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Gala concert among highlights of Southwestern’s music workshop

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–The 52nd annual Church Music Workshop at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary provided participants not only with numerous opportunities to learn from expert teachers and speakers in the field of music, but also a rare opportunity to be a part of the seminary’s first gala concert in connection with the event.

“It’s always great when people can come together to offer to God their best in music,” said C. David Keith, professor of conducting at Southwestern and conductor of Southwestern’s Oratorio Chorus, which was a part of the first-ever gala performance at downtown Fort Worth’s Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Performance Hall Feb. 19.

Other performances at the gala concert included piano duo Nielson & Young and classical guitarist Rodrigo Rodriguez, both with accompaniment by Southwestern’s Celebration Orchestra. Select songs also were sung by the congregation. David Willcocks, one of today’s leading choral and orchestral conductors and composers, led two selections: “Hallelujah” (from the “Mount of Olives”) by Ludwig van Beethoven, and the “Hallelujah Chorus” by G.F. Handel.

“The whole purpose of music in the church is to help people know, find and communicate with God,” Keith said. “If we were able to do that [through the concert] … then that music served its purpose.”

The concert, however, was just one highlight of the annual workshop. Speakers at the Feb. 17-19 workshop included Chuck Swindoll, Henry Blackaby and Esther Burroughs. And participants were able to sit in on sessions dealing with topics ranging from “How to Use Guitar Effectively in Today’s Worship” to “Pastors versus Staff: How to Make it Work.”

The varied workshop leaders “not only benefit the music majors and music ministers but the general pastoral ministerial staff of the church,” said Charles Darus, a conference participant who is working toward a Master of Arts degree in church music at Southwestern.

Russell Atherton, a Southwestern alumnus and first-time participant in the workshop, agreed. Atherton, who serves in several areas of ministry at First Baptist Church in Manchester, Conn., noted the quality speakers at the workshop.

“It’s phenomenal that they’re able to bring the speakers that they do,” he said. “I’m just surrounded by so many people who are excellent at what they do.”

Mark Strebeck, pastor and minister of music at First Baptist Church in Lavon, Texas, said the workshop provided him with a unique opportunity to “network, to see what other people are doing.”

Participants in the workshop also were able to join together for worship on Friday night. A special conference concert concluded the weekend on Saturday, including a conference choir, hand bells and orchestra.

“It’s always thrilling when you feel that people ultimately become better collectively than they could ever be individually,” Keith said of musicians as they joined their talents in praise to God.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: SOUTHWESTERN GALA.

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