Deke Sharon Visits Midland University

Deke Sharon Visits Midland University

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Deke Sharon is on a mission to improve the world through singing. Kicking off the first A Cappella Day of Midland University’s Ninth Annual Festival of the Arts, the musical director and arranger of “Pitch Perfect” shared his message on Saturday, Feb. 17.

“I want everybody to know that singing is powerful, that it’s fun, and that it’s something you should do through your entire life,” Sharon said moments before leading Midland’s a cappella choirs and students from three Nebraska high schools.

“For me, my life’s work is to spread harmony through harmony,” Sharon said. “I truly believe that our nation, and, in a lot of ways, our world is broken. People feel alone; they feel isolated. There are these deep divisions in our country that are getting deeper. I feel like I have the fix. I feel like I have this tool - this incredible thing that people did throughout human history and from prehistoric times, and that is singing together.”

A Cappella Day was designed to bring students together to compete in a celebration of song. Sharon led a group of three judges who provided feedback and rated five groups from Brownell-Talbot School in Omaha, Lincoln Pius X High School, and Columbus High School. He also held a public workshop that provided his insights into contemporary a cappella music.

Sotto Voce from Lincoln Pius X earned top honors for the day, followed by Neptune’s Angels from Columbus, New World Singers from Columbus, Baker’s Dozen from Columbus and Pirate Radio from Brownell-Talbot.

Midland honored one performer from each group, awarding that student with a scholarship worth $15,000 per year. Scholarship winners were Reagan Gausman, Ryan Sims and Zach Benne from Columbus, Surya Buddharaju from Brownell-Talbot, and Abby Nelson from Lincoln Pius X (pictured respectively below).

[Reagan Gausman, Ryan Sims and Zach Benne from Columbus, Surya Buddharaju from Brownell-Talbot, and Abby Nelson from Lincoln Pius X]

A unique quality of Midland University’s performing arts scholarships is that recipients of these scholarships are encouraged to participate in the university’s more than 250 clubs and organizations, like performing arts, while pursuing any of their nearly 30 majors and programs academic passions. 

Sharon sees the opportunity to participate in the performing arts as a way to build critical life skills.

“When you’re really creating great art – in any of the performing arts – you’re working on different aspects of your life,” Sharon said. “You can do math alone. You can create science alone in the lab. With the performing arts, you’re doing something collaboratively. You’re understanding your own and other people’s emotions. You’re learning how to listen. You’re learning how the sum of the parts is bigger than any one individual. These are lessons and messages that are so impactful on anyone’s education and what they go on to do with their life.”

Discussion is already underway for next year’s A Cappella Day at the Festival of the Arts, and Sharon would like to be included.

“This is a great program. It’s a great school,” Sharon said. “I think this wonderful event is going to grow and grow to where they won’t even know what to do with it.”

Sharon’s visit was made possible with the support of the Nebraska Arts Council and the Nebraska Cultural Endowment.

Through events like Festival of the Arts, more than 250 Midland University students are able to showcase their talents, enhance their college experience, and earn scholarships. Midland’s student-centric Performing Arts program provides students from all academic programs opportunities to grow, learn, collaborate, and live out their passions. Learn more about Midland's Performing Arts program at