Lakeland Artisan Meshes Music and Masts!
The FREE, Florida Philharmonia concert on May 2 at College Heights United Methodist Church in Lakeland, Florida, promises Pop’s-type musical selections—with a nautical twist of fun. The program includes Victory at Sea, Scarborough Fair, Russian Sailor’s Dance, Bugler’s Holiday—along with a silent auction for a museum quality, to-scale model of the famous ship, the HMS Endeavour!
A 1977 graduate of Grand Valley State University with a Masters in Music Education and Administration, Rodger knew his eye for details and his creative abilities would lead him to dream, build and love music for a lifetime. What he didn’t know was that he would use those same abilities to later craft to-scale, historic ship replicas.
Rodger taught music in Michigan and Minnesota public schools for 18 years before coming to Polk County in 1995, where he then taught at George Jenkins Senior High School for 10 years. Rodger served three tours of duty for his country during the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1974 working with sonar electronics on the Henry B Wilson, a guided missile destroyer. His connection with the sea was solidified. An accomplished violinist, he performed with various volunteer and semi-professional orchestras in Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, and Michigan as well as the ISO before and after retiring. When the Florida Philharmonia asked him to conduct their start-up volunteer orchestra, it was a natural fit. He sees shipbuilding in a similar light.
“Model ships are as intricate as a symphony,” he explains. Each mast, beam, and batten—they have to curve in the right place, recess in the right place and even weigh the correct amount if the model is a successful replica.” He smiles, “And like Philharmonia’s music, each piece has its own history…each one is a new chance to build something beautiful for others to appreciate and enjoy.”
“I’ve heard builders say this hobby takes the patience of a saint, the hands of a surgeon and the ability to swear like a sailor.” Laughing, he adds, “It’s a lot like rehearsing a symphonic performance. We put a lot of pieces together, fit them carefully, take them apart, file them down and put them back together. Success is about creating quality.”
Rodger hand-mills the exotic hardwoods used in his ships to precise dimensions, using a miniature table saw and a regular woodworking table saw or band saw—plus a lot of patience and a steady hand. “It’s as detailed as conducting,” Rodger says. And yes, he works to background music!
The soon-to-be-auctioned model ship HMS Endeavour replicates one of the most famous ships in naval history—the ship on which the legendary Captain James Cook achieved the first recorded European contact with the east coast of Australia, Hawaii, and the first circumnavigation of New Zealand. The Endeavor passed through several owners, including the Lord Sandwich, and was lost until 2016 when researchers found the wreckage.
Concert attendees may bid on the model ship at the May 2 concert and silent auction. Be at Lakeland’s College Heights United Methodist Church on Tuesday, May 2 to hear wonderful music—and secure your auction number. Doors open at 6:30 pm for viewing/bidding and the concert begins at 7:30 pm. This final concert of the season is filled with familiar favorites for all ages.