And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." Mark 16:15. It can be challenging to follow the prompting of this New Testament text due to cultural differences, language barriers, and a variety of other things. Nevertheless, the Department of Music at Southwestern Adventist University's goal is to share Christ's message through our Music with all we encounter worldwide.
In the first two weeks of May, 36 students and faculty traveled to central Italy to share Music and interact with Italian history and culture. This incredible opportunity offered students unforgettable experiences to learn, grow, and perform in inspiring places and for appreciative people.
One of the most memorable concerts of the tour was on the campus of Villa Aurora Adventist University in Florence. The stunning campus is surrounded by a park filled with trees and flowers at the top of a hill overlooking Florence, and our performance was in a beautiful ballroom in the campus's historic buildings. However, the opportunity to share a Vespers concert with people from around the world was even more impressive than the setting. At the end of each concert, our tradition is to interact with the audience members as a way to connect on a personal level. Many people expressed how inspired they were by the Music we shared, and it was incredibly moving for the student musicians to meet and connect with peers who appreciated their ministry.
Beautiful Music is not something that happens by accident. Southwestern's student musicians rehearse in their ensembles daily through the school year. Additionally, many of them attend sectionals and individual rehearsals. Each student dedicates themselves fully to attending rehearsals, participating in all performances, and, most importantly, understanding the Music personally. Professors always encourage the importance of expressing the depth and meaning of each piece by relating to it personally. Dr. Devon Howard, Chair of the Department of Music, shared that "Music becomes something much deeper as each person pours their individual hearts and faith into the act of corporate music making. That is ministry, and it is what makes Southwestern more than just a music school."
When not rehearsing or performing, students immersed themselves in Italian culture. From trying new foods to visiting beautiful historic places and attempting to learn a few words of Italian, new cultural experiences create a better understanding of people from all over the world. Students visited castles, hiked to ancient thermal pools, toured Vatican City, and swam in the Mediterranean Ocean. Junior Music Major Rebeca Lima reflected on the trip, "In traveling to Italy, I was gifted with a fantastic opportunity to experience its culture, history, food, and Music. Learning about the history of places such as Rome and Assisi, experiencing the beauty of the Tuscan valleys and cities, and performing in amazing spaces with dear friends and musicians are memories I will always hold in my heart!"
Southwestern Adventist University is a school that offers significant opportunities. Through the Department of Music, students work hard and learn together. However, they also get another level of experience and inspiration through travel locally and abroad. At the heart of everything is the belief that the pursuit of knowledge, faith, and service creates individuals who not only experience the world but are prepared to change it through service.