Derby Chukwudi News Writer Chukwudid@berea.edu
On Friday September 9th,The Black Music Ensemble kicked off the academic school year with a welcoming and introductory retreat with old and new members at Presser Hall hosted by BME staff members and President Roelofs. BME is not just another musical ensemble, but one of the diverse groups on campus that provides a place of comfort through assorted music styles and rhythm to all members of the community.
During the retreat, BME members enjoyed dinner, then dispersed into groups to get to know each other, an exercise that was an effective icebreaker for its new members to feel welcomed and at home.
Members discussed what BME meant to them including but not limited to phrases such as a place of comfort, a support group, a place for happiness, and a free place for them to interact with another.
President of the college, Lyle Roelofs, has become an active member of the group since the beginning of the semester; the Pinnacle had an opportunity for a brief Q & A with the president.
Pinnacle: What does BME mean to you?
President Roelofs: Having the BME at Berea College means a lot to me and the First Lady. We love the music both for its high artistic quality and also because it is such a sincere expression of intense spirituality. We also love the students of the BME and Prof. Bullock and the other leaders because every year they build such a strong community that cares deeply for each member.
Pinnacle: What impact you believe the group has on the Berea community and why is it important??
President Roelofs: Many Bereans, ourselves included, do not have a background in the music and spiritual expression of the Black church, so attending the BME concerts is a wonderful addition to the experiential education offered to every member of the community. We know, too, that the internal strength of the group contributes to the success at Berea of all of the members of the ensemble.
Pinnacle: What inspired you to become actively involved in the group this semester?
President Roelofs:Well, I love church music and I love doing meaningful things with Berea students — their welcome is always so generous. Although I have been involved in vocal music throughout my life, I also saw practicing with the BME as a wonderful learning opportunity, a way I can grow both spiritually and artistically. In the future I would also like to practice with some of the other musical groups that are such a vibrant part of our community. I do not ever plan to perform with any of the groups though, which will be reassuring, I think, to the leaders of those group.