The lights dimmed, the instruments began tuning and the crowd went silent.
In the span of moments, Redigar Auditorium’s atmosphere changed from boisterous socialization to silent anticipation for Taylor’s 2023 Homecoming Concert.
The night began with Taylor University’s Wind Ensemble conducted by Christopher Bade, professor of music and leader of Orchestra and Wind Ensemble.
As the night continued, family, friends and students heard multiple solos along with arrangements from Taylor’s Chorale, Symphony Orchestra, Jazz Ensemble, Women’s Chorus, Taylor Sounds and Lyric Theater.
“We wanted to put every group up in front of the parents and the community if we could,” Bade said.
Bade directed pieces for the Symphony Orchestra including “March”, “Fantasia on the ‘Dargason’” and Emperor Waltzes, Op. 425 excerpts.
Bade loved to see the response of the parents watching their children perform. He said the performance was wonderful and perfect in that it was a musical offering to the Lord.
In between acts, Tracy Manning, assistant professor of theater arts and managing and artistic director of theater, gave the audience brief histories of the songs and important background information. Her words led the audience to consider the art that they were listening to on a deeper level.
Reed Spencer, department co-chair and associate professor of music and leader of choral ensembles, crafted a selection of songs for Taylor’s Chorale from a pool of 15 songs they accumulated during their trip to Chicago.
“Tonight we chose songs that I thought would fit with the program well, that would encourage people (and) that would make them think deeply about the words and feel close to God,” Spencer said.
Spencer was blown away by the number of people who attended. It was the fullest Homecoming concert he had seen in his five years of directing choral. He loved the energy it brought into the room.
Sophomore Anna Jones, public relations major and applied vocal music minor, said that the response from the crowd was overwhelming.
“It’s always joyous,” Jones said. “And, you know, the response is not what we look for. We don’t look for praise in this group. We sing to an audience of one. And so regardless of how it goes, it’s always an honor and always a pleasure to perform in front of Taylor people.”
Jones sang the solo “Chanson Triste” in French which translates to “Song of Sadness.” However, Jones noted that the song is not about sadness but love. It is about a woman calling out to her lover, saying that all her sorrow flies away when she is with him.
Freshman Karlee Johnson, multimedia journalism major, said the concert was really good. She enjoyed seeing the different mediums of art and especially appreciated Taylor’s Chorale. Seeing the joy in their faces made her happy. It was evident that they were having a good time, Johnson said.
“[It was inspiring] seeing how well they use their talents for the Lord,” Johnson said. “Especially in the worship songs and that kind of thing, how they were singing to praise the Lord. And it was really inspiring to see how they’re using their talents to glorify God and doing it together. It’s really exciting. And really, you know, made me happy.”
The night closed with a beautiful performance from dancers Melayna Borg, Ella Curry and Natalie Schmitt, accompanied by the chorale.