Hymn Festival delights in its 13th year

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Corban’s annual celebration of music and spoken word came to life during the 13th annual Hymn Festival on Feb. 28 and March 1.

The festival featured students from Corban’s Concert Choir, band and Symphony Orchestra as well as readings by Corban faculty, all centered on the theme “Worthy is the Lamb.”

The program started with hymns oriented toward praise for what Jesus Christ has done in our lives, followed by hymns of contemplation. This was followed by music that spoke to the crucifixion of Jesus and ended with the triumphant hymn “How Great Thou Art.”

This year, music major Amy Griffith arranged music for the classic hymn “Crown Him with Many Crowns,” the first time in festival history a student has arranged a song. She started the process in spring 2012, but had to take time off to drive a combine harvester at her family’s farm that summer.

“I’ve written other pieces, but never for that big of an ensemble and it was scary,” she said. “You can think of ideas in the fields, but it is important for me to actually hear what is being played.” Once the current school year started, she spent many hours using computer software and other tools to perfect the sound she was looking for. However, it wasn’t until the actual performance on Feb. 28 that she would know what it truly sounded like.

“When everything actually came together, all I could think is wow,” she said. “It was a very exciting feeling.”

Former Corban music professor Virginia Cross, D.M.A., started the Hymn Festival in 2000. Her love of hymns, especially those from the 1800s, took her to festivals across the nation. In 2006, Assistant Professor of Music John Bartsch, started planning and arranging compositions for the festival. Nearly 100 students were involved an all aspects of the program.

I’ve wanted to put on a festival centered around “Worthy is the Lamb” for a number of years,” Bartsch said. “There are many songs out now that incorporate that phrase into their lyrics and it is powerful when you dissect what it really means.”

  • The 13th Annual Hymn Festival filled Salem First Presbyterian Church with people and music.

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