C. Dwight Rhodes
1922 - 2012
Dwight Rhodes taught music in four academies and a high school and was active as a tenor soloist and as a member of several male quartets. He composed music for piano and choral groups, arranged a number of works for male quartet and choir, was adept as a pianist, and played both saxophone and cello while young.
The oldest of six siblings, Rhodes was born in Pontiac, Michigan, and grew up in a musical family where music was a central activity. At age eight, he began lessons in piano with his paternal grandfather. He subsequently learned the saxophone on his own, after his father showed him the fingering on his old tenor saxophone, and also taught himself to play the cello.
Beginning at age 13, he took lessons for two years on piano with Adelphian Academy piano teachers Maude Warren, Ethel DeCamp, and Rosella Culver, wife of the principal. At the end of that time Rhodes began study with Gladys Gilbert, a resident of nearby Holly, Michigan. Under her tutelage he won first prize in the local high school amateur hour.
His mother, though not a trained musician, joined with Dwight and his brother Keith to form an a cappella vocal trio. After hearing a song, she would teach it to her sons, who would then sing with her, harmonizing it by ear. During this time, the family would give musical programs, singing as a group and presenting the children doing various solos with Dwight, Carol, and Beverly on piano, Keith on violin, and Dale on clarinet.
While Dwight was attending AA, he also sang second tenor in a male quartet that included principal Monte Culver as bass. They performed often and traveled widely in eastern Michigan, representing the school.
Rhodes transferred to Emmanuel Missionary College Academy, now Andrews Academy, in 1941. He sang in two quartets, joined with Charles (Chuck) Foreman to become a sought-after vocal duo, and sang in a double mixed quartet that was featured in one of the first music festivals in the Lake Union in 1942, hosted by Broadview Academy. He also continued study on piano under Helen F. Cone, music director at EMCA and played baritone saxophone in the college band.
In December 1942, in his senior year in academy, Rhodes was drafted into military service. While stationed in France at the end of World War II, he studied piano under Giles Gilbert, a concert artist and university piano teacher living in Paris. Following his discharge from the army in January 1946, he graduated from EMCA the following May.
While attending EMCA in the 1941-1942 school year, he had met college student Ivan Maracle, a talented singer and guitarist. He later talked about that encounter and subsequent interactions with him:
Ivan was a college student, but we both lived in Burman Hall, the boys' dormitory. He formed a male quartet using me as second tenor, Ivan Crawford as first tenor, and Bob Paddock as bass. He sang baritone. He also played classical guitar, and I was fascinated by his technique of using individual fingers to pluck the strings.
His father, Charles, was owner of Maracle Press in Oshawa, Canada, a business he had started and built into a successful industry. Ivan had also learned to be a printer. During the time I spent in the army, I lost track of him. Shortly after I was discharged in 1946, I received a letter from him inviting me to come to Oshawa Missionary College [now Kingsway College] to sing in a quartet he was forming. I went to look over the place, attended a music program that featured his male chorus and a women's triple trio. I accepted the invitation, then enrolled as a student for the 1946-1947 school year. This is where I first set my eyes on Ruth Noble, a talented young woman who was singing in the triple trio. We married in 1948 and would have two daughters, Karen and Lynette.
During that year at OMC, Rhodes sang in the Gospelaires male quartet, which gave a weekly radio program, Thirty Minutes of Silver Linings. It was during this time that Rhodes started the lifelong practice of arranging music for groups, even though he had not yet had any formal training in theory or arranging.
He returned to Emmanuel Missionary College in 1950 to begin work on a B.A. in music, majoring in voice. He began vocal instruction with Melvin Davis and was invited to sing in the Collegians, EMC's select choral ensemble. Rhodes also sang in several male quartets, including one that traveled with J. L. Tucker, pastor of the EMC church, to represent Tucker's radio program, The Quiet Hour.
During his study at EMC, he directed the choir at the Church of God in St. Joseph, Michigan, for two years and the Berrien Springs Village SDA Church choir for a year. He also was student director of the EMCA choir in 1951-1952. His first instruction in conducting was gleaned from inside the back cover of a Christ in Song hymnal, where his aunt had diagrammed hand movements for commonly used time signatures.
Rhodes' first teaching position was at Broadview Academy in Illinois, where he taught voice and piano and directed the choir and girls’ glee club, the Symphonettes, for two years. He then taught at Maplewood Academy in Minnesota for the next three years. While there, he doubled the size of the band and, while teaching a beginners’ band which he had started, learned to play the trombone.
In 1960, Rhodes returned to Adelphian as choir director, a position he would hold for five years. Under his direction, the choir made a record that sold out. From 1965 to 1969, he taught music in the Buchanan, Michigan, public high school. During this time he conducted the First Baptist Church choir for a weekly radio broadcast in nearby Niles for two years and completed an M.Mus. at Andrews University in 1967.
Rhodes accepted a position at Hawaiian Mission Academy in 1969. By 1971, an irreversible hearing loss ended his music career. Aside from three years in a blown film operation in Cicero, Indiana, he worked in hospital purchasing for the next 16 years, retiring from Hinsdale Hospital in 1987. He and Ruth were living in Springfield, Missouri, when she died in 2010, at age 82; he died three years later, at age ninety.
Sources, Interviews and emails from 2007 to 2013; Timeline provided by Dwight Rhodes, 28 May 2007 and 11 June 2007; Letter, 3 July 2007; Social Security Death Index (Ruth Nobel Rhodes); personal knowledge (we taught together at Adelphian Academy in 1964-65).
Music and Arrangements by C. Dwight Rhodes
A Selective Listing
I Must Go Down to the Sea Again, 1946. An accompaniment for a friend's original melody for the poem by John Masefield.
Rondolette, Op. 5, No. 2
La Danse Sombre
Hymn Medley, 1972. A medly of four hymns with transitional passages, including Let the Lord Lead You, God Leads His Dear Children Along, He Leadeth Me, and All the Way My Savior Leads Me.
Silver Chords, 1973.
Tuneful Blacksmith, 1989. Incomplete.
El Espanol, 1998.
Arrangements of nine hymns and songs for male quartet, 1946.
There's a Wideness in God's Mercy, 1962. Basso profundo solo, SATB, 7 voices,)
Wonderful, 1952. Chorus
Behold He Comes, 1953. Chorus
Holy, Holy, 1957. Prayer, response for choir.
Peace I Leave with You, 1957. Benediction, for choir.
To Know and Make Known, 1961-62 Chorus for youth rally at Adelphian Academy
Worship the Lord, 1963. Introit, composed for and used at the Lake Union Music Festival
All Around Us Men Shout Peace, 1970. Hawaiian Mission Academy Week of Prayer.
In My Heart, 1971. Chorus.
Praise Him, Praise Him, 1971. Chorus.
When I Consider, 1971.
Praise His Name, 1971. Duet for two equal tenors.
Forever Faithful is the Lord, 1981. Vocal solo, incomplete.
Introduction and Allegro, 1967. Brass Quartet.