PAC Address - August 2016

Brothers,

I would like to introduce myself, I am Cameron Thomas, your current Province Alumni Coordinator. I was initiated into the Epsilon Kappa chapter at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale in Fall of 2010. While I was in Carbondale I majored in mathematics and accounting. I ended up with a master’s degree in accounting and by the end of this year I will be a CPA in St. Louis. All of that said, my time as an alumni has been brief, and not very stereotypical. I have only been out of college since May 2015 and I have served as CPR and as PAC for most of that time. I am still in contact with the chapters several times a semester, and I feel much closer to the chapter experience than the “alumni experience.” From what I have seen, there really is no prototype alumni experience, and as PAC it is my responsibility to help engage and stay in contact with Sinfonia’s alumni.

So I would like to ask you all, as a collective, what do you want out of the Sinfonian alumni experience?  I doubt any of you want to go to weekly business meetings, but what are you looking for?  One thing that I know some of you may be interested in is a nationwide initiative to try to do a Mills Music Mission and sing in hospitals and nursing homes all on the same day around Christmas. Please let me know what you would like more of and I will do my best to accommodate.

Yours in Phi,

Cameron Thomas

PAC 5

Province 5 Workshop 2016 - Come, Make Music With Us

Brothers,

As the new year gets into full swing, we look forward to not only activities on college campuses but regionally and nationally. We will have more details about upcoming Fireside Conferences and Leadership Institute soon, but this post concerns the annual Province 5 Workshop, and how brothers of all ages and stations will have opportunities to connect with the Fraternity and participate in our most cherished traditions.

The annual Province Workshop, which will be held at the University of Evansville from February 19-21, gives the six chapters of our province the chance to come together to receive training, updates from Province leadership and the National Fraternity, and build bonds and relationships with their brothers across the states. All brothers are welcome to participate in the workshops, meet Province and National leaderships, and help elect the next province leadership team.

This year, we are excited to feature a chance for all attendees to come together and participate in one of our most sacred and inspiring traditions: the Mills Music Mission.

The Mills Music Mission is one of the biggest differentiating factors between us and every other fraternal society: going into places where music is needed and providing it with no expectation or desire for reward in order to make that place better for everyone.

We will be hosting a Mills Music Mission as part of workshop, and all alumni brothers are invited to attend. We will be meeting at Wheeler Concert Hall on the campus of the University of Evansville at 11 a.m. to briefly go over the pieces we will be performing - fraternal songs, songs from the Mills Music Mission, and a brief piece for men's chorus by John Rutter. After rehearsal, we will break for lunch before meeting at the Evansville Protestant Home for the MMM. 

If you can not stay for the entire workshop, I would encourage all brothers who are able to come and share this experience with brothers of all generations. We are looking forward greatly to our time together, and hope you are able to come, make music with us!

Fraternally yours, in Phi, Mu, and Alpha

Ben Luttrull

Sing as One - CPR Convocation 2015

Arthur Scoleri ,'12 Epsilon Kappa (Southern Illinois University - Carbondale), Collegiate Province Representative for Province 5, recently attended the annual CPR Convocation at Lyrecrest. Below are his remarks on the experience.

In summarizing CPR Convocation for you, I could describe countless hours of risk management presentations, lengthy Q+As, and the passage of what could have been a four-day business meeting. Despite inevitable differences in opinion and brief conflicts of interest, CPR convocation was not a business meeting. It was far more than that.

There have been instances in the past three years in which Sinfonia has made its existence and purpose blindingly clear to me. Often, these appearances have been little more than passing glances. CPR convocation, on the other hand, was an uninterrupted four days of fellowship shared with fifty-two of our brothers. Though we come from different places and share incredibly different backgrounds and opinions, it is impossible to feel alone in the presence of a group like the CPR Council. As each of us walked into Lyrecrest that week, we each felt an incomparable sense of homecoming and camaraderie that transcended petty logistics. The stress of the past semester and recent holidays dissolved into the background, and I found myself engaged in a lighthearted togetherness that earlier months had been lacking. I was healed and full of something more powerful than nostalgia- the boundless love of our brotherhood.

CPR convocation did not change my life. But getting to know those fifty-two men and members of our National Executive Committee has led to a personal desire to live differently- as a resource. In this New Year, seek to cultivate Sinfonia in your life. Foster openness and concord, and seek new solutions to domestic issues at the provincial level. Look and listen so that those who are typically silent might speak. Challenge yourselves to seek new mediums in which to spread inspiration, and turn your gaze outward to brothers across province and geographic boundaries. Step outside of your comfort zone and set goals that require extensive planning and collaboration for proper execution. It may sound cliché to say that a life truly lived as a Sinfonian is not an easy one. But it is far from a dull or solitary one.

As your brother, I would ask you to find new ways to live as a Sinfonian among other Sinfonians. This fraternity requires that you employ your entire self, both good and bad, in service of our object. Our brotherhood creates the circumstances under which we have the power to transcend even the parts of ourselves that we deeply despise and turn them into resources for the empowerment of others. Sinfonia removes divisions and disabilities among men that ought to be strangers and gives them the opportunity to sing as one- not only for the making of a better, more whole man, but also for the uplift of the human race to which we all belong. 

Peace on Earth, Good Will To Men

Brothers,

As we enter our holiday season and reflect on giving and on our own family traditions, I want to take a brief moment and share with you this reflection:

We honor the memory of our Founder and his passion for bettering the world through music with our Mills Music Mission. Each year, thousands of brothers from hundreds of chapters go into the community to bring a message of hope and a song of good cheer to those who need it the most. We do this because, more than any money we could raise, we see the power of music impact lives and lift spirits.

Christmas music has a particular way of misting people's eyes. I participated in our community's Holiday Pops for the first time this past weekend, and although the work I put in as a chorus member had jaded me to the pieces we were singing, feeling that sense of communal song was hard to describe. We hold these tunes as sacred, even if we treat the season less sacredly each year. 

As we dive into these songs, embrace the power they hold, and the feelings of joy, warmth, and celebration they elicit in us. Let there be nothing but the truth in our caroling this year. 

Brothers, on behalf of myself, the P5 Leadership Team, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Holidays to you, your families, and your loved ones.

Honoring a Legacy, Championing the Object

Many provinces have traveling trophies - an object of some value, often accompanied with many layers of inside joke, that is passed around chapters within the Province as a way to build relationships between the chapters and encourage travel across the province.

Province 5 has a similar trophy, the Platypus, that I'm not entirely sure where it's located. While getting the Platypus is still an object of several inter-chapter trips, there was an expressed need for the Province to have a big award that rewarded chapters for achievement, not just for participation. 

Thus, in 2014, the Province inaugurated the T. Jervis Underwood Cup.

Dr. T Jervis Underwood, with his wife Carmen, at the 2015 National Convention in New Orleans

Dr. T Jervis Underwood, with his wife Carmen, at the 2015 National Convention in New Orleans

The Underwood Cup is named after former Governor of Province 5, National President, and 2009 Robert J. Rodgers Lifetime Service Award Recipient Dr. T. Jervis Underwood. Dr. Underwood's contributions to both our province and national Fraternity would fill volumes, and include the faculty advising of Epsilon Kappa and the chartering of Iota Psi. He was active as a flute professor and university administrator, on top of being an outstanding performer (The piccolo solo in The Sinfonians by Bro. Clifton Williams was written with Dr. Underwood in mind as the performer).

The Underwood Cup, then, seeks to honor its namesake by honoring the Province 5 Chapter that does the most outside of itself to better music in the community around it. Chapters submit records of fundraising, community service, pro bono private lessons and other contributions to public music education in their hometowns. As the year goes on, 

Many of our chapters do events with these ends in mind: Epsilon Upsilon's UE Idol, Beta Theta's April Fools Recitals, Xi Tau's bowling fundraisers, on top of the two Jazz Festivals hosted by Iota Psi and Epsilon Kappa and the fundraising efforts of Xi Upsilon. The Cup seeks to recognize and encourage more of these events, and also to make a record of the efforts of the chapters as they live the Object.

The Cup, in it's inaugural award, resides (poetically enough) with Iota Psi. Updates to the points standings will be posted at the Cup's page on this site here. If you would like more information on the Underwood Cup, please contact me at pg5@singonia.org.

Long Live Sinfonia!

Finding the Why - Province Convocation 2015

This past weekend, the officers of Province 5 gathered at Lyrecrest for our annual Province Convocation. By all accounts, it was the best one yet:

  • All six chapters had multiple brothers present, including all six chapter presidents
  • We awarded Brother Yusef Carr '10 Xi Upsilon (Eastern Illinois University) with his Challenge Coin for his service in the Army National Guard
  • President Mark Lichtenberg took questions and addressed the state of the fraternity and his vision for the upcoming triennium
  • Officers received logistical training, and we received a thorough breakdown on reporting from Brother Eric Smith, Fraternity Services Coordinator

The most poignant activity, for me, was led by our Assistant Director of Programs, Brother Brandon Smith. He led a group discussion on a question that, when answered properly and honestly, has incredible consqeuences:

Why Sinfonia?

It's a question I ask myself regularly, and a question each of us is wise to consider regardless of our place. Why do I do what I do? Why do I put so much effort into not just this fraternity, but music?

Each of us must answer this question individually, and our answers are as unique as we are. However, they all are variations on a common theme - a theme of Sinfonia. This fraternity means so much to us because of what it stands for, and what it demands of us as members. 

The brothers present, at least as much as they said aloud, left recharged and reinvigorated for the year ahead, in part because of their time dwelling and discussing the reasons why we do what we do. I hope that, going forward, you are able to take time to do the same. 

Fraternally,

Ben Luttrull

A New Year, A New Triennium

Brothers,

I hope this message finds you well!

After three years of growth, and a phenomenal Convention in New Orleans, we are ready for a new Triennium. Looking back, I'm humbled by the opportunities and people I have been able to meet as governor, and I'm excited to continue to meet and work with more of you in my travels and efforts.

One of the new things this triennium will feature is more messages like this one. I hope to monthly have a blog where I can share updates from our six chapters, announce changes and programs from the National Fraternity, and make myself more open to as many brothers throughout the Province as possible. To that end, these blogs will be distributed via email in a new take on a province newsletter. Alongside our province leadership team, we will be doing more than ever to share information not just with active collegiates, but with the hundreds of alumni in southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Southeast Missouri.

The brothers of Beta Theta performing at the 2015 Province 5 Workshop

Organizationally, Phi Mu Alpha is in a good place. We are taking necessary steps to ensure our structural health, moving forward with improved and reinvigorated communications efforts, and growing at a faster rate than at any point in our history. By number of chapters, we are the third largest social fraternity in the country. With new structural efforts such as the GINsystem platform and online chapter and probationary member reporting, we are building a house that will stand strong through time and technology.

Idealistically, we stay in tune with the mission of our Founders. As men of music and men of the highest type, our brothers are making our world a more livable place. In the semester ahead, I am eager to share with you information about Mills Music Missions, rituals, American Music Recitals, and other opportunities for brothers of all ages to come together to Sing As One and advance music in America.

The power of music, be it performance, education, advocation or appreciation, can enrich and change the lives and worlds we interact with. Anything I can do in my position to help connect you with brothers and opportunities to revel in and share that power, I want to do. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me through email - pg5@sinfonia.org - with your messages, ideas, concerns, and needs. I am here to serve, and can connect you with the people, resources, and opportunities to help you get everything you want out of our Fraternity.

Brothers, I am excited for our future, and I hope that this is the start of a new relationship between you and Phi Mu Alpha.

We are Sinfonia!

"I've never heard my Godfather sing until now."

That was my thought last Tuesday night after sitting through what was one of the most musically gratifying things I've been to in my entire life, which ended up being the set up for one of the most powerful events I've ever been to as a member of Phi Mu Alpha.

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Having attended conventions, convocations, and conferences since 2007, I'd certainly heard Brian Stratton sing before. But not like this.

At the recital, which was a gathering of the faculty for a music preconference that had never been attempted before, Godfather stood up and sang a spiritual arranged by Moses Hogan. What happened next will stay with me for I think as long as I live - a song so powerful, moving, and emotional that no one dared breathe, let alone applaud, after it was over. The fact that he followed up with an aria from Strauss was near icing on the cake.

Over the past week, I was exposed to a side of the brothers I've come to know and love so closely I had never experienced before: the side of them that makes music at a high level. Men who I knew had the talent and passion to produce such powerful feelings, but had never experienced firsthand, proceeded to change the way I feel not only about them as individuals, but as a fraternity at whole.

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After the concert, the rest of the week was devoted towards building up man in this fraternity as leaders and brothers. Sessions were had, discussions were had, concert forgiven, and information was shared.  You'll have to read someone else's recap of the event in order to go in depth as to what was at each session, because that isn't what I'll remember. What I will remember it is the deep connection I made with brothers from across the country, even those I had known for years before, through the power of music.

I will remember staying up way too early in the morning having conversations with brothers about things ranging from classical music, to hip-hop, to everything in between. I will remember experiencing music so invigorating that I just physically could not sleep. I'll remember the connections I made with brothers through music and with music. 

This event won't go down in my memory books for any restaurant we ate at, any speaker we went to (though all of them were fantastic), or any presentation we attended. It will be marked by the conversations I had, the music I experienced, and the bonds that were forged with brothers both new and old. 

When Brian sang, he shared with us a part of his soul that I had never seen before. When Nothin' Fancy performed, a joy filled the room that could not have been passed around just by being in attendance. When Rolland Shaw taught us how to sing, we learned more than we could've done in entire semesters. Music was the vehicle that allowed them all to express things that could not possibly have been communicated with words alone.  

To those who I shared this experience with, thank you from the bottom of my heart. To those that helped coordinate this wonderful event, thank you from the bottom of my heart. To those of you who taught me more than I ever expected to learn, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Brothers, don't be afraid of the power of music. It may be the only thing that allows you to communicate what you truly want to with those who you really care about.  

Agents of Change - Workshop Postscript 2014

Brothers - 

It's been over 24 hours since workshop officially closed, and yet here I am still quivering in excitement and anticipation. It's a kind of delirium that always hurts when reentering the world after an exalted fraternal experience. It hasn't gotten any easier for me to leave province and national events; at times, it seems like it gets harder the more I grow and experience as a Sinfonian. That is a true testament to our brotherhood, and to the individuals that comprise it. 

I look around me and I see a world that is crying out for the power of music. Whether it is when watching the news, going to work, meeting with people, or even visiting the cities and schools we call home, we are surrounded by discord, depression, anger, and conflict. These things are solvable, at least in part, through the power of music and the changes that can happen when one when exposed to the opportunity to perform, experience, and appreciate the kind of music that we have first-hand experience seeing change a person's life.

We must be agents of change, brothers. I firmly believe there has never been a time in our modern history where we are more equipped to achieve our Object - not only do we possess the tools necessary, but we also, more than ever before, are in tune with the dreams, visions, and inspirations that give us the passion and motivation to use those tools to their sublime heights. We have the ability, all of us, to make this world better for each of its inhabitants. 

This is why I've been so anxious about this particular workshop, and why I am still anxious and excited as it has passed - I see, in you, the potential to achieve all of this and more. Through initiatives like the Underwood Cup and the Lichtenberg Scholarship, I hope that I emphasize just how much this means to me, and also how much I am willing to contribute to empower you to accomplish this vision. Actions will always speak louder than even the most eloquent words, and I am ready for actions to start.

Workshop Housekeeping

  • Congratulations to Arthur Scoleri, the inaugural recipient of the Mark R. Lichtenberg Province Leadership Scholarship!
  • Additional congratulations to Cameron Thomas, JR Davis, and Brock Trader - the new CPR-elect, ACPR-elect, and Province Webmaster for Province 5! I look forward to working with each of you, and am excited to see you grow into your new roles as the province keeps growing and doing more.
  • Written information on both the Underwood Cup and the Lichtenberg Scholarship will be coming to the website soon. I've had several of you come to me asking for clarification, and I will be providing it as soon as I format it properly.
  • Don't forget that Province Dues are now due on March 15. As you can see, we are going to be doing a lot more with our resources, so it's important that we get everything in on time.
  • Citations. Do them. The end.

Finally, some thank you notes

  • To Dakota Morgan and the brothers of Xi Tau: Thank you for all of the hard work you put in towards securing facilities, and for opening up your beautiful theatre to us. Thanks to your efforts, we had everything we needed for the weekend to happen. 
  • To Ben Kosberg: the amount of sacrifice and hard work you have given to this fraternity is staggering. We would not be where we are today without you, and Saturday's ceremony could not have happened without you. I am so grateful to be able to work with someone so trustworthy and willing to go all the way to accomplish something.
  • To the alumni in attendance: it was an honor to meet all of you, and I regret not being able to shake each of your hands. We stand here in part because you paved the road for us, and it was truly an honor to recognize all of you for your well-deserved honors.
  • To Daniel and Andrew: It has been a pleasure seeing both of you grow into your respective positions, and you both make me extremely proud to represent and serve this province. Special thanks to Andrew for his inspirational presentation on Friday night. 
  • To Ed Klint: I always learn something new every time I hear you speak, and I'm always sure to soak it up each time. This time was no exception, but it was extra special to welcome you back to Province Five. Thank you for your countless contributions to our brotherhood.
  • Finally, to all of you: I am so grateful to serve you all. It is one of the things I hold dearest in my life, and each of you inspire me to push myself to go farther and further every single day.

I am so excited for the future, brothers, and workshop only took that excitement to new and unfelt levels. I plan on doing everything I can to empower you to change the world, brothers. On and ever upward, forward never backward!

Sincerely,

In Phi, Mu, and Alpha, 

Ben

 

Workshop 2014

...It's kept me up at night, invaded all my thinking about our fraternity, and prompted me to reevaluate almost everything I do. It hasn't exactly been fun, but it's been worthwhile. It involves a lot of deep thinking, conversation, and action on my part.

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Welcome

Brothers -  

To start, I would like to welcome you all to the renovated Province 5 website. Our webmaster, Roberto, and I are working to build this site into a one-stop resource for both the brothers of the province and those seeking to learn more about our province and the individual chapters that it consists of. As the school year progresses, more and more content will do up on this site that will make it even more useful and helpful.  

I want you all to know that I am proud of the hard work you all have accomplished in the past year and the hard work you plan on accomplishing in the year ahead. I eagerly anticipate the wonderful things our province will accomplish!

As things arise, I will use this space to communicate to you, as well as share any pertinent thoughts on the Fraternity. For now, I ask that you start planning to bring three of your brothers with you to Workshop on February 21-22nd at SIUE. We are working hard to make this upcoming Workshop the best and most rewarding event in Province 5 history, and you will not want to miss it!

Take care, brothers, and Long Live Sinfonia! 

In Phi Mu and Alpha,  

Ben