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Chemistry Professor to Complete Master's in Music

One of Lubbock Christian University’s brightest chemistry professors, Dr. Byron Rogers, has been writing and arranging music for nearly forty years. Rogers was introduced to music in 7th grade band at McKenzie Junior High in 1971. In 1977 Rogers attended LCU, and by 1979, the director of LCU’s musical group Meistersingers directed Roger’s first choral composition, a setting of Psalm 46.

Now, Rogers, who has a Ph.D. in theoretical kinetics, is completing his Master of Music in Composition at Texas Tech University and is premiering his final project “This Man Receives Sinners” on March 13 at 7:30 pm in the McDonald Moody Auditorium.

“This Man Receives Sinners” is a cantata on Luke 15. Rogers began composing the cantata in April of 2013 and completed it in December. It is the longest musical work he has composed to date. The performance will involve the LCU Chamber Singers, five soloists, and seven instrumentalists.

The title of his cantata comes from the accusation made by the Pharisees and scribes against Jesus in Luke 15:2. Rogers says he has always loved the third parable Jesus tells in response, that of the Prodigal Son. The cantata involves all three parables and focuses on the theme “lost and found.”

For anyone who does not know Rogers, arranging music does not seem like a natural hobby for a chemist. Rogers, however, sees the same order in chemistry as he sees in composition of music.

“In chemistry, I want to know why something acts the way it does,” says Rogers. “In music, I want to know why the chord functions as it does. In chemistry, I look for the ‘elegant solution’ to a problem. In composing, I seek the elegant way to state the music.”

Rogers decided to pursue a master’s in music because he had the time and desire after his children left the house. “I wanted to know more good music theory and history so I could write better music. I would like to put the degree to work and teach theory and composition at LCU.”

Since returning to LCU as a chemistry professor in 1986, Rogers has arranged music for Meistersingers, Best Friends, the Master Follies band, and the Master Follies hosts and hostesses. For several years now, LCU’s choir director, Dr. Phillip Camp, has commissioned one or more of Roger’s choral settings for the Praise Choir each year.

“I cannot imagine a greater blessing for a composer than that. To have a group that actively seeks out my work is a true gift from God,” Rogers expresses.

Rogers successfully defended his Thesis in early March, and will be graduating from TTU in May. The recital is in partnership with LCU’s Communication and Fine Arts department. Admission is free to the recital on March 13 at 7:30 pm in the McDonald Moody Auditorium on the LCU campus.

Read the Avalanche Journal's article for more on Dr. Rogers' passion for both chemistry and music.