-James Osborne, News Editor
Mississippi College’s School of Music welcomes a new conductor this semester. Visiting professor Dr. Milburn Price will temporarily hold the position of Interim Director of Choral Activities for the 2014/2015 school year. Price is standing for Professor James Meaders until a full time replacement can be found. Meaders recently moved to New York City to take a full time position working at Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) at Carnegie Hall.
Dr. Price will be directing both choirs, teaching two voice students, teaching three students in an advanced conducting class this fall, and teaching a graduate conducting course next semester.
“We are all blessed by his presence,” said Angela Willoughby, music department chair and professor. “He brings experience, vision, and sincere concern for the students and their academic progress. Even in this transitional year, we have the opportunity to continue the strong tradition of our choral department because of the expertise of Dr. Price and the full support of the music faculty. In short, I couldn’t be happier.”
Dr. Meaders has had a long relationship with the Distinguished Concerts International New York company based on a number of appearances with Mississippi choirs over the years. DCINY sponsors the Carnegie Hall concerts that have been given by the MC Singers on multiple occasions. Meaders’ move was too late in the year for a regular search to take place for a replacement. “Association with this company seems a natural step for Dr. Meaders and we do wish him the very best in this new chapter of his career,” said Willoughby.
Professor Price said his goal for the year is “not to mess things up,” with a laugh. “Mississippi College has a fine tradition in choral music,” said Price, “not only during the time of James Meaders but also before him during the leadership of Richard Joyner. Both were fine conductors and both contributed to a very nice choral program here at Mississippi College.”
Price was the Dean of the School of Performing Arts at Samford in Birmingham, Ala. from 1993 to 2006 and lived in Birmingham for 21 years with his wife Barbara. Price is retired, but he has recently served as a visiting professor at Mercer University in Macon, Ga. and Stetson University in Deland, Fla.
After retiring as Dean of the School of Performing Arts at Samford, his successor pressed upon him to stay as orchestra conductor and teach one graduate course in church music. He did this for five more years.
“This is the third year I have been visiting professor at a university,” said Price. “I was contacted this summer by a member of the search committee and they asked if I would be interested in coming to be a visiting professor. And in God’s providence it turned out to be a great opportunity. I had just finished a year being a visiting professor at Mercer University. I had promised my wife that this time I would really retire. But her mother, who is 95 years old, had experienced some decline in health lately. So the ability to live close by and watch over her has been providential,” said Price. His wife’s mother was recently placed in an assisted living facility and he and his wife are living in her home in Jackson.
Price’s father was an MC alumni and Price has traveled to Jackson many times.
“The summer before I went to college I was trying to decide between a career in religion, music, and sports journalism,” said Price. “I guess I followed my heart and my gifts to go into music. It was not until my senior year that I decided to go into church music.”
Price went to Ole Miss for his Bachelors where he graduated in 1960, spent two years in the army in southern California, and got his Masters from Baylor University. Price was actually offered a position at Mississippi College after he graduated from Ole Miss to be Student Activities Director but he declined in favor of learning from a conductor he admired at Baylor and accepted a graduate assistantship there.
Price is a tennis enthusiast, continuing to play in senior tournaments, and he has received three third place finishes in national tournaments. He and his son also played in father and son tournaments.
Price said his favorite part about his career in teaching music is the human interaction. “It has been my experience that the healthier the interpersonal relationships the better the music that can come from that,” said Price.
A committee of music faculty members has been set in place to find a full time choral director. “We have set a timeline for the year which involves advertising for the position, screening applicants, inviting prospective candidates to campus, and making the final decision,” said Willoughby. “We should know the results in the spring semester.”
“The department will seek a candidate with the required academic credentials, conducting experience, vocal teaching experience, as well as the skills to oversee the undergraduate and graduate conducting programs. In the consideration, we will search for someone who values Christian education and will fit well with our existing program, while at the same time, bring a clear vision for the future of our choral area and the department as a whole.”