New venue and popular compere deliver big audience
Public relations officer
Avondale College of Higher Education
Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia
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