Music ensembles celebrate Reformation at Homecoming

The Homecoming Choral and Symphony Orchestra Concerts, which highlighted the Reformation, were great contributions to the success of Valpo Homecoming 2017.

Both of these concerts took place on Saturday, Sept. 30. The Valparaiso University Chorale, Women’s Choir, Men’s Ensemble, Bach Choir and Bach Orchestra performed first from 4 p.m. to around 5:30 p.m. Included in their set list was the debut of composer Jake Runestad’s “Into the Light,” which was commissioned by the university.

These music ensembles are composed of students from a wide range of majors, making the concert more personal for the community.

“I know a lot of the people in it, and it’s always really exciting to see your friends perform,” said Katarina Diepholz, junior English and French double major.

Starting with Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cantata 80: “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott,” there was strong theme of the Reformation woven throughout the entire concert.  

This was capstoned by Runestad’s piece, which contained inspiring messages filled with hope from renowned figures like Mahatma Ghandi, Peter the Apostle and John the Evangelist. Lines like “the only lightless dark is the night of ignorance” and “the soul is made of love and must ever return to love” show the message of hope that the world can grow and reform to become a more loving place.

To see this premiere of the song, Diepholz said, “It was really exciting, and it was really good.”

Adding to these beautiful pieces were the songs “Amazing Grace” and “Be Thou My Vision,” sung by the Men’s Ensemble and Women’s Choir respectively.

“I really liked all the mixtures of pieces,” said Luxianna Watkins, senior communication major. “There was a variety, and I like that.”

Later the same evening, the Symphony Orchestra had their Homecoming Concert, Cantus Firmus I, at 8:15 p.m. The pieces performed were all variations of popular melodies that gave the songs a familiar, yet sophisticated, sound to them.

Not only was this a concert for Homecoming visitors to see how the orchestra is performing now, but it was also a chance for family members to see their loved ones perform. For people like Valparaiso native Stewart McMillan, who said he was there mainly to see the cello player, it afforded parents the chance to see the first performance of the year.

These groups had been preparing for these concerts since the beginning of the school year and were able to showcase their efforts this past weekend. In a few weeks, Chorale will be traveling to Germany to perform some of the same pieces at the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. It’s for this celebration that Runestad created his masterpiece, “Into the Light.”

Anyone who was in attendance on Saturday had the opportunity to hear the piece in its world premiere, as various music ensembles came together to performs the song in the Chapel of the Resurrection.

Valparaiso University’s music ensembles are such a fantastic contribution to the campus environment, and their music brings so much talent and joy to the community.

“I loved it,” Watkins said. “I love music, and I think I love the school most when I’m watching concerts.”

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