April 28, 2019 - 2:30 p.m.
WOOSTER, Ohio — After 35 years directing the Scot Marching and Symphonic Bands, Nancy Ditmer will give her last performance on Sunday, April 28, in McGaw Chapel (340 E. University St.), when The College of Wooster’s Scot Symphonic Band performs in concert at 2:30 p.m.
Wooster president Sarah Bolton will give opening remarks before the concert which will feature selections Ditmer carefully chose to perform. Jack Gallagher’s “A Psalm of Life” holds a special place in her heart as it was written in memory of Charles Craig ‘85, a trumpet student of Gallagher and a member of the band under Ditmer, who was killed in an automobile accident in 1997. Gallagher, the Olive Williams Kettering Professor of Music at Wooster who is also retiring this year, wrote the piece with trumpet and clarinet solos at the suggestion of Craig’s wife at the time of his death, a clarinetist. It was commissioned by the Kettering Fairmont High School Band Boosters where Craig was the director of bands when he died. The trumpet solos will be played by Amanda Bekeny, who was also a student of Gallagher and is now the instructor of trumpet and brass chamber music coach at Wooster.
Mark Camphouse’s “Heartland Sketches,” is another piece to be performed with special meaning to Ditmer as it was composed for and performed at the retirement celebration of The University of Iowa’s director of bands, Myron Welch, where Ditmer received her master of music degree.
The concert will open with “March from Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Carl Maria Von Weber,” by Paul Hindemith. Also on the program are Getty Huffine’s “Them Basses,” Frank Ticheli’s “Blue Shades,” Robert Russell Bennett’s “Suite of Old American Dances, Mvt. II. Schottische,” and Robert Spittal’s “Pacem – A Hymn for Peace,” as well as music from Scotland with the pipers, dancers, and drummers, and of course the concert will close with the entire company performing “Amazing Grace.”
Ditmer knows this concert is bound to be an emotional afternoon for her as retiring is a bittersweet feeling. “I will miss the students the most, but will now become their number one fan,” said Ditmer on retirement. “I hope to have time to explore other interests as well, including photography and genealogy.”
The students are going to miss her as well. Brianna Schmidt, a junior philosophy major and member of the band states, “Ms. Ditmer is an excellent mentor who cares deeply for her students and the band. With her love of music, she has always made band a positive experience. Through her kindness and understanding, she helps her students become not only better musicians, but better people.” Brendan McBride, a junior music performance major, shares that sentiment, “Ms. Ditmer is one of the most caring and passionate professors I have ever met here at Wooster. She isn’t only just a fantastic advisor, but an amazing friend as well.”
A former student and now colleague, Chester Andrews ‘85, the band announcer for the past 35 years, praises Ditmer’s time at Wooster, “her attention to detail and expertise in music education affected my musicianship and the musical lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of students. I’m honored to have learned, worked and assisted such a great music educator. Her legacy at Wooster is profound and remarkable. Wooster’s music traditions thrived under Nancy Ditmer.”
Another former student and Wooster’s current Scot Marching Band director also was influenced by Ditmer. “She was very instrumental in my development as a student, musician, and arts advocate,” said Dan Fleischaker ‘94, also a music instructor in the Wooster City Schools. “She showed me that being a music teacher was more than just working with students, it was about opening minds, and working and advocating for arts education at the local, state, and national level. I owe much of my professional success to Nancy, and am thrilled to have been a part of her story throughout her time in Wooster.”
Ditmer has enjoyed a prodigious career as a music educator and conductor at Wooster, and as a leading advocate for music education and performance at the elementary, middle, and high school levels across the country. She completed a two-year term as president of the National Association for Music Education from 2012-14. In April 2016, Ditmer was the recipient of an alumni achievement award from Capital, where she received her bachelor of music education degree, in recognition of her notable accomplishments in the profession of music education as well as her service to the university and contributions to humanity.
Ned Brooks will serve as associate conductor. He has assisted Ditmer for the past 23 years. He received a bachelor’s degree in music education from The Ohio State University and a master’s degree from Kent State University. He also serves as music director of St. James Episcopal Church in Wooster, where he coordinated a noontime concert series, which existed for 40 years.
The concert is free and open to the public as well as the reception following the concert at the First Presbyterian Church (621 College Ave.). Additional information is available by phone (330-263-2419) or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).