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Seven months ago, the soulful sounds of the Imperial Symphony Orchestra filled Victory Church as Hollywood movie composer Joseph DeBeasi debuted an original piece he wrote specifically for the 65,000 veterans who call Polk County home.

Now, in a follow-up event, Sinfonia: Connecting the Arts & Community, will honor the families of veterans–the strong men, women and children who often are left behind as their sons, daughters, spouses, fathers, and mothers spend time at Basic Training, on deployment overseas, in submarines, or something similar.

Once again, DeBeasi spent time in Polk County, listening to the stories of several military families, before writing A Thousand Faces, a piece dedicated to the families.

“I met with several military families. Some are new to the military, others have been military families for generations. Their stories ranged from pride and excitement to anxiety, grief, and despair,” DeBeasi told Southeastern. “When it came time for me to compose this piece, I was deeply moved by the stories, especially those of loss and isolation. I wrestled with darkness and isolation until finally writing it into the composition.”

The Southeastern University Choir sings during Sinfonia: Connecting the Arts & Community at Victory Church presented by the College of Arts and Media at Southeastern University in Lakeland, FL on Tuesday, March 20, 2018. [SCOTT WHEELER/SOUTHEASTERN]

The second Sinfonia will be held on Veterans Day, Nov. 11th  at the Polk Theatre in Lakeland.

“He’s reflected every emotion that can possibly be captured, from the joys of finishing boot camp to the ultimate sacrifice,” says Dr. Craig Collins, dean of Southeastern University’s College of Arts & Media and the driving force behind both events.

Southeastern and DeBeasi, who has composed and edited soundtracks for more than 60 films, including Sicario and The Book of Eli, are hoping Polk County and Central Florida residents will gather to honor our veterans at this event, while at the same time appreciating the debut of three original pieces of music.

In addition to honoring Central Florida veterans with A Thousand Faces, the event will pay tribute to our community leaders.

As in the spring, when SEU Athletic Director Drew Watson and state Rep. Colleen Burton were guest conductors , Seretha Tinsley and Tax Collector Joe Tedder opened their hearts and lives to DeBeasi, who wrote a piece of music for each for the November event. Tinsley and Tedder will conduct the Southeastern University Orchestra, then will share their experience with the audience.

Veterans from Central Florida representing each branch of the armed forces during “Salute to the Armed Forces” – the finale of the previous Sinfonia event. “Salute to the Armed Forces” will appear again in the upcoming Sinfonia this Sunday, November 11, 2018

They will not hear the pieces written for them until they are on stage, ready to conduct.

Tinsley says she was a bit perplexed when Collins asked her to be part of Sinfonia.

“I truly did not understand how it all worked, even though he explained it thoroughly. Yes, I was honored to be considered, but I was more so curious because I could not imagine what anything about me would sound like if put to music,” says the co-owner of Tinsley Family Concessions.  

Tinsley, who, along with her husband, George, give back to the community through a variety of efforts, said she already feels special, even though she hasn’t heard her piece, Luminescence.

“After meeting and spending an hour or so with Joseph DeBeasi I felt like my biography was about to be written,” Tinsley says. “I am still curious, still a bit anxious, but most of all amazed that I would have this opportunity.  It is somewhat surreal.

“For me, this is a once in a lifetime awesome experience.”

Tedder, who played in the band in high school, will conduct 42nd and Lakeland. The stories behind the names of each piece will be explained at the event.

“Southeastern University’s plan to honor military families through this musical expression is powerful,” Tedder says. “Having the chance to be a part of that as a guest conductor is an honor.”  

The event will begin at 2:30 p.m. at the Polk Theatre, 121 South Florida Avenue in Lakeland. Ticket prices range from $5 to $12, with $30 VIP tickets, for the Nov. 11 event. For more information, visit cam.seu.edu/sinfonia or call 863-667-5657.

SEU Choir performing at the first Sinfonia event in March 2018.

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