WMI proves innovative, encouraging

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by Lambert Bittinger

BRIGADIERS JAMES AND JUDY Watt with Isaias Braga, the first recipient of the Watt Family Music Scholarship

From start to “finale” the theme for Western Music Institute 2004 was taken from Paul’s inspiring words in the 8th chapter of Romans. A group of 126 delegates gathered at Camp Mt. Crags, the largest delegate body to attend WMI in over 15 years. Under the direction of Pasadena Tabernacle Songster Leader Martin Hunt the schedule ran smoothly over the 10-day institute.

Bandmaster Howard Evans and his wife Heather were special guests. Evans serves as the director of music for The Netherland and Czech Republic Territory and is the bandmaster of the Amsterdam Staff Band. An exceptional musician, his training and leadership of the WMI band, chorus and advanced music skills class was intense and demanding of the highest level.

WMI 2004 proved to be a year of innovation: for the first time, delegates and faculty prepared a full-length festival of music (in one-and-a-half days), which was presented at the Bell Shelter in Los Angeles. All four choruses, timbrels, WMI band and several massed choral items were presented to the beneficiaries of this program; it proved an excellent opportunity for outreach and encouragement to many.

Many young hearts responded to the challenge from God’s word to “be holy,” presented by Territorial Youth Secretary Captain Kyle Smith during Sunday’s Holiness meeting. During the Sunday evening vespers around the campfire, delegates shared their favorite Scripture and told what it meant to them. WMI Chaplain Lt. Colonel Doug O’Brien challenged us to “Cast all your anxieties on him.”

Each day started with another WMI innovation—special Bible studies based upon Romans 8. The evening’s “sealed orders,” a quiet time of personal reflection, prepared by Bandsman/Songster Bee Bryant, continued the same theme.

Another innovation was the new Praise and Worship Division, co-chaired by Captain Lisa Smith and Anthony Begonia, which gave instruction and training in instrumental, vocal and leadership skills for leading a congregation in worship.

The last innovation was the venue for the final festival—the Tustin Ranch Corps—with more than 400 people in attendance. The WMI band’s performance of Peter Graham’s “The Last Amen,” and the singing of the Girls Chorus were highlights. The festival was seamlessly tied together with video interludes featuring the comments and reactions of delegates to their experience.

The performance of “Finale,” featuring the WMI band, massed chorus, soloists Matt Woods and Michelle Baker and a piano duet featuring Howard Evans and David Dunford, brought the evening to a climax. The music, written by Kevin Larsson, included an original song based on Romans 8 and finished with the WMI 2004 theme song by Joy Webb.

The final singing of the choral benediction was led by retired Territorial Music Secretary Ivor Bosanko.
WMI awards:

The first annual Watt Family Music Scholarship was presented on Friday evening to Isaias Braga, Torrance Brazillian Corps, for his use in developing his music and leadership skills during the coming year. The $1,000 award can be used to pay for music lessons, purchase music, or invest in a musical instrument.
The Crestmont Award was presented to San Diego Citadel.

The faculty of WMI 2004 selected Matt Woods, from Torrance Corps, as the delegate that demonstrated the highest standard of musicianship, deportment and leadership. The chief secretary, Lt. Colonel Donald C. Bell, presented the Stilwell Family Award to Matt during the Final Concert.

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