Dr. Dave Farewell Show a Fitting, Celebratory Concert of Original Music

A special performance honors Dr. David Burdick’s 34 years of service at Millikin

Perkinson School of Music

DECATUR, Ill. -- The Millikin School of Music announces a special Dr. Dave Farewell Show on Sunday, May 7, between 5:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. in the Oberhelman Leadership Center in the University Commons. The concert will feature performances by the Millikin Songwriter's Band and solo artists from the Millikin Songwriter's Guild (a student organization for which he is the advisor), as well as Dr. David “Dave” Burdick himself.

David Burdick
Millikin's Dr. David Burdick is retiring after 34 years of service. 

After 34 years of service at Millikin University — the last twenty-something years as the Chair of the Music Industry Studies department — Dr. David “Dave” Burdick is retiring after spring commencement in May. Of the many curricular changes he ushered into the Commercial Music major, the one he is most proud of is the songwriting program: “Can you imagine the terror of sitting in front of your peers on the second day of songwriting class and performing your first song — with no accompaniment! — just tapping on the countertop of the recording studio and singing?”

The courage required to perform such a feat immediately becomes a bonding experience in the classroom. Says Burdick, “Once a student has opened up and shared their true thoughts and feelings in song form with others and received encouragement and reassurance from the other students in class, well, that train is now rolling down the tracks and the momentum that follows is kind of cosmic.” Adding, “once that initial trepidation has been overcome, now we’ve really got something to talk about: your art.”

Burdick earned his Doctorate in Composition from the University of Texas at Austin, but he began writing songs long before he hit academia. In fact, he wrote his first songs after learning three chords on the guitar in the 5th grade — and hasn’t stopped writing since: “I always believed I had something to say, but importantly, I wanted to say it through my own music.”

Currently in “a new Renaissance” in his songwriting, Burdick credits his students for inspiring him: “Every day I get to sit there in class and listen to students give artistic voice to the things that matter most to them; their fears and frustrations, their outlook on what they see around them, their joy and thankfulness for the beautiful things in their lives, their pain and the tragedies that have befallen them. It’s downright humbling and uplifting at the same time.”

Most importantly, he says, the students have a burning desire to use their talent and their developing songcraft skills to reach out and touch the lives of others.

“I look back throughout my own life – the sad times, the happy times – and there was always a song there and it made me feel like I wasn’t alone. I knew there was at least one other person who understood: the songwriter.”

In that spirit, Dr. Dave has staged the final event of his career at Millikin. The Dr. Dave Farewell Show will be an evening of original songs featuring his own music, as well as that of the Millikin Songwriter’s Band and members of the Millikin Songwriter’s Guild. The Songwriter’s Band is a self-directed student ensemble of players and songwriters.

“I’m proud to say that at this point, they don’t actually need me. They are perfectly prepared and capable of giving voice to their own music, which is why they all came here in the first place.”

The Millikin Songwriter’s Guild, for which Dr. Dave is the advisor, is a student organization dedicated to spreading the gospel of songcraft and supporting songwriting through meetings, workshops, and events. Many of the participating students aren’t even music majors.

“Believe me,” he says, “it’s not lost on me how much time in our program we spend examining the music of people who never went to school for music.” But learning how to refine a song to create maximum impact, with the possibility of commercial success, is a different skill entirely — and studying songwriting — formally or informally — is the only way to do it. “Right there,” he says, “is the raisons d’être for the songwriting curriculum.”

The Dr. Dave Farewell Show is free and open to the public. Former students, community members, faculty, staff and music enthusiasts are invited to attend.

Dr. Dave Farewell Show
Sunday, May 7, 5:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. (ish)
Oberhelman Leadership Center in the University Commons

5 p.m. | Songwriter’s Guild
6 p.m. | Songwriter’s Band
7 p.m. | Dr. Dave Farewell Show
8 p.m. | Reception with refreshments and photo backdrop

For further information, please contact LJ Pemberton, Marketing and Patron Relations Manager at Kirkland Fine Arts Center at 217.424.3931 or lpemberton@millikin.edu.