Fall Music Festival celebrates collaboration and community

Aleasha Hintz —Staff Writer

Photo Credit: Dordt University Marketing and Communication Department

While the athletic teams of Dordt University ran, passed, and tacked in their respective sports during Defender Days weekend, the university’s musicians endured a marathon of singing and playing. On Friday, Oct. 15, the Campus-Community Band, Chamber Orchestra, Wind Symphony, Concert Choir, Chorale, Canons of Dordt, and Bella Voce all collaborated to showcase the abilities of the music program to visitors at the Fall Music Festival.

Throughout the entirety of the concert,  families and friends filled the B.J. Haan Auditorium to the brim. Some visitors spilled over into the bleachers in the loft. That evening, crying babies and jovial chattering echoed in the space.

  “My mom always loves being there,” Hannah Hansum, a member of the wind symphony, said, “For people that have family that live far away, I know they have said they enjoy [Defender Days] because it gives their family a reason to come,”.

Defender Days celebrates university alumni, students, families, and collaboration. The Fall Music Festival seeks to highlight it all. 

“You’re not going to sleep, but you’re going to leave with joy,” President Erik Hoekstra said about the weekend, just before praying over the concert. 

He was right. The concert did not end until well after 10:00 p.m. 

Photo Credit: Dordt University Marketing and Communication Department

The different instrumentalists joined together on a tuning note, then the concert began. The ensembles showcased various sounds, from the gentle, pining of the Chamber Orchestra to the high, melodic choruses from Bella Voce.

The selected songs did not carry an overarching theme, according to Hansum. Instead, they seemed to reveal the tastes of the conductors.

Before the intermission, the Wind Symphony performed “God of Our Fathers,” joined by Concert Choir and Chorale. The piece was highly collaborative, and band and orchestra director Onsby Rose and choral director Ryan Smit put their talents together to make it happen.

“It’s a true testament of what we are, and what we can provide for our students,” Rose said. The song was personal to Rose, as he used it to propose to his wife. Since then, a choral element has since been added to the song, and Rose was able to share something personal with the audience. 

The song was the last piece before intermission, and rightly so. The crowd cheered and whooped for the performance and gave a standing ovation. 

The theme of connection, though not explicitly found in the songs, was present for each of the conductors.

Carrie Groenewold, conductor of Bella Voce, brought a personal touch to the performance as well. The last song they performed was called “At the River.” Groenewold dedicated it to her father, who is recovering from cancer.

Ryan Smit, conductor of Canons, Chorale, and Concert Choir, wrote a song to be performed by the combined choirs. The song is inspired by Dordt University’s motto: “Soli Deo Gloria.” The motto is a Latin phrase, and is translated, “Glory to God alone.” Much like “God of Our Fathers,” “Soli Deo Gloria” received an standing ovation from the audience members. 

During the performance, the department introduced a new way for donors to interact directly with Dordt’s music program. The program has been dubbed the “Dordt Music Patrons,” and is a yearly donation with different sponsorship levels, furthering the department’s mission of sharing the gift of music in a way that glorifies God.

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