This year marks the 20th anniversary of teaching for Edward Knight and David Herendeen.
Both are faculty members within the Bass School of Music.
Knight is a full-time professor and director of the composition program, as well as the composer in residence at OCU. Herendeen directs the opera and musical theatre programs and teaches full-time.
Knight and Herendeen both said they have witnessed positive growth in their programs over the years.
“It seemed glacial as it was developing, but even then, it still doesn’t feel like 20 years has passed by,” Herendeen said.
When Herendeen first started, “It was like a one man show.”
Herendeen said his classes from acting classes to opera workshops.
“It was a lot of hard work, but we stayed on course and developed a really effective and unique course of study,” Herendeen said.
At the time, Herendeen said musical wasn’t as respected as a form of study, and there were only 33 students in the program. Now, Herendeen said, there are more than 200 students enrolled.
“We were very cutting-edge at the beginning, very early in developing a serious course of study for musical theater,” Herendeen said. “For those reasons, both of our programs became increasingly competitive because we consistently produced multidimensional, high quality performers.”
Herendeen and Knight both the difference between 20 years was the unification and development of synergy between the arts.
“All of the success is possible because of the cooperation here,” Knight said. “I know what my vision is, but if I was at a different institution, it wouldn’t be the same.”
Knight and Herendeen both said the school is like a well-oiled machine, working efficiently and gracefully because of the interweaving of each program with another.
“The more we all do, the more people are interested in what’s going on, so it just becomes a habit,” Knight said.
One of Knight’s first goals at OCU was to develop a well-rounded program that prepared students for a wide range of career opportunities. Now, Knight believes that students in dance, opera, musical theater, percussion, composition, and other programs within the Bass School of Music
“It’s been the most amazing experience and opportunity I could imagine. I’ve talked to a lot of composers out there and they just don’t have this kind of situation,” Knight said.
“The enthusiasm, energy, and talent that I’m able to work with daily is second to none. This building is maybe the most remarkable places I’ve ever been. When the students come, there is so much energy.”
Knight and Herendeen both said the support of Dean Belcik and Dean Parker was a crucial part of the success they’ve seen in the past 20 years.
“My bosses are why I can do this. They facilitate it all, and they take care of me,” Herendeen said.
Alison Sloan, musical theater sophomore, took a class with Herendeen during her first year at OCU. Sloan said Herendeen’s level of energy and enthusiasm instantly made her feel excited to take his class.
“Some people could be scared or intimidated by him because of his intensity, but I saw him as being intense in the best way,” she said.
Sloan also said Herendeen helped her improve her confidence and validated the goals she was working towards.
Hannah Helbig, composition senior, said she gained a lot from her time with Knight.
Helbig said Knight “absolutely” had an impact on her future career as a composer.
“There’s a lot that they didn’t have to do to help me, but did anyway,” she said.
“I’ve had professors who did the bare minimum, or only did what they were expected to do, but these two professors took the time to make sure every student got as much out of their class as possible. They are both masters of their craft.”
Both professors have nothing planned in terms of celebrating the 20 years.
“The school gave me a little pin and a plaque, but other than that, no celebrations planned,” Knight said.
Looking ahead, both professors said they plan to stick around and continue to follow their passions at OCU.