Home / News
and Information /
BPC professor stays busy with academic honors
Dr. Ben Caston, assistant professor of music at Brewton-Parker College, conducts during the combined choir and orchestra rehearsal of more than 600 youth participating in the GBC’s REELfest 2007 in Salem Baptist Church, McDonough. (Photo provided)
By Kelley M. Arnold
Director of News and Public Information
MOUNT VERNON – Dr. Ben Caston, assistant professor of music at Brewton-Parker College, had a very busy January.
Caston, who is the director of the college’s Baron Ringers, served as the director/choral clinician for the Georgia Baptist Convention’s 2007 Youth REELfest Jan. 19-20 in McDonough.
| More than 600 REELfest youth rehearse in Salem Baptist Church under the direction of BPC’s Dr. Ben Caston. (Photo provided)
Then, the following weekend, he presented a paper on the selected songs of Stephen Dankner at the third annual New Voice Educator’s Symposium held at the University of Indiana.
REELfest attracts about 600 high school age students who form a choir, which sings “en masse” traditional and contemporary music in a church setting, Dr. Caston said. These students filled the Salem Baptist Church (McDonough) sanctuary to capacity with physical—as well as spiritual—presence, he added.
As director of the event, he oversaw the mass rehearsals and directed the choir as they performed in a worship-style service Saturday evening. REEL is an acronym for Refocusing Energy on Exalting the Lord. The Georgia Baptist Convention says the festival “allows students to bring new levels to their spiritual growth through music.” Dr. Caston was thrilled to be a part of it.
“Since 1998, God has given me a passion for youth choirs,” he said. “It’s something God has laid on my heart. The opportunity to direct the Youth REEL festival choir was really monumental for me.”
This was Dr. Caston’s first time working with the convention’s REELfest. It was also the first time he has had an opportunity to present a paper at the prestigious University of Indiana Jacobs School of Music.
“I never dreamed I’d get the opportunity to go to Indiana University, let alone present a paper there,” Dr. Caston said of the symposium.
The New Orleans Baptist Theological grad (’05) answered a call for papers for the third annual symposium, hosted by the Indiana University Student Chapter of National Organization of Teachers of Singing (NATS). His paper was one of 15 chosen to be presented at the weekend conference Jan. 26-27. His paper, “Selected Songs of Stephen Dankner (b.1944)”, is an extension of his doctoral dissertation.
Dr. Caston met Dankner, an American contemporary composer, while both were living in New Orleans; Dr. Caston was then a doctoral student and Dankner was working at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, which boasts Harry Connick Jr. and the Marsalis brothers among its alumni. Through personal interviews with the composer and attending performances of his works by the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Dr. Caston was able to describe 10 selected songs and explore Dankner’s use of word painting, or the manipulation of musical elements to depict the meaning of a song text.
“Not a lot has been written on (his songs) before. I found a hole in the research and tried to fill it.”
“As a faculty member in the Division of Music, Dr. Caston contributes in many ways to the work of the College. However, he is active in sharing outside the college community, as well,” said Dr. Glenn Eernisse, chair of BPC’s Division of Music. “The invitation to present a paper in a prestigious setting such as the University of Indiana speaks well for his scholarship, and his involvement with the Georgia Baptist REELfest youth music event is evidence of his gifts as a conductor. We are certainly proud of Dr. Caston and his many accomplishments.”
The Liberty, Mississippi native has served in music ministry since 1994 in Southern Baptist Churches in Mississippi, Louisiana and Georgia. He was minister of worship and students at Oak Park Baptist Church of New Orleans from 1999-2005 prior to joining the BPC faculty in August 2005. Currently he leads the music at First Baptist Church of Perry. At Brewton-Parker, he teaches Survey of Music Literature, Music Appreciation, Introduction to Handbells and Applied Voice.
A lyric tenor, his recent performances include Camille Saint-Saëns’s “Christmas Oratorio” with the Hilton Head Choral Society and Orchestra, Honneger’s “King David” with the Brewton-Parker College Choral Society and Orchestra (April 2006) and Handel’s “Messiah” with the August Choral Society and Orchestra (Dec. 2005, April 2006). He is currently preparing a song recital for March 2007. A member of NATS and Georgia Baptist Convention’s Sons of Jubal and Jubal Chorus, he will travel to Russia with the Sons of Jubal mission trip in April.
He and his wife, Rebecca, live in Mount Vernon with their 19-month-old son, Clay. They are members of First Baptist Church of Vidalia.