Arts Festival Gives Musical Reminder

April 08, 2020 | Church | Heidi Baumgartner

One day before the coronavirus hit local attention, more than 500 student musicians from the Pacific Northwest wrapped up the Washington Conference Arts Festival. This gathering would be one of the last occasions before Adventist schools transitioned to a time of distance learning.

“We are grateful with such a large gathering that everyone was healthy and no one became ill,” says Michelle Wachter, Washington Conference associate superintendent and event host.

The Arts Festival, themed “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” gave creative expression to students through choir, orchestra, band, handbells, drama and art. Concert selections like “This Is My Father’s World,” “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” “How Great Thou Art” and “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing” provided a musical foundation for the experiences students and families would start discovering less than a week later.

“Music is a comfort in times of stress,” says Melia Williams, Auburn Adventist Academy chorale director and clinician. “You notice on Facebook. People in Italy are singing together. Elsewhere there are monologue contests, Zoom concerts and Broadway performances from home. The arts are exploding, trying to help people. We do know God has the whole world in His hands, and music and arts are some of the coping tools.”

Williams continues, “Music doesn’t give immediate gratification. It takes time to learn and practice music. Sometimes things in life take longer, and we don’t have immediate answers. The arts really instill the concept that the process isn’t quick. It is possible to do difficult tasks, to break it up in small pieces, to not give up and to keep trying.”

In addition to musical rehearsals and performances, students also had a service opportunity to package backpacks for World Vision. “Our World Vision rep told me that it would be a stretch for our students to fill 4,000 backpacks in 90 minutes,” says Gayle Lasher, service project coordinator. “I told the students about this, and 214 students and 40 chaperones packaged all 4,000 backpacks in 32 minutes. They also ate nearly 300 thank-you donuts in 30 seconds.”

“With everything we do as educators and parents, we seek to instill our children with whole-person life values,” says Craig Mattson, Washington Conference vice president for education. “We want our scholars to understand that they are part of something bigger than themselves, to make music throughout life’s circumstances and to live a life of service to others.”

Watch a highlight video from Arts Festival.