Tonight (Saturday), a group of local choral students, music educators, Traverse City Area Public School (TCAPS) alumni, and community members will gather at the Lars Hockstad Auditorium to (literally) celebrate one man. “Gathering in Song” is a tribute to Tom Stokes, a longtime TCAPS faculty member and one of his two or three figures who shaped the district’s renowned music program into its current form. , hosted by Traverse City Music Boosters. .
According to Traverse City Music Boosters (a non-profit organization that supports K-12 music education throughout TCAPS through scholarships, donations, etc.), Stokes is both an achievement and a major part of music education in northern Michigan. is also one of the pioneers. Growing up in the area in the 1960s, Stokes discovered her passion for music, partly because her booster scholarship allowed her to spend a summer at her arts camp in Interlocken. I was. By the time she graduated, Stokes had been named her soloist for top high school vocals in the state at her Youth Arts Festival in Michigan.
After earning a BA in Music Education from DePauw University, Stokes returned to Traverse City and began his career with TCAPS in 1973. Thus began his 25-year tenure, where Stokes taught music at nearly every level, from special education to elementary music. , in junior high and high school choirs. In 1993, Stokes was promoted to K-12 music supervisor and oversaw the events of 18 elementary, two middle and two high school music programs. He oversaw calendars, transportation logistics, budgeting, staffing and more. . In 1994, the Michigan School of Her Vocal Music Association named Stokes “Teacher of the Year”.
According to former students and colleagues, the full list of Stokes’ contributions to local music education would be too long to fit into one article. but, ticker I can share two influences of certain imports that Stokes had.
In 1997, Stokes presided over the TCAPS music program and split the overcrowded high school, Traverse City Senior High School, into two separate schools. When Traverse City Central High and West Senior High were born, the school district underwent a major makeover, and he divided students and faculty alike into two separate pools. One staff member who chose to move to West was choral director Russ Larimer, who left Central and its choral program without a mentor. The responsibility of finding a replacement fell to Stokes.
That search led to the hiring of Jeff Cobb, who was Central’s director of choral activities from 1997 to 2006 and helped keep vocal music alive in the school. Cobb, who is now the director of the music program at his college in Northwestern Michigan, believes Stokes has given him the opportunity of a lifetime.
“It was an honor to call Tom Stokes a colleague of mine,” says Cobb. ticker“I am eternally grateful to Tom for the opportunity to teach at Traverse City Central High School. I would not have had the opportunity to work with these amazing students and amazing colleagues at TCAPS.Tom has been an inspiration to his students, a supportive colleague and a pillar of the Traverse City music community.”
One of the Stokes legacies that Cobb carried on at Central was Men of Note, an extracurricular all-male ensemble that Stokes founded in 1989 at Traverse City Senior High. A male choir – called the Westmen – at West High School. Men of Note will also be the centerpiece of tonight’s tribute concert, with a special focus on the influence Stokes has had in promoting male participation in choral and musical programs.
According to Tom Hoxey, who graduated from Traverse City high school in 1995, was one of the early members of Stokes’ Men of Note program, and is tonight’s concert host, Stokes is a destination for an entire generation of local music students. Redefining what a choir is.
“At the time, it was not easy to develop interest in singing among high school boys,” explains Hoxie. “You’re fighting sports. You’re fighting stereotypes that men don’t sing. If they sing, it’s a rock band or something. Tom doesn’t just sing about men, he’s from different backgrounds.” He was very tolerant and patient with the process of getting students involved and taking the group to a high level. If you listen to Men of Note recordings from that era, it’s college level stuff.”
After high school, Hoxie formed an ongoing friendship with Stokes, beginning in 2000 when Stokes reunited a group of old students from Men of Notes and sang together again in a group called The Northmen Singers. That group soon spun off a small a cappella ensemble, The Overtones, with Hoxsie and five other of his TCAPS music alumni still performing together. Hoxsie admits that his bond with Stokes tends to hold him in high esteem for his former teacher, but if Stokes hadn’t shown up, his TCAPS and its music program would be very different today. I affirm that it would have happened.
“Tom embraced the idea that tenor bass music should be considered. [in a high school choral program]and the fact that those ensembles still exist today is proof that he was right,” Hoxey says. It can be featured as a 46-member group of tenor and bass singers performing on stage for music educators.Thanks to him, if you look at Traverse City Central, you’ll see Men of Notes, and different people are TCAPS. and have survived as the programs have changed owners, and the fact that they still exist proves that what Tom did was of great value. He hit a home run.”
Tonight’s concert kicks off at 7pm and will feature performances by The Overtones, the Tenor Bass Choir of East and West Middle School, and the D’Guys, an ensemble of local homeschool students, as well as the current incarnations of Men of Note and Westmen. and worked together later in life as part of the Stokes Teach Program), and a joint choir featuring alumni from each ensemble. Music Boosters introduces a new scholarship named after Stokes, seeded by concert earnings. Admission is free, but Music Boosters is asking for donations to the scholarship fund. Click here for more information.