Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Corey Seapy
Dr. Corey Seapy has always been drawn to sound and he's loved music for as long as he could remember. Seapy has brought his musical passion and talents to Millikin University's School of Music as the new director of bands – a position he began in August 2019.
A dynamic conductor and educator who has spent the last decade maximizing the artistic potential of a wide variety of ensembles, Seapy is leading the Millikin University Symphonic Wind Ensemble succeeding the legendary Dr. Gary Shaw who retired in July 2019 after 37 years at Millikin.
Growing up overseas, Seapy started playing music on piano, clarinet and saxophone all before high school, and stuck with clarinet and saxophone up until becoming a conductor.
"Music is organized sound in any genre – it's been appealing to my ears. It moves your heart, it moves your brain and it moves your feet," Seapy said.
Seapy says the best part about being a conductor is the interpersonal aspect. "We are silent in performance, so our instrument is made up of a variety of people who are each unique parts of it and bring their own strengths, passions and sounds to the wind ensemble," he said. "It's that interpersonal aspect and exchange of human kind that made me fall in love with conducting as oppose to playing."
Figuratively, whichever musical "hat" Seapy is wearing, whether as a teacher, conductor or a musician, his goal is always to compel the people he's with to love music more.
"That's where it starts and ends for me. I want to share that passion for the art form, whether that's with my students or with the audience," he said. "For the wind ensemble, it's a vehicle for music – not just a band. Hopefully through rehearsals and performances, students are loving music more, growing as musicians and improving their skill set."
Seapy will lead the Symphonic Wind Ensemble for its first concert of the year on Sunday, Oct. 13 at 4 p.m. at Kirkland Fine Arts Center. The event will celebrate the passing of the conductor's baton as well as a literal change of the season.
One of the things that makes the Millikin Symphonic Wind Ensemble unique is the opportunity for the group to do some "off the wall things" as Seapy notes.
"I'm a big fan of collaboration with other art forms, and anytime we can work with another department, that's enriching for us as students and it's really enriching for the audience," he said.
The first concert of the year will be more traditional, but for the ensemble's second concert on Wednesday, Nov. 20, the group will perform alongside Millikin dancers under the choreography of students and faculty.
"We're always balancing the past and the great repertoire as well as the present and the great music that is being written now," Seapy said. "This spring, we will perform the world premiere of a piece that is currently being written. That will be an exciting collaboration with a composer."
Seapy has been amazed with the musical and academic environment at Millikin – an environment that's been very welcoming to him, beginning with Gary Shaw.
"I could not imagine feeling more welcomed and that starts with Gary (Shaw). The faculty and the administrators have been willing to trust me to do the best that I can and to get into a routine of expecting excellence," he said. "The spirit and support for the arts that extends campus-wide, Decatur-wide and regionally, is palpable to a newcomer. I'm honored to be playing a role within that artistic community."
Seapy completed his Doctor of Musical Arts at the University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC) Conservatory of Music and Dance. Seapy holds a Master of Music in Conducting from Ithaca College – New York and a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Gordon College.
Prior to living in Kansas City, Seapy conducted and taught in Massachusetts, where he served as music director of the Charles River Wind Ensemble, an auditioned adult group in Metro-Boston, and as director of bands at Ipswich High School. His positions include orchestra director at Ipswich High School, conducting fellow with the Senior Massachusetts Youth Wind Ensemble at New England Conservatory, assistant conductor of the Gordon College Wind Ensemble, conductor of the Northeast Massachusetts Youth Wind Ensemble and director of bands at Georgetown High School.
Seapy's recent awards include an Honorable Mention from the American Prize in Conducting (College/University Division) and a Finalist designation from the American Prize in Band/Wind Ensemble Performance (Community Division).