Certain aspects of a community bind it together. One is music. Leadership in BJU’s Division of Music has made strides to reach the Greenville area through programs designed with the community in mind.
Community Music Program
BJU has expanded its partnership with Piano Central Studios to offer a new music program called PCS Music Artistry at BJU. Students of all ages register at music.bju.edu for group or private piano, voice, band instrument and orchestral instrument lessons that are taught by BJU music faculty.
BJU students enrolled in Entrepreneurial Musician Seminar and Internship are connected with local arts organizations. They learn real-world applications for their music degree, applications that make a “connection to career and workplace,” according to Michael Moore, chair of the Division of Music.
“(Internships are) good hands-on learning,” Moore said. Some of the real-life skills students learn include arts advocacy, organizing volunteers, marketing and customer relations, depending on where the student is placed. “We’re connecting our students with local arts organizations, both music industry/business and nonprofit organizations, that will provide our students with some excellent experiential learning and allow them to see career opportunities up close and in a direct way,” Moore added.
Ensembles in Residence
Perhaps the most impactful way BJU is involved with the community is through the ensembles in residence, which is in its second year. These ensembles—the Greenville Concert Band and Rivertree Singers—consist of members of the community as well as BJU faculty, staff and students.
The Greenville Concert Band
The Greenville Concert Band, which was formed in 1933, invited Dr. Dan Turner to be its music director and principal conductor two years ago. At the time, Turner was the director of bands at BJU. The GCB was meeting in a local middle school and was quickly outgrowing the space. The Division of Music leadership saw an opportunity to build a relationship and last year offered to let the GCB rehearse on campus and be an ensemble in residence. Since that time, the band has doubled in size.
Through his involvement with the GCB, Turner and others have had the opportunity to share the love of Christ. From praying for band members dealing with cancer or loss of loved ones to having a testimony of excellence, the Division of Music has impacted the community. Turner said, “God has opened … doors of witness as a number of Greenville area, really fine musicians who are former students, have now joined GCB and are now really making an impact in the group—and their fine musicianship, loving attitudes and personal character are sermons in themselves. God is opening hearts and minds as we go, because music is the language of the heart.”
Rivertree Singers is in the 10th year as an organization, but the second as a BJU ensemble in residence. Led by Dr. Warren Cook—BJU’s director of choral activities—the choir is comprised of alumni of collegiate choral groups. Rivertree performs four concerts a year and hosts the three-day Rivertree Singers & Friends Choral Festival every June.
Both ensembles perform on the BJU campus as well as in other venues. Rivertree Singers have two upcoming concerts in War Memorial Chapel: The Music of Love, Feb. 15, 2020; and Mozart Requiem (in concert with the BJU Chamber Singers), May 2, 2020. See the Rivertree Singers’ full schedule on its website. The Greenville Concert Band will be playing at the gazebo on May 9, 2020. The GCB’s full schedule is also available on its website.
The partnership with the two ensembles benefits all involved. According to Moore, “Both of these ensembles provide internship opportunities for our students that are connected to their curricular programs. … It’s really helpful for them to … see what a thriving arts organization looks like, how it’s operated. And also just the experience of making music with people from the community. Many of them are doctors or engineers, veterans, stay-at-home parents, teachers, and it’s so important for our students to see how valuable music is to people from a diverse cross-section of the workforce and how valuable music remains to people throughout their lives. … Music is something that stays with you. … (These people are) making music because they love to make music. That really is the best kind of music-making, I think.”