Festival Week Emphasizes Development

by   |  
High School Festival orchestra

On Nov. 4–7, BJU will host the 47th annual High School Festival & Preaching and Teaching Conference. Teens in grades 9–12 are invited to participate in individual or group contests. The week is packed with performances, concerts and the BJU experience.

High School Festival Competitions

Competitions represent major categories of the fine arts: Music, Art & Design, Speech & Drama, Video, and Preaching and Teaching.

With 10 individual and nine group events, Music is the biggest division of High School Festival. Instrumentalists and vocalists compete in both types of events. If participants need an accompanist or instrument for the festival, for a charge, BJU offers student accompanists and instrument rentals.

In the Art & Design division, students may submit a variety of artwork in 2D, 3D and Photography categories. Specific contests are listed on the Art & Design festival page.

Speech & Drama offers solo competitions in performance, original oratory and 24-hour playwriting. Groups can compete in acting.

In the Video division, individuals or groups have the opportunity to submit a 3 to 8-minute narrative, documentary or animated film.

In the Preaching and Teaching Conference, emphasis is on improving rather than winning a competition. Throughout the week, the men will receive coaching and attend workshops to improve their sermons on New Testament letters. When they first deliver their sermons on Tuesday, they are recorded so they can receive feedback to revise in preparation for their second delivery on Wednesday.

In the recently added teaching conference, the women learn to improve in teaching the Pauline epistles to other women. Similar to the men, they will benefit from coaching, feedback and workshops. And on the last day of the festival, both men and women can join a cookout with the School of Religion and Seminary faculty.

Rules and limitations are available for all competitions online.

Awards and Honors Concert

Once most competitions are complete, students receive awards. Along with trophies and plaques, awards for individual competition winners include a paid program fee for the first semester of freshman year at BJU, a full scholarship to attend an EDUcamp or a half scholarship to attend an EDUcamp of their choice. On the night of the awards assembly and the next morning, winners will perform an honors concert.

Winning gives a thrill, but the reality is that only a small percentage of students will win. “You still strive (to win), but that’s not the main value,” said Paul Jantz, director of musical activities and associate adjunct professor of trombone. David Orr, the Welcome Center manager said, “The biggest thing that we want the participants to leave with is an understanding of how they can improve and develop their talents.”

Experiencing BJU

During High School Festival, students get a taste of what life at BJU is like. “(The festival) gives them a chance to see and experience (people and places on campus),” said Jantz. They can stay in the residence halls and attend chapel. They can also learn more about BJU through campus tours and the event What’s Bruin’ at BJU, which features the University’s multimedia presentation and information about admission.

Interacting with BJU faculty is also a part of the festival. As their schedule allows, students can attend University classes on Wednesday and Thursday of the competition week. They can also sign up to observe or take private music lessons. All participants have some level of interaction with BJU faculty as their contest judges. “The students get some very helpful feedback from college professors, and that in itself is an experience that you can’t really get anywhere else,” Orr said.

At the Kaleidoscope Concert, students have the opportunity to observe BJU students of the Division of Music perform. “It’s a showcase performance of a lot of our music groups on campus in a very entertaining and kind of fast-paced format,” Orr said. “And that’s more or less an opportunity for prospective students to see what the quality of our music program is like.”


A highlight of the festival is the side-by-side experience. Festival participants have the opportunity to rehearse with BJU students in one of four groups that perform in the final festival concert:

  • Wind Band with the BJU Symphonic Wind Band, directed by Bruce Cox
  • Orchestra with the BJU Symphony Orchestra strings, directed by Michael Moore
  • Festival Singers with the University Singers, directed by Pattye Casarow
  • Concert Chorus with the Chorale, directed by Warren Cook (reserved for balanced quartets of SATB singers recommended by their director)

“I just know that anyone I have ever talked to that has done (the side-by-side) loves it. They think it’s really neat to be in these large groups,” Orr said.

“We ask for (players to have) some level of competency, … generally intermediate or advanced levels,” Jantz said.

Added Orr: “Hopefully the level of music that they are introduced to and are playing is going to be a notch up … (to) help broaden them through the experience. The High School Festival has a very packed schedule. But it is a week well worth experiencing.”