FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – The Gala Concert of Sacred Music, held on Feb. 18, showcased the musical talents of Southwesterners and their professors—one of many enjoyable elements of the evening.
Southwestern’s Gala concert, in its seventh year, was held this year on campus in Truett Auditorium. A custom-built Wegner acoustical shell was installed on the stage roughly a week before, dramatically enriching the sound of Southwestern Seminary’s Master Chorale and orchestra.
Stephen Johnson’s commissioned piece, Libera Me, was a highlight of the night in both performance and composition. Accompanying the narrative of a rich baritone, performed by Southwestern Seminary voice professor David Robinson, the 60-piece orchestra and 90-person chorale ebbed and swelled around the Psalmic theme of God’s redemption and restoration, given to those who cry out to Him in their times of need.
Johnson, who serves as the dean of Southwestern’s School of Church Music, took a moment before the piece’s performance to share how restoration and redemption comes through placing our faith in Jesus Christ to save us from our sins. This hope is reflected in Libera Me, Johnson said.
Professional bass-baritone Jeffrey Wells, a principal artist with the New York Metropolitan Opera, was the honored guest for the evening. Gala conductor and Southwestern professor David Thye led Wells in medleys of beloved hymns (“There is a Redeemer;” “You’ll Never Walk Alone/It is Well With My Soul”) and classic selections from musicals (“Bring Him Home,” Les Miserables; “Toreador Song,” Carmen).
Southwestern student Christopher Lee (MM 2009) shared the baton after the intermission to direct Bob Krogstad’s arrangement for “You Raise Me Up.” The tenor for the piece was Lee’s fellow doctoral student John Cornish (MM 2009).
Anna Knight (BAM 2009) and Amber Von Ende Goddard (MM 2009) played the harp and flute, respectively, on “The Andantino” from Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp in C Major, said to be the only piece the composer ever wrote for the harp.
Southwestern President Paige Patterson took a moment of greeting near the beginning of the night to express his anticipation for the new chapel that will hold events such as the Gala as well as his gratitude to have the talented faculty and students who will perform in the new chapel once it is built.
A selection from Handel’s Messiah, “Hallelujah,” was the capstone performance for the evening.