By Elizabeth Derstine
A sea of balding and white capped heads bobbed in appreciation to the opening swells of Os Justi preformed by the Goshen College Symphony Orchestra at the Homecoming Music Gala on Saturday. The alumni came out in full force, and students a little less so, to attend the event. The gala combined the orchestra, Chorale, Chamber Choir, Women’s World Choir, Men’s Chorus and several solo musical performances. The celebration also honored the 10th year since the Music Center’s opening.
The evening began with words of welcome from President Brenneman acknowledging the hall’s “decade of stewardship.” Brenneman was flanked by Brian Wiebe, former executive director of the Music Center, and Marsha Yost, who is transitioning into the position. Brenneman honored all Wiebe has done for the music program at the college.
“It is difficult to imagine a more joyful opportunity,” Wiebe said of his time as executive director as he passed a set of literal and figurative keys to Yost. “I look forward to 10…20…30…40 years of magnificent music [at the Music Center],” said Yost to the appreciative chuckles of the audience.
The audience, a hodgepodge of alumni, students, teachers and performers awaiting their turn to take the stage, provided, despite varying ages and backgrounds, not so varied responses to the program. Jane Hiebert-White, a GC alumnus, and her daughter, Mary, were in Goshen for the weekend, so that Mary, a high school senior, could experience and explore the campus. “It was an honor to have been here to be part of the anniversary of this beautiful concert hall,” Hiebert-White.
Ben Bauman, a sophomore, flocked to the balcony of the hall with the smattering of students not performing. “It’s nice to support my friends,” said Bauman. “I was really impressed by the quality of music.” Bauman noted how musical the GC community is as a whole; so musical, in fact, that the number of students who are not involved in music feels like a minority, Bauman said.
Lois and Sanford Alwine, after spending the day exchanging pleasantries with classmates at Lois’s 50th class reunion, felt that the concert was “way beyond expectations.”
“The Women’s Choir in particular was a tear jerker,” said Alwine. “I could see the faces of women in Afghanistan.”
Her husband was equally taken with the Woman’s Choir. “It was great to see how all the women were barefoot; it showed great connection to the earth.”
Tasha Landis, a sophomore, performed with the Women’s Choir. “Women’s Choir has always been an empowering experience, but while singing the song “Warrior” the power was especially present.” Gretchen Geyer, a sophomore who plays the violin, also felt palpable kinship, noting that she “felt more present than ever and could feel the connection within the orchestra.”
The concert concluded with a reception in the lobby. Conversation and words of congratulation were shared around mouthfuls of “Congratulations” cake.