Lakeland Polk theater

Originally written by Paul Catala and published by the Ledger Media Group. Visit the to view the original article.

LAKELAND — Joseph DeBeasi returned for an encore, getting in tune with military families.

During his return trip to the area, DeBeasi worked to arrange a musical score telling not the struggles of soldiers and military personnel endure, but about the sacrifices, struggles and stateside duties of their families.

DeBeasi, 58, is a Hollywood music editor and composer who wrote the score for “American Sniper.” He has worked on more than 60 feature films including “The Revenant,” “The Book of Eli” and “Dirty Dancing.”

DeBeasi premiered “One More Minute” on March 20, a song commissioned by Southeastern University’s (SEU) College of Arts & Media. It was performed by Lakeland’s Imperial Symphony Orchestra (ISO) at Victory Church as part of the college’s “Sinfonia: Connecting the Arts & Community” project. Sinfonia, which cost more than $60,000, served as a tribute to members of the military and was funded partly through a $26,700 grant from the Polk County Tourist Development Council.

This time, DeBeasi returned to Lakeland for two days to interview families and prominent members of the community, such as Joe Tedder, Polk County tax collector, and Seretha Tinsley, co-owner of Tinsley Family Concessions Inc., Winter Haven. Tedder and Tinsley will have songs composed for them, telling their stories through music and will be the guest conductors for each song.

Craig Collins, dean of the SEU College of Arts & Media, has helped coordinate the cooperative effort between SEU, DeBeasi and the ISO. “Sinfonia: Connecting the Arts & Community” is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, in Lakeland’s Polk Theatre.

Collins said DeBeasi has interviewed seven families and selected different stories to present in a musical context. He said the pieces will focus on families with loved ones away, who have members of the military who don’t come home and others who don’t truly return home emotionally.

“We must show how music can tell a narrative to truly understand the pieces John DeBeasi is writing about our military and their families,” he said. “This is a wonderful way to unite Polk County.”

Warner Bros. studios and Clint Eastwood, who directed “American Sniper,” gave DeBeasi permission to use the movie’s music for “Sinfonia.”

DeBeasi said he was delighted to be back in the Polk County community. He hopes his new compositions will show how families continue to love and support those serving at various stages of their service.

“I’ve interviewed quite a range of families, from a young military family whose son is a first generation Marine, to a widow dealing with the results of a casualty, to another family who lost their son, and to another family recounting their son’s severe PTSD and his journey to recovery,” he said.

The experience brought a new awareness to him of how families go through war in different ways.

“A lot of times, they don’t know where their child is. Even when their child is not deployed, because of security protocol and the lack of communication associated with that line of work, parents just don’t know, so they’re pretty much carrying a constant level of anxiety the whole time,” he said. “It’s just a different point of view hearing from families about when they are here stateside and their loved ones are deployed, and it’s an eye opener for me.″

Published: January 19, 2018