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

 

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(500) Days of Summer

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Sorry for the lack of posts, I have been quite the busy bee over the course of the last few months. I have just returned from an incredible ministry opportunity: working at the Salvation Army’s Wonderland Camp & Conference Center up in Salem, Wisconsin. This was my third summer up at Camp Wonderland and it was a great one! I cannot say it was a perfect summer, however. There were hangups, there were mishaps, there were frustrations. However, I believe there is no such thing as a perfect summer…those things are supposed to happen. It’s how we react to those situations that matter. We were able to minister to over 1,000 children this summer and if we were able to win at least one of them to Christ, then the drama we encountered was worth it.  God was definitely glorified.

In terms of TroyFred Productions news, you will know that I recently announced the production of a new film for the Salvation Army’s International Congress Film Festival. The filming for this movie took place at Camp Wonderland during the off-days when we didn’t have any campers or responsibilities to attend to. I must say, for most of these staff members who were involved in the movie who have little to no acting experience, they have done a marvelous job and I am indebted to them for their hard work and sacrifice to help me with this project. This is the biggest project that TroyFred Productions has put on to date, and it’s not over yet. Now that filming is done, it’s time to compose the score to the movie and for post-production, which David Minter from the SA Central Territory’s Visual Communications bureau has graciously offered his support. Hopefully this can all be finished by April 30, 2015, which is the deadline for the Film Festival. The film’s title is More than Conquerors, starring Caleb Woodard and Kate Lundy. I am very excited to see the final product.

The one sacrifice that comes with the creation of More than Conquerors is that my regular brass band compositions will have to take a backseat for a while. That being said, that in no way means I don’t have a few new pieces in the works! For example, a special arrangement of “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” is in the works for the Sound of Africa band to perform in October. In addition to that, a new piece along the lines of Whom Shall I Fear is in the planning stages…but more on that later!

In the next few days, I will be making the transition to Asbury University, where I will be completing my Journalism studies. While I’m there, I will be working with Professor Nathan Miller, AU’s new music professor after the retirement of Dr. Ron Holz, and the SASF music groups and will hopefully have some new pieces written/played for/by them. Big things are coming, friends! Until next time!

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…

Space Pilot 2014

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In case anyone doesn’t get the reference in either that or the title, it’s a play on the first episode of “Futurama,” which I believe in some ways surpasses “The Simpsons.”

Anyways we’re about to end 2013…and it was a fantastic year! A number of new pieces were written/premiered, such as the following:

Unity Series Overture – Soldiers of Christ
General Series Suite – Chronicles of Faith
Triumph Series Selection – Bieber Fever!
American Band Journal Selection – MMC’s Got Talent 2013
Cornet Trio – By the Dawn’s Early Light
General Series Intrada – Trash Cannes Festival Fanfare
General Series Overture – Whom Shall I Fear

It has definitely been a productive year for TroyFred Productions, including my four-week bando excursion all over the Central Territory, the Royal Oak Citadel Corps’ 90th Anniversary weekend, the launch of the TFP website, and much more!

I’ve alluded to a number of projects that I will seek to be writing throughout the course of the year. Here is the starting list of what I would like to complete:

  • General Series Festival March for the Eastern Michigan Divisional Band of the Salvation Army (Bandmaster Tom Hanton)
  • Unity Series Song Arrangement for the West End Community Church Band of the Salvation Army (Bandmaster Jerome Astwood)
  • American Band Journal-Scored Meditative Arrangement on Matt Redman’s “10,000 Reasons/Bless the Lord”
  • Thematic Sequel to Previous Work “How Great is our God
  • Euphonium Solo for Brian Rowland of the Royal Oak Citadel Band of the Salvation Army
  • Triumph Series Arrangement of “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High
  • General Series Arrangement of “O Boundless Salvation”

 

That’s just the start of what I want to accomplish this year. I also will leave way for any spontaneous inspired writing that may occur. One thing I really want to do is introduce more contemporary worship songs into the brass band medium to further unite the two genres. I think that would be a cool thing to do! If you have any requests for arrangements or whatever, you know how to reach me!

…and if you don’t know how to reach me, leave a comment here on this space or just email me at Mbesi_Fred@rocketmail.com

Have a blessed New Year, everyone!

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!

Dearborn Heights Citadel Thanksgiving Concert

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Sorry for the delay, life caught up to me for a bit. If you thought the bando fun was done with the Flint Citadel concert, you were sadly mistaken! Last night I was privileged to attend the Dearborn Heights Citadel Thanksgiving concert. I think I’ve been to all of them since 2008, so this would be my sixth DHC concert. I enjoy them all! The chapel was packed and then the band came onto the stage followed by their Bandmaster, Divisional Music Director Tom Hanton.

The band opened with “Hallelujah!” This festival prelude, based on the tune “Falcon Street,” was written by James Curnow for the Chicago Staff Band’s centenary, and the DHC band did it justice. They played exceptionally well, capturing the lively and jaunty style of the work. I was immediately drawn to the back-row cornets near the piece’s conclusion, who had some nice flourishes.

Bandmaster Hanton welcomed the audience to the concert and introduced the special guest of the evening: Brett Tolcher, principal trombonist of the Chicago Staff Band. Before we heard from Brett, however, we heard from his brother. The band’s principal cornet, Alan Tolcher, brought to us a solo entitled “When I Remember” from the pen of David Catherwood. For those of you in attendance at the DHC concert last year, you will remember Alan tackling the Cornet solo “Blessings,” also by David Catherwood. Just as last year, Alan demonstrated great skill and masterful technique, the band doing a great job of staying in the background and letting him shine. The band was showcased next, performing “Are You Joyful” by Dudley Bright, principal trombonist of the London Symphony Orchestra. This piece was written as an expression of joy, and the band played it as such. There were some good moments in this piece, I especially liked the John Williams-esque ending. Stuff like that always brings me joy.

We were treated to our first number from Brett: Peter Graham’s trombone solo “Fiesta!” This piece, written in a Latin American style, was perfect for Brett to showcase his highly skilled playing ability and technique. Adding to the Latin-style of the piece were ringers Bill Roberts and Collin Holman, ringers from the Royal Oak Citadel Band, who joined the band on percussion for the concert. After that great performance, Brett accompanied the Songsters (led by Heather Hanton) on trombone along with Colleen Dahl on piano in a beautiful setting of “People Need the Lord,” complete with a slideshow of pictures with the lyrics of the song. There’s so much truth in that song. Thank you, Songsters.

Following that, Brett shared a testimony about how God used his playing of a Beatles’ song (“Here Comes the Sun,” for you Beatles fanatics) to help someone, leading to the truth that God is in control of our lives and we don’t have to worry, since we are in His hands. The only thing fitting after that inspiring testimony was his elegant playing of Phil Laeger’s new arrangement of Stanley Ditmer’s “I’m in His Hands” on piano. It was a special moment for many in the audience, me especially, for that song has been instrumental in my walk with God in recent months. It is such a good reminder.

The days I cannot see have all been planned for me. His way is best, you see, I’m in His hands.

With no introduction came the next number by the band, Robert Redhead’s “Christ Hymn.” The opening bars from the horns,baritones, euphoniums, and basses were spot on, perfectly capturing the tone of sadness that the music was trying to convey. The transition into the joyous section was captured nicely by principal cornet Alan, later joined by the the brothers Dahl and young Alex Havens on Solo Cornet. With excellent rhythmic temple block playing from Bill Roberts, beautiful ensemble work from the trombones, nice Flugel Horn sound from Sarah Beavers (we need more young Flugel Horn players like her), the elegant ethereal quavers from the cornets in the middle section, and the driving bass/percussive patterns, “Christ Hymn” was definitely one of the highlights of the night. It is not an easy piece to tackle, so well done to Tom and the band for an excellent performance.

After a brief intermission, the band proved they still had a lot more to give. Their take on Martin Cordner’s “He is Exalted” was superb. Kit player Collin Holman kept the band going with his driving rock rhythm and there was some nice playing all around. Brett then returned to the solo stage and brought a beautiful trombone solo “Song to Lotta,” this time accompanied by pianist Casey Baker, who accompanied the three New York Staff Band soloists from the previous night. This gave Brett a chance to showcase his beautiful melodic playing and mastery of the trombone. It was a nice addition to the program. For me, the highlight of the second half of the program was Richard Phillips’s arrangement of “Such Love.” It began with Brett at the piano and he was soon joined by subtle entries from the horns, baritones, euphoniums, and trombones. This song has a nice melody that was passed around the band, soon entering in the cornets while Brett added his own sprinkles from the piano. It was a moving arrangement and the band demonstrated nice controlled playing and didn’t give any “personal testimonies” while playing, as it were. Nice job.

Bass trombonist and Corps officer Captain Caleb Senn came to the stage to thank both Brett and Casey for spectacular performances before bringing forth a devotional stemming from the band’s last piece, centering on God’s love. The concert ended with the band performing Bruce Broughton’s “Hillcrest” march. Being written by a composer with experience writing for film soundtracks, there were nice stylistic references to “Silverado.” The band started and finished strongly and with some energetic playing. It was a great concert. Thank you, Bandmaster Hanton and Dearborn Heights Citadel Band/Songsters on great performances!

The Cyber Home of Troy Thielke & Fred Mbesi