Ensemble life: Director who began association as LBW student stepping down

Published 1:07 am Friday, May 17, 2019

Longtime LBW Community College Ensemble Director Greg Aplin is walking away from the group with which he’s been associated since he was a student.

Greg Aplin is stepping down as ensemble director; the 2018-19 group, above.

Aplin, who is the associate dean of instructional and information technology, said the college’s recent announcement that it would be upgrading its computer software system prompted him to make the decision.

“The biggest thing for me right now is that LBW is fixing to upgrade to a brand new administrative computer system,” Aplin said. “And that falls under my area of responsibility. It is something where there is going to have to be a lot of training involved, a lot of data integration involved and a lot of leadership on my part to lead us through it.”

Aplin joined the ensemble as a student in 1983.

After graduating from Troy University and accepting a teaching job at LBW, then-Director Jerry Padgett asked him to perform again, and become assistant director.

Aplin took over the leadership of the ensemble in 2002 after Padgett’s death, and said he’ll never forget Padgett’s lasting impact on his life, music, and commitment to give back to the community.

“I think the initial reason that I joined the ensemble in the first place was the opportunity that it presented,” Aplin said. “It gave me an outlet to share what God has blessed me with and the opportunity to share it with others. Being able to do that as a student and then having the opportunity to be a mentor and be able to do that as a director was amazing.

“I had the opportunity to share what God gave me with others when I was a performer, but when I was director I had the opportunity to be able to help mentor these students and help them share what God has blessed them with. Just the opportunity to go full circle means a lot.”

Aplin wants the community to understand is that the LBW Ensemble is a family.

“The friendships that I have forged from the opportunity of working so closely with our ensemble students has created what is known today as ‘our family,’ ” Aplin said. “I want everybody to understand that the family grows each year, because we bring in new members. Everybody that has ever been in the ensemble is considered part of the ensemble family. I want people to understand that the ensemble has only had three directors, Jerry Padgett, myself and Johnny Brewer, and Johnny and I were both students of Jerry’s, so that makes the family even stronger.”

The Thursday night before the ensemble’s last 2019 show, Aplin was surprised with an envelope filled with letters from the ensemble members.

“I walk in and they presented me with 20 letters,” Aplin said. “It was just thoughts from them. Johnny (Brewer) said, ‘They just gave them to me. You don’t want to read those right now,’ but we were sitting there at supper and all of the kids kept yelling out, ‘Read mine first,’ so I opened them up and I think that the reoccurring theme from all of those letters was along the lines of, ‘Thank you for what you did and what you said everyday to help me realize what a great opportunity it has been to be a part of the ensemble and what you did to try and help me be better,’ I can leave knowing that for 20 years that is exactly what I tried to do. I tried to help students, to mentor them to be better vocally and instrumentally, but at the same time, trying to help them with their daily lives.”

Brewer and Kathy Dowdy will continue to direct the ensemble. Aplin said he wishes them well, and knows they will work tirelessly to continue the culture of excellence associated with the program.

He also expressed his appreciation to the former college presidents and the current one for their support.

“William H. McWhorter, Seth Hammett, Ed Meadows, Jim Krudop, Wayne Bennett and especially Dr. Herbert Riedel, they were instrumental in my continuing to do this over the years,” Aplin said. “To my wonderful colleagues, past and present, thank you for your generosity and support over the years. Also a special thank you to Jerry Wishum, Christy Hawkins, Nancy Wiggins and Darlene Hogg for their help throughout the years. I want to thank all of my students that I had the opportunity to work with for so many years and just letting them know that it will continue to be a blessing in my life to be able to continue to remember all of those wonderful memories that we have shared.”

He also expressed his thanks to his family for their support.

“Because of this, a promise to Jerry Padgett two days before he passed has been fulfilled,” Aplin said. “Thank you God, for the blessing and the journey.”