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You are the voice. We are the echo.
The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Monday, June 24, 2024
The Echo
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Taylor Sounds sings with artist Michael W. Smith in Sea Island

Group reflects on Vision Weekend trip to Georgia

The Taylor Sounds are grateful for the recent opportunity they had to travel to the coast of Georgia to perform for those present at Vision Weekend, put on by President Lindsay and the Taylor administration.

Reed Spencer, assistant professor of music and the director of Chorale and Sounds, accompanied the sixteen students as they made the fourteen-hour trek to Sea Island, Georgia.

They greatly enjoyed traveling the long distance together in vans and cars, which gave way to excellent conversation and group bonding.

The Sounds routinely rehearses each Tuesday and Thursday from 4:00-5:30, and in preparation for this event, the group’s five upperclassmen officers worked with Spencer to work out the itinerary and other logistics.

Junior Madeline Gerig sings with the Taylor Sounds as a Soprano 2.

When Gerig and her fellow Sounds members were told they would be leading worship at the event, along with performing the choral arrangements that are typically a part of the group’s repertoire, they were intrigued.

“The Sounds is a unique group in that I think they are able to transition between the two types of music,” Spencer said. “I think it’s really special for them to be able to show that they can do a contemporary style and then go into an eight-part choral piece that requires a different type of singing, and I think that was special for the guests there too.”

The Sounds is a multi-talented group; several students were able to showcase their musicianship by accompanying the worship sets with various instruments.

Gerig shared that the group was pleased with how everything went and is interested in implementing more of that kind of music in the future.

“It was fun to put together,” she said.

Taylor’s Chorale and Sounds often include sacred pieces in their repertoires. Considering a theme for the weekend, Spencer tried to choose songs that would be appropriate for each moment and setting. 

During communion, the group sang a piece inspired by the “nothing can separate us from the love of God” message found in Romans 8, which they have performed in many different places, including Pendleton Prison, where they traveled earlier this year.

This was Gerig’s favorite piece from the trip.

“I feel like that song always encourages me,” she said. “And yeah, we love sharing that one.”

Amidst the many highlights of the weekend, though, one stood out: the opportunity to sing background vocals for Michael W. Smith in an intimate concert setting.

Hearing Smith’s voice brought back fond memories for Spencer of his childhood days.

“It took me back to being eight years old because I grew up on his music and he was like my childhood hero,” Spencer said. “And so, hearing a lot of those older songs from the 90s, I felt like a kid again.”

Though Smith’s music likely was more familiar to the guests that, like Spencer, grew up in the 80s and 90s, the magnitude of the opportunity was not lost on the younger generation in attendance.

They were not only grateful for the chance to be doing what they love, performing alongside their close friends, but also to accompany someone with as much influence on the Christian music landscape as Michael W. Smith.

“Meeting [Smith] was so surreal,” Gerig said.

Ultimately, Spencer and the Sounds are honored to have been a part of the weekend, using their God-given skills to glorify the Lord and bless those who were listening.

The group is looking forward to many upcoming opportunities, including traveling to Ecuador on spring break in partnership with Arco Church and Taylor’s local connections in Cuenca and Quito. They are also looking forward to a collaboration with Orchestra Indiana on May 6, where they will perform a piece written by Dr. Spencer and student composer Ethan Watts, called “When Old Words Die Out.”

As they prepare for these events, the Sounds members are excited to continue the cultivation of a missional focus in faithful stewardship of their gifts. 

“We talk a lot about, recently, joining God where He’s already working,” Gerig said. “I think that that’s something we’re having a lot of that perspective of as we’re headed into Ecuador and just all the other things we’re doing this semester — just really trying to follow God with what we’re doing.”