Marcia Yost became the executive director of the Music Center at Goshen College on Oct. 1.

Yost will continue her work as choral director and chair of the music department at Goshen High School even as she assumes leadership of the Music Center, a quarter-time position. While at Goshen High School, her choirs have won three state championships and six state runner-up titles.

“Since the first time I walked into the Music Center I have been in awe of the facility,” Yost said. “The possibilities are wonderful and to be involved in continuing to bring those possibilities to the community and Goshen College is invigorating and exciting.”

Yost said she remembers her first encounter with Sauder Concert Hall, sitting in the back of the hall as the college choirs and orchestra rehearsed a piece by Lee Dengler, a  Goshen composer, for the upcoming dedication.

“I was literally moved to tears,” she said. “I was so overcome by the facility and the music and the fact that we had something like this in our little burg.”

A lifelong Goshen resident, Yost received a bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Indianapolis in 1976. She later earned a master’s degree in music education from Western Michigan University in 1984.

A career in music seemed preordained. “Music has been my passion since I was very young,” she said. “I didn’t choose music; I think it chose me in many ways.”

At the age of three she began singing in the children’s choir at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Goshen. She started piano in the first grade, and in sixth grade she started guitar lessons and then taught herself to play the banjo. At Goshen High School she was a member of the band, the orchestra, the choir and the Crimsonaires.

“I had the spirit of a performer from [when I was] little on,” she said. “People assumed that is what I would do. I was headed toward Europe, hoping to break into opera. And then I became a student teacher. I was hooked for life.”

Yost has taught music for over 30 years at both Fairfield Community Schools and Goshen High School. “[Music] is my vocation and avocation,” she said. “It is how I create and recreate. There is nothing that feeds my soul more than making music with the young and old alike.”

From the long hours she puts in at the high school every day, to the trips she makes with the choirs for competitions in Indianapolis and New York City, Yost’s days are devoted to music.

And on weekends, the music continues. Yost has been the music director at the First Presbyterian Church in Goshen for over 20 years.

Yost welcomes the opportunity to help shape the arts at Goshen College. “I am a person who has always enjoyed a challenge and looking to the future,” Yost said.

She has many ideas for the Music Center, including developmental work with the “Music Together” program, youth choirs, orchestras and the Performing Arts Series that brings world-class performers to Sauder stage.

Yost wants to create ways to bring more people from the community to these events, expanding the audiences and spreading awareness outside of the college itself.

Brian Wiebe, who served as  executive director since 2002, resigned to serve as executive director of the Horizon Education Alliance, an Elkhart County organization working toward stronger education. He officially left his position at the Music Center at the end of September. Along with the transition to Yost’s leadership, Brian Mast will assume more responsibilities as managing director of the Music Center.

“We are all richer because the facility is part of our community,” Yost said. “I hope it will even more clearly and fully define the culture of our community, county and state.”

Yet Yost said she recognizes that “too many people” in the area have never seen the inside of the Music Center.

“It’s been so easy to fill the seats in first 10 years with people who are familiar with Goshen College,” she said. “One of things we need to do is help people outside that circle of ‘Goshen College-aware people’ know that it’s there. We’re beginning to investigate what that might look like. It’s like a campaign. If we can’t bring you to the hall, we’ll find a way to take the hall to you.”

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