Making a Joyful, Socially Distant Noise

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virtual choir and orchestra

You may have seen BJU’s virtual choir and orchestra’s performance of “In Christ Alone” floating around the internet after its premiere during President Steve Pettit’s State of the University Address on May 8.

Over 100 students submitted videos after a call for entries went out over social media. Matt Steel of BJU’s Audio Services — or the “maestro of the mixing board” as Dr. Michael Moore, chair of the Division of Music, calls him — and Doug Manor of Manor Media Productions compiled the videos into one heartwarming piece.

See Also: Virtual Choir and Orchestra Sing ‘In Christ Alone’

“I think this time has taught us something about ourselves as image bearers,” says Moore. “I think we’re finding ourselves turning to music and the arts and longing for those things, or at least having a new awareness of their importance and how they nourish our souls and how experiencing these things in community is something that we’ll probably treasure even more once this is all over.”

The Division of Music, with all of BJU, scrambled to adjust curriculum after Dr. Pettit announced the transition to online classes on March 30. But unlike many other divisions, music faculty had the added challenge of one-on-one instrument instruction, which can’t be taught through the written word. Through the use of technology, Moore says, “they overcame some unique and additional obstacles in a way that showed a lot of dedication and love for their students.”

Many have been using music to process this bizarre time in our history and to encourage others as well. BJU’s community is no exception. In addition to the virtual choir, several faculty and retirees have posted music videos.

  • Kenon Renfrow, current BJU music faculty, has posted his own arrangements of hymns, Broadway tunes and Disney songs.
  • Laura Brundage, current BJU music faculty, has launched the Greenville Virtual Choir Project with her husband Dr. Steven Brundage (also BJU alumnus, class of 2009) in conjunction with the Greenville Youth Chorale. They performed the song “A Million Dreams” for their first project, and they are working on a second song to produce in June.
  • Lance Flower, retired music faculty, created music videos of sacred hymn arrangements for piano for his church’s Youtube channel.

Several students and alumni have also produced music videos. Here are just a few.

  • Jacob Frank (Class of 2006) has been creating violin covers of favorite hymns.
  • Eric and Heidi Jean Rea (Class of 2006 and 2003) have published a series of Facebook videos they’ve dubbed “COVIDsongs.”
  • Rachel Huffman (Class of 2005) has done piano covers of classic pieces and original hymn arrangements.
  • Marissa VanDeusen (Class of 2011) and her husband Kyle have sung many hymns and gospel songs and posted on Facebook.
  • Phil Woodhull (Class of 2007) has performed several Bach pieces on his mandolin and has also done a collab with Jacob Frank on “Amazing Grace.”
  • Molly Ijames (Class of 2000) did a virtual sacred piano concert via Facebook live.
  • Dave Cone (Class of 2007) has posted several family hymn sings and solo piano performances on his Facebook page.