WMI – armed and ready

by Jeff Curnow – 

Coming from home corps with addresses spanning three-quarters of the globe, 124 delegates and 47 faculty members gathered in August for the 28th annual Western Music Institute.

The theme for the ten-day institute was “Armed and Ready.” Delegates were challenged to take on the full armor of God in preparation for their return home. Bible study classes set the tone for each day and the armor of God theme woven throughout the schedule provided a level of spiritual emphasis matching the musical emphasis.

“WMI 2005 was a fabulous experience, with the students being given a chance to further their musical skills,” said Territorial Music Secretary Neil Smith. “But more than that, it was a great time of spiritual commitment and renewal. We felt God’s presence in everything that took place.”

Camp Mt. Crags and the Southern California Division again played host to the institute. This setting in Malibu Canyon provided quiet time for rehearsal and reflection. “It’s really great for the students to be able to come together from all over the territory, get away from things that might hinder them at home, and concentrate on something that they really enjoy—even if it’s only for a few days—the relationships formed here can last a lifetime,” said Derek Helms, Del Oro divisional music director.

One of the highlights was a visit to Bell Shelter in Los Angeles. While the delegates were prepared to minister to the residents through music, many expressed surprise at the fullness of the blessing they received from meeting those who had so little.

The final concert of the week was held at Tustin Ranch Corps. Although a truly high level of musicianship was displayed here, the delegates expressed their desire that the concert not be viewed so much as a performance, but instead as a time of praise through music.

As the top delegate, Christian Riesebieter (San Diego Citadel) was awarded the Stillwell Family Award for the second time. Said Christian, “WMI this year was a real stretch for me. I came out of my shell a bit more I think. I had the privilege to lead devotions one night; I got up and gave my testimony––I just put myself out there more. I was also stretched musically and spiritually.”

Daniel Summers (Salem, Ore. corps), who impressed many with his kind heart and sense of humor, was also impressive musically and awarded the Watt Family Scholarship—providing funds to help him advance in his musical studies.

Pins for special musical accomplishment were awarded to: David Hall (Tustin Ranch), JJ Opina (San Diego Citadel) and Chad Ingram (San Diego Citadel)—Cornet; Christian Riesebieter—Euphonium; Daniel Tollerud (Santa Clara Citadel)—Baritone and Michael Opina (San Diego Citadel)—Eb Bass, all from the WMI Band; and to Erick Rodriguez (Santa Ana Temple) from the Praise and Worship group.

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