Papers with scribbled scales on staffs surround Sakari Dixon ’14, who is busy transferring the melodies in her head to notes on paper, composing pieces of what will someday be a great symphony.
“Personally, I love the pencil-and-paper method,” Dixon said about her creative process. “I’m not militant about it, but I feel it is the best thing for me to do especially when I am sketching out a piece and brainstorming. A laptop can be quite a distraction. Therefore, I often take pencil and paper and embark on a pilgrimage to the library; yes, a place with no instruments around. They often distract me, too.”
Dixon, a native of San Bernardino, Calif., is not only the next big composer, but she also is a skilled violinist and violist. Dixon’s musical roots began with the violin, but turned to the viola, which is a bit bigger than the violin and has a lower c-string.
“I first wanted to learn to play violin when I was in first or second grade and started actually playing when I was in fourth grade,” she said. “I picked up the viola right before my junior year of high school, which is pretty late for a musician. Now it is my primary instrument and my favorite out of the two.”
On April 26, Dixon will take that coveted walk across the Greek Theatre stage, earning her Bachelor of Music in Music Composition from the School of Music.
“Redlands has been a great experience for me. I have a lot of memories and friendships that I will carry with me,” she said. Reflecting back on the past four years, one thing she will cherish most is the “team spirit” that is evident at the School of Music.
“The School of Music at the University of Redlands is full of camaraderie,” Dixon said. “Normally when you are a composer, you have to pay students to play your music for you. Here at Redlands, everyone is really supportive of one another and they will play your music because they want to see you succeed.”
And succeed she has. Over the course of her time studying at the University of Redlands, Dixon has engaged in Theater Arts by composing music for the production “Victoria Martin: Math Team Queen.” She also won the Tone Poem Contest in PAH-Fest 2013, a film and music festival founded by Christopher Coppola. In addition, she worked with composers Joan Tower and William Bolcom in the University’s Frederick Loewe Symposium in American Music. In April of 2013, Dixon was also inducted into the Redlands chapter of the National Music Honor Society, Pi Kappa Lambda. Outside of the School of Music, Dixon is a member of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.
In addition to her successes, she has also made a difference in the lives of several future musicians. In 2011, she began teaching at the Community School of Music and the Arts at the University.
“I love teaching music,” she said. “It is so great to see future musicians move closer towards their goals.”
As for life after college, Dixon plans on continuing to teach at music camp during the summer and will begin looking into graduate programs when she returns in the fall. Expect big things from this artist who might be the next acclaimed violist, award-winning composer, inspiring professor, or all three.
To hear compositions written by Dixon, visit her SoundCloud here.
Written by: Eileen Hards