The music programs at Finlandia University have experienced a change with the arrival of the new director, Leslie Dukes. Soren Schmidt, the Finlandia University Chaplain, was the director of both the band and choir prior to the arrival of Leslie Dukes.
“I was teaching band and choir always with the understanding that eventually that would be taken off my plate since my job is full time chaplain,” said Schmidt.
When someone came along with the right degree, it was the perfect opportunity for the music program at Finlandia to experience a change. Leslie Dukes, who moved to the area when she got hired to direct the Gloria Dei Lutheran Church Choir in Hancock, was asked by Finlandia University President, Philip Johnson, to direct the Finlandia University singers and pep band, which currently have 15 and 10 members respectively.
“With a doctoral degree,” said Schmi
dt, “what she brings to the table is further education and another level to music.”
“She knows a lot about music,” said Candace Peterson, a junior at Finlandia who plays trumpet in the band, “she has a plan in what she wants to teach us, using scales is an example.”
Dukes plans to add a lot of energy and passion to the music programs here at Finlandia. “I plan on recruiting more singers and instruments,” Dukes said. “I want to raise the visibility of the music programs.”
By expanding the music programs, Dukes hopes to be able to tour and let everyone know that there is a music program here at Finlandia and anyone is welcome to join.
Leslie Dukes was originally working at Santa Rosa Junior College in Santa Rosa, California accompanying and coaching in the music department and teaching classical piano. Along with her classical piano training, Dukes has a Bachelors Degree in Piano Pedagogy from Brigham Young University, a Masters in Piano Performance from Chico University, and a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Arizona.
The pep band and choir will be featured in a spring concert near the end of the semester, and the pep band is planning to play at future sporting events.
“I’m excited that our band is growing,” Peterson said,” I’m excited to learn more about scales and music theory.”
“I think she’s great,” said Schmidt. “She’s different than myself, but that’s a good thing.”