In celebration of musical excellence at Southwestern Seminary, the School of Church Music hosted its 14th annual Gala concert, Feb. 25. The evening featured a variety of musical styles performed by the Southwestern Master Chorale, the Southwestern Singers, the Chapel Choir and the Southwestern Jazz Combo. The concert also highlighted special performances from the Southwestern International Children’s Choir, Southwestern International Singers, and individual student solo performances.

Each year, the School of Church Music recognizes one of its alumni who has exemplified outstanding merit in music and ministry. The 2017 “Alumnus of the Year” award was presented to Gary Moore, who has served in music ministry at Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, for 35 years following nine years of service at First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas.

Dean of the School of Church Music Leo Day recognized Moore’s impact on thousands of people through his creativity, music ministry, and a distinguished music career in which he has produced and directed more than a dozen musicals and composed hundreds of songs. “I want to thank you for being an amazing alumnus and for having a legacy of music and ministry that is done incredibly well,” Day said.

In addition, Day later recognized the career of Robert Smith, professor of piano and chair of the piano department, who will retire after 38 years of service at Southwestern. Day thanked Smith for dedicating nearly four decades to teaching and training a new generation of musicians and music ministers. The recognition included surprise performances from Smith’s wife, Lynda, and Mark Green, a Southwestern alumnus who studied under Smith while at the seminary.

The Gala also featured a special performance of the traditional “Salute to the Armed Forces,” a medley of anthems of the five branches of the armed forces. During the tribute, veterans and military members were welcomed with applause as they stood for the duration of each of their respective service songs.

Among the many performances that displayed students’ talents in composition, arrangement and singing was a solo performance from Bachelor of Music in Performance student Hannah Hodges. In a video preceding her performance of “Lied der Mignon” and “Per non penar,” she shared of the impact of the School of Church Music and her desire to honor the Lord through music.

“I love the people and I love this place. It is exactly where the Lord wanted me to be, and He led me to a great place,” Hodges said. “I want to use my gifts to glorify Him and praise Him.”