Musicians resonate at Western Music Institute
by James Anderson, Territorial Music Secretary –
SPECIAL GUEST BANDMASTER Kenneth Downie leads WMI rehearsal.
With the hills, valleys and mountains surrounding Camp Mountain Crags resounding to the sounds of instrumentalists and vocalists warming up in preparation for audition, the Western Music Institute signaled its 2003 commencement.
One hundred fourteen young people aged 13-30 representing all 10 divisions gathered for an intensive 10-day music and worship experience. Special guests were Bandmaster Kenneth Downie and his wife Songster Leader Patricia Downie from Winchester Corps, England. Both are extremely accomplished and ex-perienced musicians and composers but also have a vibrant and dynamic testimony, the power and sincerity of which immediately resonated in the hearts and minds of the delegates and faculty.
To the strains of the chorus ”I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart,” the faculty band commenced the Welcome Night evening program.
Highlights included playing the march “The Joybringer,” composed by Bandmaster Downie, singing the WMI pep song and the entry of the WMI flag carried by last year’s top student, Hilary Sholin (Hawaii). As the colors were being trooped, Aleen Bradley’s pure soprano voice rendered a moving setting of “I Cannot Leave The Dear Old Flag.”
The newly appointed territorial youth secretary and assistant youth secretary, respectively, Captains Kyle and Lisa Smith, were welcomed, and Lisa delighted the assembled company with a newly composed song entitled “WMI Blues,” while Kyle challenged and inspired with a powerful Bible message.
The chaplains Captains Ian and Isobel Robinson, Santa Rosa, Calif., corps officers, were outstanding in their leadership of the daily devotional time, “Morning Manna.”
Each day was packed with rehearsals but the culmination of each day was the evening
they included a Ceilidh (an evening of Scottish country dancing, poetry and song), a fun night and a camp fire meeting, at whose conclusion delegates were encouraged to throw a twig into the fire, symbolizing the release of things hindering their spiritual growth.
Three of the evening programs were performance-based and open to the public. The Preview of the Bands and Choruses allowed delegates, faculty and friends, for the first time, to listen to and enjoy the progress made by each group. The Soloist Recital Evening, in conjunction with the Candlelight Dinner, was a sparkling, dress-up occasion, featuring a dazzling array of individual talent. The Gospel Arts Festival, showcasing the work of the elective classes, featured drama, dance, timbrel, guitar and brass ensemble.
Two spiritual highlights dominated the week, the Sunday morning Holiness meeting and the devotional at the conclusion of the Gospel Arts Festival. It was a privilege and a pleasure to welcome to WMI for the Sunday morning worship, the territorial commander, Commissioner Linda Bond. It was obvious that her sermon title, on the relevance of holiness, “Is Holiness off the Heezy,” immediately related in language and content to the delegates.
Also on the Friday evening at the conclusion of the Gospel Arts Festival, Cadet Matt Madsen reminded the listeners of the importance of keeping their horns clean, not only on the outside but more importantly, on the inside. As these thoughts were spiritualized, the challenging word again resulted in many delegates making their way to the altar.
It seemed almost in an instant that the time for the Final Festival, held in the Smothers Theater at Pepperdine University, Malibu, had arrived. With chorus music ranging from ”So we Lift Our Voices” to “My Joy through the Ages” and band repertoire ranging from “Soul Bossa Nova” to “Easter Glory,” each contribution excited, delighted and inspired the appreciative congregation. Matt Woods presented, in his magnificent tenor voice, a vocal solo and Joy Lee gave an up-to-date and thought-provoking personal word of witness.
Majors Paul and Carol Seiler, representing the cabinet, presented the final awards: Joy Lee, formerly of Los Angeles Korean and now of San Diego Citadel, was the Stillwell Award winner and San Diego Citadel was the Crestmont Award winner.