Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Play Today, gone tomorrow

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Graduand’s parting gift a published song

Brenton Stacey
Public relations officer
Avondale College of Higher Education
Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

Ben Milis’s grandmother bought him the first in the Play Today praise and worship series for Christmas in 2005.

Ben Milis and Lyell Heise play Ben’s song, “Worthy,” from the new Play Today 5. Credit: Brenton Stacey.

Ben Milis and Lyell Heise play Ben’s song, “Worthy,” from the new Play Today 5.
Credit: Brenton Stacey.

The arts and teaching graduand, only 14 at the time, had seen the book on display earlier in the year. “I thought, That looks awesome. I could not wait to open it.” Play Today 5 now includes one of Ben’s songs.

“Worthy” is one of 15 in an expanded list of songs, three of which are by new composers—Jason Cook and Lisa Holland won the Institute of Worship Prize at the Manifest Creative Arts Festival in 2012 and Marian Moroney is an assistant to the director of the institute.

Dr Lyell Heise, a senior lecturer in the School of Ministry and Theology at Avondale College of Higher Education, and Valmai Hill, a piano teacher, coordinated production of the book in their roles as director and as assistant to the director of the institute. They do so to give young piano players the confidence and motivation to participate in the praise and worship at their local church.

“But we still give more experienced players enough room to improvise,” says Ben. He should know—he helped arrange and typeset some of the songs.

Play Today 5 launches in Ladies Chapel this Saturday (December 7) from 4 pm.

Reading in community

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Signs To Life: Reading and Responding To John’s Gospel

Dr Bruce Manners
Senior minister
Lilydale Seventh-day Adventist Church

Signs To Life: Reading and Responding To John’s Gospel (Signs Publishing Company) is fascinating. It recognises and encourages readers to bring their own background and understanding to add meaning to the Bible book.

This sounds similar to literary theorist Tzvetan Todorov’s suggestion that text is a picnic where the author brings the words and the reader brings the meaning. The writers of Signs To Life would disagree and say, “It is based on the conviction that we understand Scripture best when we invite others to ‘sit beside’ us and read together in community” (page 139).

Kendra Haloviak Valentine has based her seven chapters on a series of sermons about the seven signs found in the first 11 chapters of John (if you’ve heard her preach, you can “hear” her voice as you read).

Kendra, who teaches New Testament at La Sierra University (Riverside, California USA), is a gifted communicator who brings insight to these passages. She draws from the Old and the New Testaments and from original languages to give deeper understanding.

Part two of the book has four writers “responding” in a chapter each. They don’t respond to what Kendra has written but rather to the challenge of bringing their own reading to the gospel.

Three of them work at Avondale College of Higher Education. Dr Carolyn Rickett writes from her background in literature and communication, Associate Professor Daniel Reynaud teaches the Bible as literature and Professor Jane Fernandez takes what she calls a text-based approach. Nathan Brown, book editor for Signs Publishing Company, writes as a “student of stories and storytelling.” What they do well is demonstrate the added depth possible from this approach.

Signs To Life ends with an invitation to “sit beside” the writers to read John further together—in community.

Fascinating. Worth reading.

Signs To Life is available from Adventist Book Centres for $19.95.

Bruce is a former editor-in-chief at Signs Publishing Company.

Links

Community-minded scholars bring gospel to life

Conservatorium coming to Avondale

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Music program rebrands

Avondale College of Higher Education will acknowledge the quality of its students by launching a rebranding of its music program at Homecoming this year.

New Avondale Conservatorium director Aleta King with Master of Arts (Research) student Dell Lawrence and casual academic Melissa Rogers.
Credit: Colin Chuang.

The Homecoming concert, War and Peace, a performance of Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace, will be the first presented by the Avondale Conservatorium.

“Music has played a prominent role in campus life and continues to support the profile of Avondale,” says music strand convenor Aleta King, the director of the conservatorium. “The Avondale Conservatorium will build on this profile.”

The arts has been part of the curriculum at Avondale since 1897, the year of its founding. The first teacher, Herbert Lacey, studied classical music at Battle Creek College (Michigan, USA). The music program has continued to grow, with Avondale introducing a music major in arts in 2001.

But this emphasis on study does not adequately describe the nature of the music program, says Aleta. She is referring to events such as the Avondale Concert Series, which includes the meditative and reflective music program, Evensong, and to last year’s Homecoming concert, Music for Royal Occasions, which filled Avondale College Seventh-day Adventist Church. “The name, Avondale Conservatorium, is more inclusive and emphasises the cohesiveness of our program.”

War and Peace will include a dedication ceremony for the conservatorium. It will also feature Avondale Chamber Orchestra, which will combine with Dr Lyell Heise’s Institute of Worship Orchestra, and vocal ensembles Avondale Singers and The Promise. The two newest ensembles, Avondale Jazz Ensemble and Avondale Guitar Ensemble, will provide support. The concert is free although a freewill offering will be collected.

War and Peace, Avondale College Seventh-day Adventist Church, Saturday, August 24, 2013, 7.00 PM

New Promise on show

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Launch to unite current and former members of vocal ensemble

The launch of the third album from an Avondale vocal ensemble will unite current and former members in a free concert this Saturday (May 25).

The recording of The Promise’s Give Thanks late last year served as an acclaimed swan song for five members—Clansi Rogers, who has reviewed the previous two albums, describes Gives Thanks as a “noticeable step up” and proof of “an evolving and maturing musical ensemble.” However, it is the five’s replacements, plus two alumna and a new member, who are now performing the album’s repertoire.

New Promise members Joshua Page and Dat Nguyen rehearse for the album launch.
Credit: Ashlee King.

The new Promise—Jordan Cassie, Luke Fotheringham, Kimberley Jones, Dat Nguyen, Joshua Page and Dayna Petrie join alto Emily Thomas and soprano Laura Hill in continuing the tradition of musical excellence—has already performed at Australia’s largest Christian music festival, Easterfest, and at the annual camp meeting of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Greater Sydney.

The Promise, founded in 2005, produced its self-titled debut album in 2006. The ensemble signed with Psalter Music in 2010, the partnership producing the albums Faithful in 2011 and Give Thanks this year, the latter under the directorship of Avondale’s new music strand coordinator Aleta King. Her decision to record Give Thanks in the acoustically friendly chapel at Morisset Hospital gives a fuller sound to the vocals. Producer and engineer Dale Willis minimised any editing of the album’s 13 tracks to preserve its musical integrity.

Two of the tracks are originals—“O Give Thanks,” written by Aleta, and “My Yes,” written by Emily and former soprano Jana Aveling with friend Kate Hollingsworth. Former tenor Benjamin Milis and former bass Ezekiel Kingston arranged another, “Day by Day,” with Aleta. A fourth, “For the Beauty of the Earth/This is my Father’s World,” is an arrangement of Avondale Jazz Ensemble director David Pudney.

The launch of Give Thanks, in Avondale College Seventh-day Adventist Church from 6.00 PM, will feature performances by all members of the 2012 and 2013 ensembles and collaborations between the two. Entry is free. Drinks will be available in the foyer from 5.30 PM. Albums will be available at a launch-only price of $15 ($10 for Avondale students).

High point for hymns

Thursday, November 8, 2012

New venue and popular compere deliver big audience

Brenton Stacey
Public relations officer
Avondale College of Higher Education
Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

Tenor Alberta Mataafa. Credit: Ann Stafford.
Tenor Alberta Mataafa. Credit: Ann Stafford.
Dr Lyell Heise conducts the Institute of Worship Orchestra. Credit: Ann Stafford.
Dr Lyell Heise conducts the Institute of Worship Orchestra. Credit: Ann Stafford.
Benjamin Milis on the podium. Credit: Ann Stafford.
Benjamin Milis on the podium. Credit: Ann Stafford.
Compere Geraldine Doogue. Credit: Ann Stafford.
Compere Geraldine Doogue. Credit: Ann Stafford.
Technical director Paul Woodward on trombone. Credit: Ann Stafford.
Technical director Paul Woodward on trombone. Credit: Ann Stafford.
NextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnailNextGen ScrollGallery thumbnail

A neutral venue and the appeal of a popular journalist and broadcaster has delivered a music program produced by an Avondale lecturer its biggest audience.

About 1000 people attended Hymns and Songs of Praise at Panthers Newcastle on Saturday (November 3). While the program has an eight-year history at Avondale College of Higher Education, musical director Dr Lyell Heise, also a senior lecturer in the School of Ministry and Theology at Avondale, moved it to reach a new audience. He also collaborated for the first time with the Seventh-day Adventist Church in northern New South Wales.

“Hymns and Songs in a leagues club—that’s Newcastle,” says the church’s president, Pr Justin Lawman, who recommended the venue. “It’s a working-class city, so we needed a working class venue.” Justin describes Hymns and Songs as making “an important statement.” “It builds so many bridges with members of the community—they get to know us for who we are rather than just for what we believe.”

Inviting Geraldine Doogue, host of the religious program Compass on ABC TV and the political program Saturday Extra on ABC Radio National, to compere also sent a message. “One of mutual validation,” says Lyell, who co-produced the concert with Valmai Hill in their roles as director and assistant to the director of the church in the South Pacific’s Institute of Worship.

The program featured traditional and contemporary music, “from hymns by the prolific Isaac Watts to songs by the prolific Chris Tomlin,” says Lyell. The 50-piece Institute of Worship Orchestra provided the accompaniment for the congregational singing and for Avondale vocal ensembles Avondale Singers, the Contemporary Choir and The Promise, soprano Marian Maroney and tenor Albert Mataafa.

Lyell also vacated the podium during the program for three other conductors—Aleta King, the music strand convenor at Avondale, Benjamin Milis, a music specialisation student at Avondale, and Daniel Brinsmead, a young alumnus of Australian National University’s School of Music. The world premiere performance of his arrangement of an orchestral score of “We Shall Behold Him” added to the song’s poignancy. The performance featured Benjamin on piano.

This song and another—”As The Deer,” featuring children Maegen and Georgia Craig on piano and Zara and Jayden Lynch on violin and cello—are examples of the institute’s “conscious attempt to mentor the next generation of leaders and musicians,” says Lyell. “We’re keen to stand as an interpreter of the past to help children and young adults better understand their heritage and as an interpreter of the future to reassure older adults it’s possible to be thoroughly Adventist, throughly contemporary and thoroughly relevant.”—with Adele Nash, personal assistant, communications, marketing and public relations, Seventh-day Adventist Church in northern New South Wales

Provocateurs

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Play to question role of Christianity

Kaitlyn Betts
Bachelor of Arts student
Avondale College of Higher Education
Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

It is 1958 in Oxford, England, and Professor C S Lewis, has summoned his most promising protégé into his study. The student is disillusioned—the future seems increasingly unsure and meaningless has abounded in life. Where or to what can he turn?

David Robertson as C S Lewis and Michael Taylor as the professor’s most promising protégé in a scene from Questioning Aslan.

“Atheism fails him, and he doesn’t think the childish Christianity of Lewis will do much better,” says David Robinson, co-founder of Searchlight Theatre Company, which is bringing its production of a play inspired by the life of the Irish-born scholar, novelist, and author to Avondale College of Higher Education this Friday (October 12). “The professor must convince him otherwise.”

David hopes Questioning Aslan, written by former Oxford student Nigel Forde, will generate discussion about whether Christianity “deserves to be heard in the arena of logical debate. Lewis argues it is logical; not necessarily rational but worthy of serious consideration.”

Lewis wrote about 40 books, most on Christian apologetics—he is perhaps best known for The Screwtape Letters and the Chronicles of Narnia, a series of seven children’s books that are classics of fantasy literature. David describes this body of work as “stunning,” adding that Lewis is “an incredible mind put to such great use.”

“His struggle with his faith gives hope to us all,” he says. “He didn’t apologise for doubting and questioning. This allowed him to go deeper and, as a result, he immersed himself in his faith.”

Searchlight began touring Questioning Aslan in the United States in February. It has since taken the production to Canada, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. The performance at Avondale is the first on the Australian leg of the tour.

Avondale alumnus Pr Michael Dabson helped bring Searchlight back to campus—David and co-founder Michael Taylor performed with another company, Saltmine, as support for bestselling Christian author Philip Yancey in 2007. “Searchlight brings great depth and quality to religious drama,” he says.

Friday, October 12

Questioning Aslan: An Evening With C S Lewis
7.30 PM, Avondale College Seventh-day Adventist Church
Avondale College of Higher Education and Searchlight Theatre Company present Questioning Aslan: An Evening With C S Lewis. $10 (single); $30 (family—includes two adults and any number of children 18 years and under); free (Avondale College of Higher Education students with student ID card). Tickets available from the Avondale Online Store. www.avondale.edu.au/events.

A Kenyan adventure

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Student’s art gives voice to the impoverished

Sonja Larsen
Communications coordinator
Asian Aid Australia
Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

These paintings form part of Vanessa Reynolds’s Kisarro exhibition. Kisarro is Maasai for “rescuer.” Credit: Luke Fernandez.

Vanessa Reynolds is determined not to be silent.

The international poverty and development studies major at Avondale College of Higher Education spent a year volunteering in Kenya between 2009 and 2010. The African adventure continued on return to Australia with Vanessa putting brush to canvas to share not only her own experiences, but also those of the people who she met.

The abstract paintings form Vanessa’s first solo exhibition, Kisarro, which the Ground Up Espresso cafe in Carrington, Newcastle, has been hosting over the past month. Kisarro is Maasai for “rescuer.” The five-month project reflects Vanessa’s compassion for the marginalised and her desire to raise awareness of social justice.

One of the most popular paintings in the exhibition: Kibera Track, which uses the doors on a slum school to represent how education is one way out of poverty. “I want to provide opportunities for voices of poverty to be heard and to share the joy of the positive things happening in Kenya,” says Vanessa.

 

Minor key

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hinsdale Men’s Chorus
Avondale College Seventh-day Adventist Church, May 5, 2012

Dell Lawrence
Master of Arts (Research) student
Avondale College of Higher Education

Hinsdale Men’s Chorus. Credit: Lagani Gairo.

Hinsdale Men’s Chorus travelled from Chicago, USA, for its tour of Australia. Considering distanced travelled, expectations were high.

But the delivery lacked passion and a difference in dynamics—perhaps understandable; half the ensemble felt ill.

The audience enjoyed the songs, though, even applauding after one. I found the “Hallelujahs” of “Majesty and Glory” uplifting. The key? Conviction.

 

Variety hour

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Evensong
Brandstater Amphitheatre, March 10, 2012

Brenton Stacey
Public relations officer
Avondale College of Higher Education
Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

The year’s first Evensong had a touch of variety hour about it—four artists and a few rough edges.

The Promise performs “Prayer of the Children” at Evensong. The song is a tribute to children of the Bosnian War. Andrea Kuburic (centre) is one of those children. Credit: Brenton Stacey.

The Promise headlined, although the vocal ensemble’s opening set lacked punch—partly because of the venue and a soft sound mix.

Serimelor Hoffman’s performance—accompanied by Vanessa Lynch on flute, Tim Turner on piano and Justin Watson on acoustic guitar—of “Jesus Lover Of My Soul:” solid.

And credit to Justin and Tim for performing their own song and recovering quickly from a “lyric malfunction.”

Associate Professor Daniel Reynaud, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Theology, contributed two items, one his own. The blend of voices—joining Daniel were wife Emi and niece Breane Grange—on John Michael Talbot’s “Magnificat (Holy Is His Name):” seamless.

The highlight: The Promise’s “Prayer of the Children.” The song, a tribute to children of the Bosnian War, is moving, all the more so when introduced by one of those children—assistant director and mezzo soprano Andrea Kuburic.