AFount of Blessing was certainly poured out on all those present at the Forest Lake Church on October 18, 2014. The concert presented was the middle movement in a three part symphony of the Divine. Last year was movement one, "The Power and Glory of God." Last year's program symbolized God the Father, dwelling in glorious light and powerful majesty. This year's program, part two, symbolized God the Holy Spirit. In this concert was shown God the Omnipresent, the Spirit of all creation, and the Still, Small Voice of the Comforter.
The program was structured into three thematic sections, each focusing on an aspect of the Holy Spirit.
Movement 1 - The Holy Spirit a Companion
Beginning with a musical telling of creation, the orchestra began the program quietly and mysteriously. Foreshadowing things to come, a lone recorder played the first melody of the evening. This melody was an allusion to the overarching theme of the whole concert, the Still, Small Voice of the Spirit. "Overture Spiritus" told the story of Genesis 1:1-3, when the Trinity bent down to this part of space and spoke our home into being with musical affluence, founded by the Father, created by the Son, and permeated by the Holy Spirit.
The next piece saw all the musicians performing, with an arrangement of the hymn tune "By Thou My Vision" entitled "Thy Vision, Our Sight," arranged by Aric Vyhmeister. The choir sang five original verses penned by Rebecca Brothers. This piece was a telling of humanity's need for Divinity's gift of sight in this dark world.
Playing on the theme of sight, the next piece featured Forest Lake Academy's Contabilé singing the hauntingly beautiful acapella piece "Light Everlasting" by Olaf Christianson.
The brass and percussion joined Linda van Niekerk on organ, performing an energetic and exciting piece titled "Veni Creator Spiritus" by Robert Parker. The act of creation is one of joy, and this was strongly and enthusiastically conveyed by the brass and organ.
Movement 2 - The Holy Spirit a Comforter
The middle section of the program saw the gentle side of God's Spirit. John Rutter's "The Lord is My Shepherd" for strings, harp, oboe and choir was masterfully performed. Stefanie Johnson's masterful oboe performance and the touching and delicate harp playing of Linda van Niekerk filled the space with powerful emotion.
Following the Rutter piece was and continuing in the same vein, the female voices of the chorus, horn, and clarinet under the baton of Leon Hauck presented a musical prayer, thanking God for the protection He affords His flock. The piece, a setting of the hymn "Savior, Like a Shepherd," also featured newly written verses by Rebecca Brothers.
Having musically established in this section the protection afforded us, and the blessings given to us, by God through His Sprit, the choir, horn, and oboe then musically posed the question, 'What then shall we give to God in return?' This was the context of the next piece, "Offertory," by John Ness Beck. The piece was orchestrated by Aric Vyhmeister and directed by Leon Hauck.
Movement 3 - The Holy Spirit a Blessing
The Holy Spirit appeared to Elijah in a Still, Small Voice. But not before the raw, unshielded power of Divinity was shown to him on Mount Horeb. A musical story was told by the orchestra, in an original piece set by Mark Babienko and composed by Aric Vyhmeister titled "A Still, Small Voice." The music followed Elijah as he ran to hide on the mountain, was confronted by God, shown God's power, and then having it demonstrated that Gods preferred method of communication is the quiet and intimate. The piece was written with a deliberate bridge into the next piece.
The penultimate piece on the program, "His Voice as the Sound" by Mack Wilberg, completed the thought that was begun in "A Still, Small Voice." After the tempestuous experience on the mountain, Elijah then experienced the Spirit of God how God prefers it: quietly, sweetly, gently. Wilberg arrangement beautifully captured the gentle resonance of Gods voice. This piece concluded the musical theme first heard in "Overture Spiritus."
The final work on the program was Mack Wilberg's "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing." Featuring full chorus, full orchestra, and organ, the title work of the program began softly and continued to build into a thunderous ending of uncontainable musical enthusiasm and excitement. The Spirit was present in earnest and the audience felt this, exclaiming for joy even before the final musical chord had finished. Truly, it was an afternoon in which Heaven bent a little closer to Earth and sang with us.
About the Program
The music program presented February 23 was part 2 in the second chapter of the "Power and Glory of God Through Music" concert series. In 2018, this new chapter began with the concert "Rejoice in Christ!" and continued here with "Christ Our Song." Together with several other churches in the area, we brought to our audience a grand program of sacred, uplifting, and awe-inspiring music featuring a combined mass choir, orchestra, hand bells, and organ.
We are constantly bombarded with news of bad things happening; on the local level, on the national level, on the global level. Music offers a break from that. Specifically, this music program exists for two reasons: to return a musical offering to the Lord, and to provide a brief respite from the constant bombardment of bad things in the world around us.
It may be noticed that there are no holidays near the program date. This is by design. The goal is to provide a musical oasis, no matter how brief, without the emotional ties to a holiday or event. The program is altruistic in nature; it exists because music and musical opportunities are good as well as fun.
In his thirty-third year of teaching, Mark Becker came to Forest Lake Academy eight years ago. A 1977 graduate of Union College, he completed a Masters of Music program at Boise State University in 1991. Becker’s professional experiences include music teacher at Mile High Academy (Denver, CO), Gem State Academy (Caldwell, ID), and Andrews Academy (Berrien Springs, MI) and Minister of Music at Denver First Seventh-day Adventist Church (Denver, CO) and Zion United Church of Christ (Baroda, MI)
Leon Hauck brings with him 40 years of music performance and directing. He was the choir director at the Denver First Seventh-day Adventist Church for several years. He is also the director of Restoration, a vocal octet. He studied piano under Virginia Gene Rittenhouse for several years, and at the age of 17 placed first in the New England Piano Teachers Association competition. He is an active trombone player with the Markham Brass, as well as an active singer with Restoration.
Mack Wilberg is a composer, arranger, conductor, choral clinician and the current music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. His compositions and arrangements are performed and recorded by choral organizations throughout the world. In addition to the many compositions he has written for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, his works have been performed by such artists as Renée Fleming, Frederica von Stade, Bryn Terfel, the King’s Singers, narrators Walter Cronkite and Claire Bloom.
- His Voice as the Sound
- Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing
John Rutter is a conductor, record producer, and prolific composer of primarily choral works. Some of his best known and internationally acclaimed works include "Gloria", "Requiem", and "Magnificat". In 1981, Rutter founded his own choir, the Cambridge Singers, which he conducts and with which he has made many recordings of sacred choral repertoire (including his own works), particularly under his own label Collegium Records. He resides at Duxford in Cambridgeshire and frequently conducts many choirs and orchestras around the world.
- The Lord is my Shepherd
Olaf C. Christiansen - professor of music at St. Olaf College, respected composer and arranger of sacred song, eminent clinician, internationally acclaimed conductor of the St. Olaf Choir - was a giant in the world of choral music. He taught conducting and voice at Oberlin Conservatory, founded the A Cappella Choir there, the Elizabethan Singers, and the Oratorio Society. Throughout the years his goal was to present sacred music sung beautifully, without distraction, so the listener would be sensitized to the Holy Spirit's message.
- Light Everlasting
John Ness Beck
John Ness Beck was a composer and arranger of choral music. Beck was a conductor and arranger of international renown. His works are highly celebrated and performed by high school, college, church, community, and professional choirs across the globe today. His reputation as a composer and his experience as a choral director led to an increasing demand for appearances as guest conductor and lecturer at musical clinics and festivals throughout the country. He was best known for his very popular and accessible settings of traditional Sacred music.
Robert W. Parker is a prizewinning, critically acclaimed composer and performer, who has been called "a modern-day Vaughn Williams" by distinguished composers and "a delight" by the press from Connecticut to California. His compositions have been heard in churches, on concert stages, and in arts festivals all around the world. He has performed for Presidential inaugurations, appeared on stages throughout Europe, the Caribbean, and Japan, and has been seen (and heard) on both national and international television.
- Veni Creator Spiritus[Excerpt]
Aric Vyhmeister studied piano at Walla Walla University under Dr. Leonard Richter, performing extensively as a collaborative recitalist. A frequent chamber performer, he served four years as principal accompanist for Walla Walla University's choral ensembles, leading to performances across the West Coast including a concert at the Cathedral of Christ the Light near San Francisco. He began studying theory and composition under the guidance of Dr. Lyn Ritz, premiering multiple works under the baton of Professor Brandon Beck. While in attendance he studied organ under Dr. Kraig Scott and horn under Dean Kravig while playing several seasons with the Walla Walla Symphony, and is a former student of Carolyn Blice.
- Overture Spiritus
- Thy Vision, Our Sight
- Thy Pleasant Pastures
- A Still, Small Voice
The Choir - An Exciting Partnership
The choir this year is composed of members from the Markham Woods Seventh-day Adventist church in Longwood, First Methodist Church of Orlando, Spring Meadows Seventh-day Adventist church, Forest Lake Seventh-day Adventist Church Choir, members of the Men of Markham Woods men's chorus, the vocal octet Restoration, several out of state choir performers, and numerous friends from the Orlando community and surrounding areas.
The concert is a unique and exciting opportunity to blend the choral talents of many congregations, and the result is anticipated to produce amazing experiences for both choir singers and audiences alike.
The Instrumentalists - An Incredible Experience
The concert this year provides a once-off exciting experience for the instrumentalists. Often an orchestra is composed of an established group. Here we have the blending of several smaller groups, including members of the Orlando Philharmonic, the Markham Woods Brass, Sabbath Strings, and students from Forest Lake Academy, Lake Highland Academy, and numerous friends from the Orlando community and surrounding areas.
Together with full pipe organ and handbells, the instruments for this years concert promise to deliver a spectacular experience for performers and audience alike.