Brehm Center’s Fred Bock Institute of Music and Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels Create Beautiful Music
In a program entitled, “Let the Heavens Praise,” on February
10, a choir of approximately 900 burst out in song at the Cathedral of Our Lady
of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles during the second annual ecumenical
Festival of Worship.
The singers encompassed 34 adult and six children’s choirs
from throughout various churches in Los Angeles, to include the Fuller Vocal
Ensemble. Ed Willmington, Director of the
Fred Bock Institute of Music, was particularly engaged in the event,
considering he began planning the theme long in advance.
“Conceptually, preparation happens a year ahead of time,”
said Willmington. “You always have two [festivals]
in a theoretical pipeline--you’re working on specific details for one, while
planning the concept and theme for the year to follow.”
The annual singing gala existed under other leadership
before Willmington stepped in to coordinate the music two years ago, and according
to him, there were about half the number of singers before he re-shaped the
“I’ve tried to
conceive it as a worship service in terms of combining scripture readings and
prayer,” said Willmington.
Since he says he can never do the same thing twice, there
were some welcome surprises for this year’s Festival. Although the children’s choir had always been
positioned to the side, Willmington wanted to highlight the group by putting
them center stage at the start of the program. Special guests included acclaimed composer
Craig Courtney, vocal artist Jessica Rivera, and violinist Elizabeth
Fuller students also played a larger role in this year’s
performance. Emily Andrews, a PhD student in Christian Worship, accompanied on
the piano during, “Ugai mose/Come, All you People,” and “Let All the Heavens
Praise!” while Kerri Lopez, an MAT student in Biblical Studies, performed a
solo dance throughout, “Let All the Heavens Praise!” Jon Gathje, PhD student in Christian Worship,
Sarah Keay, MA student in Islamic Studies, Debi Yu, MDiv Student, and Daniel
Kim, MDiv Student, each participated during the choral scripture reading of Psalm
Fuller faculty participation included Ed Willmington, who
composed five songs, arranged three, and conducted several throughout the
evening, and Fred Davison, Executive Director of the Brehm Center, who also conducted.
After such a big production, Willmington’s focus of his
intent remains clear.
“My ultimate goal is that by use of music and other arts, people
would have been able to sense a connection with God,” he said. “And they would have a place to voice, view and
hear it. It won’t happen for everyone at
once, but hopefully for a lot of people, a connection with God took place.”