2023 Great Lakes Music Festival

On January 26-28, the Music Department welcomed high school students across the country to make music at MBU’s annual Great Lakes Music Festival.

Hosted every year, Great Lakes Music Festival provides high school students the opportunity to experience a weekend on a college campus, to hone their musical skills, and to create memories and friendships. In preparation for this festival, both faculty and students carefully planned and practiced for the highly anticipated weekend.

The day before the festival began, many visitors engaged in the first event of the week, a piano scholarship blind competition. The competition provides advanced pianists grades 9-12 the opportunity to showcase their performance skills and win cash prizes, MBU scholarships, and honor ratings. After careful deliberation, the adjudicators awarded Abigail Boorujy first place, a cash award of $300, and a $3,500 MBU scholarship.

On Friday, all of the high school attendees joined together in rehearsing 3 pieces as a festival chorus with MBU’s Chamber Singers. They each attended a track of their choosing: band, orchestra, piano, men’s chorus, and ladies’ chorus. Besides the musical involvement, attendees also participated in the college experience by eating in the Dining Complex and by sharing dorm rooms with Maranatha students.

On Friday evening, piano track members attended one of two workshops where faculty members explained aspects of performing and composing music. In “Making Music Magical,” Janet Tschida encouraged participants that anyone can play beautifully and shared musicianship principles that could transform their playing when applied. In “Setting Poetry or Scripture Fragments to Music,” Dr. David Ledgerwood imparted ideas from the famed Alice Parker that formed a system for setting poetry and scripture to music and that inspired students to use this system to create their own music.

The following morning, visitors practiced in their groups for a final time before the technical rehearsal. At 1:30, the concert began in the Gymnasium. This year’s theme, “Heroes and Legends,” appeared throughout the song selections which were based upon biblical heroes like King David, fictional heroes like Robin Hood, and historical heroes like Paul Revere.

To start the show, the band presented their pieces under the direction of Dr. David Brown and Andrew Bonnema. They performed “Colonel Bogey March,” arranged by Glover, and “Robin Hood,” arranged by Debs. Emily Boorujy, a band track member, recounted, “I had a lot of fun playing my instrument in a powerful horn section, meeting new people, and singing in the festival choir. It was a whirlwind of a weekend filled with music, laughter, and fun.”

Next, the piano players divided into their groups and played their ensemble pieces. First, Dr. David Ledgerwood’s group played a riveting piece called “Perpetual Commotion” by Olson. Next, Janet Tschida’s group performed an entertaining rendition of “Only a Boy Named David” arranged by MBU student Caelyn Meier. Charity Schmitz’s group played a catchy version “Railroad Heroes,” which was comprised of traditional tunes arranged by MBU alumna Hope Reed. Finally, Alison Boorujy’s group played an advanced 8 hands arrangement of “All Hail the Power” arranged by Hamilton and Pinkston.

Continuing along in the program, Carol Ruffin led the ladies’ chorus with Emma Bateman at the piano. They performed three numbers: “Little David, Play on Your Harp,” “Nightingale,” and “The Ballad of Davy Crocket.” “The Ladies Chorus and Great Lakes in general was a wonderful experience,” said Great Lakes participant Talya Cederberg. “It was so cool to learn different music skills and make new friends at the same time!”

After a short break, the orchestra resumed the concert. Under the direction of Melody Steinbart, they performed Felix Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 5, Mvt. IV: “Reformation,” arranged by Leidig, and “Prairie Night and Celebration,” arranged by Hoffman.

Then, an offertory provided another opportunity to celebrate Thursday’s piano competition winner, Abigail Boorujy. While the ushers collected donations, Abigail played the fourth movement from one of her winning pieces Piano Sonata No. 1 by Ginastera. Her stunning performance impressed the audience just as it had impressed the judges two days before.

Following that, Peter Wright led the men’s chorus with the assistance of Timo DeLeon at the piano. They presented two hilarious pieces arranged by Wright called “Columbus” and “George Jones.” Also, they performed “Just the Same” by Jude.

For the grand finale, the Festival Chorus took the stage with Emma Bateman at the piano again led by three directors: Peter Wright, Dr. David Ledgerwood, and Dr. David Brown. First, they sang “Worthy is the Lamb,” composed by Choplin and based on Revelation 5:11-13. Next they sang “Soon Ah Will Be Done” by Dawson and closed with “America, the Beautiful,” arranged by Hayes. Melissa Morken, a mom who attended the concert, reflected, “hearing over 200 teenagers worshiping the Lord together with skill and sincerity was such a thrill!” The concert video will be available online for 3 months.

Before the closing piece, Dr. Brown recognized David Ledgerwood for his 37 years at Maranatha. While stepping down from his full-time role as department chair, Dr. Ledgerwood will stay on as a part-time faculty member. To thank him for his years of dedication and service, everyone in the packed auditorium rose from their seats and applauded. Dr. Brown even wove in the Great Lakes theme, commending Mrs. Ledgerwood as a “Hero” and Dr. Ledgerwood as a “Legend.”

With the end of the concert, this year’s Great Lakes Music Festival reached a successful close. If you wish to participate in a group with like-minded musicians, broaden your musical knowledge and experience, and make new friends and memories like this year’s visitors have, Maranatha would love to see you at next year’s festival on January 26-27, 2024. The theme will be “A Musical Kaleidoscope,” and registration will begin this November at mbu.edu/glmf.

“The opportunities to challenge myself and play with more advanced musicians makes Great Lakes band a highlight of my year!” said Mary Ann Lazzell. “New friends were made, new music was learned, and way too much fun was had—all in 26 hours! Can’t wait for next year!”