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Mississippi College

James Sclater Receives Award of Excellence at Mississippi College Homecoming

September 5, 2013

A magnificent composer, superb musician and extraordinary professor, James Sclater will be saluted with Mississippi College’s Award of Excellence at Homecoming this fall.

The Clintonian spent four decades as an award-winning Mississippi College professor who’s penned more than 125 musical works performed across the United States and Europe.

Getting spotlighted with the Award of Excellence at MC’s Homecoming in late October is the latest in a long list of honors coming his way.

“I’m thrilled to receive this award,” Sclater said. “It really came as a surprise because there are so many of my Mississippi College colleagues who are much more deserving of it.”

With this award, Mississippi College leaders are commending his 40 years of service as an MC music professor and his valuable role mentoring many others in the music world. He retired in 2010, but the Mobile, Alabama native continues to be a prominent composer and talented pianist in Mississippi groups including the Brick Street Trio based in Clinton.

The annual Sclater Chamber Music Series at Mississippi College is named in his honor. He was a member of the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra from 1971 to 2000, but his remarkable service as an MC educator is what really stands out.

“My 40 years at Mississippi College were very fulfilling,” he said. “I had so many students over the years who have gone out to be successful and have made substantive contributions to their profession.”

The Award of Excellence at Homecoming occurs the same week Sclater is recognized for his 70th birthday at an October 24th chamber concert on the Clinton campus. Guest harpist Elaine Barber and other musicians will perform a number of Sclater’s favorite compositions.

Colleagues applaud Dr. Sclater’s many career achievements.

“Jimmy Sclater is definitely deserving of any award Mississippi College could offer,” said Angie Willoughby, who chairs the MC Music Department. “He had a long and stellar tenure here while building and maintaining national stature as a composer.”

He maintains “strong and close relationships with so many of his students and they are fiercely devoted to him,” Willoughby said.

Former Music Department Chairman James Meaders, who directs the university’s MC Singers, first encountered Dr. Sclater in an upper-level music theory course in Fall 1985.

“It was immediately apparent to me that this man was a uniquely gifted musician and teacher. He expected excellence and demanded preparation from his students, and he fully invested in their success and learning.”

Most of his students “never fully appreciated his genius as a composer because he carried himself with such humility and went quietly about his work without drawing attention to himself,” Meaders added.

“I could not have asked for better preparation for graduate work, nor a better mentor,” said another former student, Mississippi College music professor Lewis Oswalt. It was in his upper-level theory classes that he first discovered he wanted to teach music at the college level.

“Upon my return to MC as a faculty member, he became a treasured friend and colleague who encouraged and believed in me,” Oswalt said.

Many people outside the MC Music Department are singing his praises, too.

“A remarkably talented musician, a wonderful mentor and educator and a world class composer – that is how I would describe the brilliant James Sclater,” said Ron Howard, Mississippi College’s vice president for academic affairs.

The Homecoming awards dinner is set for Friday October 25. The event will be a tribute to Sclater, Alumna of the Year Dr. Sharon Martin, Order of the Golden Arrow winners Jimmy L.  Morrison and Dr. John Weisz, Young Alumna of the Year Rebecca Sara-Nell McCarty, and others. The program begins at 6 p.m. at Anderson Hall on the Clinton campus. Tickets are $20 per person.

For more details about MC’s Homecoming October 24-26, contact Lori Bobo of the MC alumni affairs office at 601.925.3252.

Photo: Dr. James Sclater, award-winning composer, musician and retired Mississippi College professor.