Staples of your Orchestra: Allen Hendricks

  • Wednesday, October 2, 2013

First-chair violinist Allen Hendricks stands in front of the pond at Charleston Southern University where he teaches at the nearby Lightsey Chapel. MICHAEL QUIRK/JOURNAL SCENE

 
The pint-size statue of an English Bulldog sits on Allen Hendricks’ desk at Charleston Southern University. Its position routinely changes around the office but the meaning remains the same. Bulldogs were the favorite animal of his late father, Sherman Hendricks.
“It’s not a symbol of trying to make my dad proud. It’s more about living by his example and showing him appreciation for how much time he invested in me,” he said. “I base a lot of my life off of my dad.”
Hendricks grew up in Easley, S.C. the oldest of three. His father was a hospital administrator at Baptist Easley Hospital and his mother, Patsy, was a nurse. His sister, Lyle, is six years his junior and is currently a social worker and violin player in Pickens Co. He also has a brother, Jock, who is 10 years younger and is a music director at a church in Sumter. After Hendricks graduated and left the house, his parents adopted nine special needs children.
“One of my brothers was living in Alabama with an older couple that couldn’t care for him anymore and my parents took him in,” he said. “They gave these kids homes and it never took any food off the table for any of the other ones.”
Starting in the children’s choir, Hendricks began performing at an early age. When he was in the fifth grade he planned to take up the banjo, but found a different instrument.
“In fifth grade all I wanted to do is play the banjo,” laughed Hendricks. “I was about a month away from picking it up when I found a violin and thought that I’d play that instead.”
The church music director brought in students from the local universities to teach the children strings. Hendricks continued to play throughout his childhood and enrolled at Furman University to major in education in strings. Furman is where he met his future wife, Miriam, with whom he would later have twin daughters, Lauren and Sarah.
After graduation he enrolled at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. where he earned a masters in church music.
His first job was as a music director at a church in Newport News, Va. He worked there for a year and a half before moving across the Hampton Roads Beltway to Chesapeake, Va. Hendricks worked there for 12 and a half years before moving back to the Palmetto State.
“We did a lot of growing up (in Chesapeake),” he said. “That’s where we bought our first car, our first house, it was adult growing up.”
Hendricks became the music director at Summerville Baptist Church. His nine years there were described as a “real joy” and he will be performing with the church this Christmas. In 2006 he left the church to take a job at CSU where he designed and oversees a bachelors program in music and worship leadership.
“It’s easy to get caught up in the music, but I try to help students know who I’m really doing this for,” he said. “I ask them if they are trying to find the easiest and fastest way out of college or if they are trying to make Him proud.”
The program incorporates worship along with the history of hymns with a Biblical foundation. In addition to the rewarding career, he is able to do something he hadn’t done in 24 years, play in an orchestra.
He played with the college orchestra and occasionally with the Greenville Orchestra when he was at Furman. The seminary in Louisville also allowed him to play in a school orchestra. After becoming a music director he did not have the time to play until he was approached by Betty Settle to play in the Summerville Community Orchestra.
“Betty played at SBC and was rallying a group together,” he said “The minute that I could play in an orchestra again I was back in and didn’t waste that opportunity.”
Hendricks has been the concertmaster for the last four years, playing first-chair violin. The distinctions are not what drive Hendricks.
“It’s a release for me, the rest of the work just goes away,” he said. “When I get in that orchestra zone, it’s a way for me to express the talent that God has given to me.”
Hendricks has modeled a lot of his life after his father and incorporates his faith into every aspect of his life. He also said that he has God to thank for the opportunities that he’s been given.
“How could God not be involved in every aspect of life? He just is. I come from a common family in a redneck part of the world and He gave me the opportunity to appreciate and perform classical music.”

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