore Musical production of “Once Upon a Mattress” and I plan on working on the following projects throughout the year:

  • Score for “More than Conquerors” Film
  • Thematic Sequel to “The Following
  • SSAA Choral Work for the Asbury University Women’s Chorus (Conductor: Prof. Jill Campbell)
  • “Thrift Shop” arrangement for Asbury University SASF Band (B/M Nathan Miller)
  • “Fancy Faves Vol. 2” for the 2015 Fall Variety Show
  • A new Trombone Solo for Jake Luhn of the Oakcreek Corps Band
  • A new Overture, somewhat along the lines of “Whom Shall I Fear

I am also pleased to announce the first new piece of 2015 has been completed! It is a festival arrangement entitled “Illuminate!” and I am very pleased of how it turned out. Is it perfect? Knowing me, probably not. You can check it out at the link at the bottom of this blog post. More updates will be given soon but I am excited to fulfill this calling that God has placed upon my life. I can already tell this is going to be a great year! Did I mention that “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” comes out this year?!?!?!

Until next time, stay frosty!

F. Mbesi

Festival Arrangement – Illuminate! (2015)

Chronicles of Awesome!

EVERYTHING-IS-AWESOME

Hey, y’all! I reckon it’s been a while so here goes an update to share how things are going in the world of TroyFred Productions.

More Than Conquerors

A new movie poster for 2015’s More Than Conquerors, my entry into the Salvation Army’s Boundless Film Festival, will be on its way. For the few gang-related scenes I have to film, I have been able to recruit a few cast members for this expedition through film-making, in addition to a crew for the filming process. Watch this space for more information. The teaser trailer for the film can be seen on my Facebook page.

The Asburian Difference

Things are going well at Asbury. I am involved in a plethora of activities, including the Men’s Glee Club, Concert Band, Orchestra, SASF (Band & Songsters), and I also write for the Collegian, local college newspaper. In specifics, I review 2014 films and am part of the newly-formed CollegianTV team, in charge of making sweet videos about a number of events that happen around campus. New Musicology professor Nathan Miller also gave me a job as being part of his Orchestra staff. With that, I get to do the following: Filing/copying music, live-tweeting and advertising orchestra concerts/events, arranging and transposing music parts, public relations, and other tasks/duties that Prof. Miller wants me to do. There may also be a certain development in the next week or so, so I’ll let you know in due course.

Music!

Many of you are aware of my recent completion of “The Following,” a new concert opener for the African Missions event taking place at the Rockford Temple Corps in the next few weeks. My musical exploits have attracted the attention of resident Kentucky composer and friend James Curnow. Jim is interested in having me study with him so I can refine my compositional/conducting skills and improve on them, which is an opportunity I cannot (nor will I) pass up. Coincidentally, Jim (along with Chicago Staff Bandmaster Bill Himes OF) were both former soldiers at the Royal Oak Citadel Corps, and they were both taught by my grandfather Max Wood. Now I feel as though the circle is being completed as they are now teaching me what they know and what they learned from experience and study. I’m blessed by this forthcoming opportunity and hope to improve drastically so my ministry can be more effective. Jim has already helped me edit “The Following” and he is excited to help me on future pieces of music. The Rockford Temple Band has begun rehearsing for that event and “The Following” was among the pieces on the rehearsal stand this past Wednesday. I am excited to be there for its world premiere, conducting it no less.

Speaking of premieres, my father informed me earlier this week that “Chronicles of Faith,” my first extended work for brass bandhad its African premiere by the Kintambo Band. I was thrilled to have been able to listen to that performance and am excited that people are using my music to worship God in different parts of the world. While seeing something I wrote performed (very well, might I add), the coolest part was seeing people singing along with some of the songs in the piece. Of course, I didn’t understand the language they were singing in but it was a blessing nevertheless to see people united worldwide by the act of lifting up their voices to praise God.  That performance can be viewed here:

You can read more about the piece on its composition page:

http://www.troyfredproduction.wordpress.com/compositions/chronicles-of-faith

Stay tuned for more updates from TroyFred Productions…and remember, EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!!!

 

F. Mbesi

 

Marching Onward!

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Well I promised you all an update and here it is! It’s been a great weekend here in my neck of the woods. On Friday I went to my first post-hardcore rock show of the new year: Mega Fest Detroit! This awesome event was held at the Compuware Arena in Plymouth and featured seven great bands: Northlane, Attila, Wilson, Issues, Of Mice & Men, We Came as Romans (they were my favorite, of course), and Bring Me the Horizon. An entire album of pictures from that event can be found on my FB page. Collin and I had a great time. All seven bands were on a mission that night: one great rock show could change the world…and it did! It was a spectacular night…culminating in going over to help tear down from our annual RadioThon event that DHQ runs at the mall. About $1.2 million was raised in a single day! Awesome!

I was home alone this weekend while the rest of my family ventured out to Kentucky for a meeting of the “Sound of Africa” band retreat with B/M Rick Potter (I first met him in 2012 at the NACF) in charge. They returned around an hour ago and a wonderful weekend was had. I spent the entire Saturday I had to myself by myself with Netflix and my computer writing/composing. It was fun :).

Sunday (today) was a very good day, I felt. We were treated to the Royal Oak Citadel YP Band (B/M Matt Coakley) and their first live performance of Andrew Mackereth’s “Dance Like David,” (T.S. 1180) a piece of music that was very popular back when it was published around 2008. It’s still a fine contribution to any concert/festival, famous for its four-bar drum solo section. The YP Band’s performance featured Noah Roberts on the trapset, and a fine job he did. Bill Roberts and Dick VanderWeele, eat your heart out! I also got to see people I haven’t seen in quite some time, such as my grandparents Max & Ruth Wood (having been snowed in for the past couple of weeks) and Byron Simmons, a great friend/mentor in my life. We were also treated to a great message by Capt. Catherine Mount on Hosea 14, a book I don’t read too often. There’s a lot of good material in there. After some food & fellowship with some good friends, we were back at the Corps for a United Holiness meeting. Now if you thought the attendance at our Corps on a regular Sunday morning was good, you should’ve seen the congregation at this afternoon service. It was literally a full house! The meeting definitely harkened back to the Salvation meetings of the old days and much of the band’s repertoire reflected that (featuring marches such as Collaroy, Amsterdam Congress, Cairo Red Shield, Marching Onward, and Charles Skinner’s “Songs of the Soldier” medley) while also giving praise and glory to God with the repertoire of the Songsters (A Jubilant Song!, Make a Joyful Noise Unto the Lord). The special guests for the meeting were Lt. Col. Dan & Rebecca Sjogren, who are famous in my life for being the very officers who dedicated me in that very chapel around twenty years ago! Lt. Col. Dan brought a powerful message complete with some Elvis-style singing and you could tell that the Holy Spirit was totally working in that place.

In the realm of composing, I have really been cracking down hard on the song setting requested by B/M Jerome Astwood. Since I have school off this week (Hallelujah!), it could very well be finished sometime soon! Two sections down and two to go! After that is finished and edited, I think my next priority would be to write a bit of my own volition and finish the arrangement on “10,000 Reasons” I started not too long ago. I do think this little hiatus I’ve taken from it will give me a fresh mind when I come back and revisit it. While doing that, I’ll also continue to come up with ideas for both my march for the Eastern Michigan Divisional Band (B/M Tom Hanton) and my “six minutes & splashy” piece for Nick Simmons-Smith and the Southern Territorial Band. The song “Mighty to Save” has been in my head recently, so that may be a part of this new piece of music that will probably be along the same lines as “Amazing Grace!” and “Whom Shall I Fear?“. Only time will tell, though. I will say that writing music to praise and give glory to God is a huge passion of mine. I love watching the progression as my pieces begin to get better and better…not saying they’re all great, but how far I’ve come in skill and how much farther I still have to progress. Praise God!

This upcoming weekend marks the very first meeting of the Territorial Youth Band & Chorus of the Central Territory. Following an extensive audition period, the roster for the band/chorus has been finalized and we begin our retreat of rehearsals out at Camp Wonderland this weekend. A lot of great pieces of music are on the repertoire list as we prepare for our premiere performance at this year’s Commissioning Congress. Pray for our leaders (Bill Himes, Peggy Thomas, Joe Caddy, Meghan Pierson), the staff, and the students that we all get something out of this weekend more than just advancing our musical prowess, but the true reason why those pieces of music were written: to give glory to God. It will also be a great time of fellowship as we see our CMI-brethren again.

Thank you for those who still remain interested in these updates! Hopefully another one will come soon!

F.M.

KFC – Kentucky-Found-Composers!

 

As some of you are aware, last weekend I was privileged enough to attend the bi-annual North American Composers Forum (NACF) held at Asbury University in Wilmore, KY. What a wonderful time it was! This event, put together by Dr. Ron Holz, featured faculty composers such as William Himes, Marty Thomas, Brian Bowen, Ivor and Jannette Bosanko, Dorothy Gates, Robert Redhead, Stephen Bulla, and Nick Simmons-Smith, along with the rising and upcoming composers of today. The Central Territory was well represented with my good friend Moriah Hellstrom, Andrew Wainwright, Peter Kim, and Martin Thies. It was a great time of fellowship and trading ideas from composer to composer. We had Brass/Choral reading sessions where we got to hear each other’s music. A highlight for me  was Dorothy Gates’s presentation on finding inspiration to write music through scripture, where she explained the genesis of a few of her pieces and the scripture that tied in with them. For the forum I submitted Whom Shall I Fear, Chronicles of Faith, Bieber Fever, and the Trash Cannes Festival Fanfare. Whom Shall I Fear was presented during the brass reading session. It was wonderful working with other composers throughout the country and being able to work with them and the faculty. I was able to work one-on-one with Robert Redhead, Marty Thomas, and Nick Simmons-Smith, all three of them giving wise feedback and things that can help my music get better. I even got a request from Nick to write a piece (“six minutes & splashy,” as he put it) for the Southern Territorial Band. All in all, it was a wonderful weekend and rest assured, I have not seen the last of Asbury University…

Coming off the reels of such a great weekend, I have begun work on a Euphonium Solo for Brian Rowland of the Royal Oak Citadel Band. This will be my first attempt at an extended work for Solo Euphonium and Band. Other requests for music are also coming in, which I am very excited for. Each one of them is an opportunity for me to potentially bless someone with the gift God has given me. Short update this time around but it’s nearly 1 o’clock in the morning and I have class/work/Beginner’s Band tomorrow!

God Bless

P.S. Sorry for the lame title of today’s blog post. I thought it was clever a few minutes ago when I typed it…but hey, you can’t win ’em all…

Christmas Time is Here!

So there are two possible explanations for all this white stuff on the ground: either God has a bad case of dandruff (in which case, eww…) or the Christmas season has come at last! …it’s definitely the second reason. This has been an exciting season so far with a lot of traveling for me. During this time, I work with our Divisional Music Directors Tom Hanton and Greg Payton playing around the Metro Detroit area at different events to support the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle efforts. We play at events such as rotary luncheons, Red Wings games, Kettle kickoffs, and the like. Just this morning we played at Leon’s Family Diner in Dearborn with their rotary club and other esteemed guests. It was a great time. I’ve also had the privilege of taking part in a four weekend long Salvation Army brass band excursion, if you will. The past four weekends consisted of concerts with the Eastern Michigan Divisional Band, Canadian Staff Band, OCE Divisional Youth Chorus, Flint Citadel Band, Dearborn Heights Citadel Band & Songsters, Chicago Staff Band, Sara Groves, Mayfair Community Church Band, and the Norridge Citadel Band. I’ve also had the opportunity to play Flugel Horn with the Oakbrook Terrace Band (B/M Shawn Okpebholo) and play Cornet with an ensemble at the Tri-City Corps with Ron & Carol Hedgren and a few others. God has blessed me with all these great experiences and all the wonderful people I’ve been able to be with during that time.

One of the events I attended during this excursion was the Mayfair Community Church’s 25th anniversary concert featuring both their corps band (B/M Peter Kim) and the Norridge Citadel Band (B/M Peggy Thomas), in addition to Paul & Kay Rader (R). In addition to wonderful pieces from the pen of Paul Lovatt-Cooper, Sam Park, Andrew Wainwright, and BMK himself, I was treated with the world premiere performance of my newest piece “Whom Shall I Fear?” I am indebted to Peggy and the band for giving it a spectacular performance and capturing the essence of the piece. It was a great way to end this excursion. A video of the performance can be seen here:

Now that the year of 2013 is drawing to a close, it is time for me to consider what kinds of pieces I will focus on to write during the course of 2014. I’ll put out a list of the pieces that I want to do in early January (probably before the Composers’ Forum) but if you, the audience, have any suggestions or ideas or commissions that you would like me to write, please either leave a comment below or email me at Mbesi_Fred@rocketmail.com.

Merry Christmas from TroyFred Productions!

Wacky Wednesday!

Hello all! Well it’s Hump Day, and this week is moving slower than usual because this weekend I will be traveling to Toronto with the Eastern Michigan Divisional Band of the Salvation Army (Bandmaster Tom Hanton) for a weekend with the world-renowned Canadian Staff Band of the same Salvation Army (Staff Bandmaster John Lam), which will involve a concert with them and the Ontario Central East Youth Chorus (Chorus Leader Cathie Koehnen) on Saturday night and marching in the Santa Claus Parade on Sunday afternoon. It should be a great time…I’m particularly looking forward to the premiere of a new Christmas piece from fellow composer Marcus Venables.

Speaking of world premieres, I’ve heard recently that recently completed Whom Shall I Fear? will be receiving its premiere performance from the Norridge Citadel Band (Bandmaster Peggy Thomas). Those familiar with the Salvation Army brass banding history will know that Peggy is an innovator, the first woman in any staff band and has been kicking butt as the Chicago Staff Band’s principal cornet player for more than 35 years. I’ve also had the pleasure of working with her over the past three years (four if you count her Advanced Conducting course). I’ve heard good things about the piece from those I’ve shared it with, in addition to feedback to further develop my composing skills. I’m looking forward to what will be a great anniversary weekend for the Mayfair Corps.

Delegates of the North American Composers’ Forum are asked to send a few of their pieces over to Asbury (by post, which is annoying) to be read and reviewed by the forum staff. If it is the same as the last composers’ forum, the Ron Holz and the SASF Band will be holding a draft-reading seminar performing a few of the works from the instrumental compositions and one of the choirs will do the same for the choral compositions. Out of the compositions that I have, I think I’m going to bring Chronicles of Faith (soon to be recorded by the Chicago Staff Band), Whom Shall I Fear, Bieber Fever, and possibly a new one if I can finish it in time. I’m greatly looking forward to that time of fellowship between fellow music-writers all over the continental area.

That’s all for now except that lately I’ve been listening to the masterpieces of Eric Ball and it gave me the idea to write a tone poem…not ones that are like today’s tone poems, but in the style of the old days from music like Ball’s or Ray Steadman-Allen’s, etcc. It’s just an idea for now, so more on that later.

Soli Deo Gloria