Arts Conductor

Douglas A. Peterson directs as his wife Pamela Hanson-Peterson sings during Daytona State College's 34th annual “Our Gift to the Community” last year at the performing arts center at 221 N. Beach St. in Daytona Beach.

Dr. Douglas Peterson, chair of the Mike Curb College of Music, Entertainment and Art at Daytona State College, has retired after 35 years working at the college.

His many accomplishments include conducting a concert at the Auditorio Nacional de Música (the major concert hall in Madrid, Spain) in which he led a 100-piece symphonic band with his wife, Pamela, singing.

He also is renowned for conducting the annual Daytona State College “Our Gift to the Community” Holiday Concert.

“My jobs have almost always revolved around music,” said Dr. Peterson, who lives in Port Orange. “I started at Daytona State College as an interim band director in 1984 when I was 27 years old. Later on, I became program manager in the instrumental side of music.”

In 2003, he became the chair of what would become the Mike Curb College.

“At that point I was not only chair of music, but of theatre, dance, of art, and music production technology,” he said.

He also was responsible for the performing arts center on Beach Street.

“I had a very large faculty and a big responsibility,” he said.

Dr. Peterson’s position has been filled by Trent Berning, whose background is in art.

“I hope that I’ve set a high standard and acted as a role model for the many hundreds if not thousands of students that have passed through the doors of the college and shown them the kind of life you might live if you work in the arts,” Dr. Peterson said. “If you learn to do anything very, very well, that ability to learn to do well will transpose itself into almost any discipline or any career you might want to follow. It may or may not be music, but by learning music well you can do many other things well, too. I hope that I show them you always set a high standard. You don’t always have to be the finest player, the finest artist walking in the room, but you can certainly raise the bar as high as you possibly can for yourself.”

As to conducting, he said, “Conducting is one of the great joys. The instrument is the orchestra itself. You’re playing the band – they are your instrument. You’re sort of pulling the strings.”

A community must have a comprehensive arts presence, he said. “It’s just vital to making it a complete community.”

While obtaining his doctorate, Dr. Peterson conducted a concert at DSC, working with Korel Husa, a Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, using his music.

As to musical preference, he said, “As long as the music is of a good, high quality I’ll listen to it.”

A 1975 Mainland High School graduate, Dr. Peterson’s early years included playing summers in the Daytona Beach Municipal Band and Seaside Music Theatre, both now gone. He plays the clarinet and saxophone and has played in more than 50 musicals in his career.

One of his first jobs was teaching eighth grade girls physical education as a substitute teacher. “The girls ran in the locker room and hid from me. I remember that,” he said.

His wife, Pamela Jean Hanson-Peterson, teaches voice classes, classic piano and music appreciation at DSC. She recently was inducted into the Daytona Beach Running Series Hall of Fame for 2019. The couple met in Indiana while getting their master’s degrees at Indiana University. They have one son, Nathaniel.

The City of Daytona Beach honored him by declaring Thursday, Sept. 5, as Dr. Douglas A. Peterson Day.

J. Scott Green, technical director of the performing arts center, said, “Dr. Peterson has been such a positive force and leader for the arts for so many years in our community.”

He plans to travel in retirement, but will continue to play clarinet in the DSC Symphonic Band and the DSC Civic Orchestra. He will also continue as a board member of the Daytona Beach Symphony Society, which inspired him as a youth. He will be taking a painting class next month in New Smyrna Beach.

“I’ll see what time yields for me to do now that I have the time,” he said.

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