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Southwestern Adventist University’s Music Department Hosts Annual Music Festival at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center

SWAU Meyerson concert 2019

On Feb. 10, 2019, Southwestern Adventist University’s annual Music Festival weekend culminates with a concert at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, Texas. Photo by Princess Musick

Southwestern Adventist University’s annual Music Festival weekend culminated with a concert at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, Texas, on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019, as 280 students, representing 25 high schools, along with professional musicians combined their talents to bring honor and glory to their Creator.

“It was a great experience,” said Christian Gonzales, senior music/communication double major who played his baritone saxophone at Meyerson. “The best experience is entertaining the audience and putting on a good show. Plus, we had a lot of interaction with high school students.” 

Renowned composer Craig Courtney was in attendance for the world premiere of his composition “Psalm 23.” This piece, never before performed in public, was commissioned especially for A Night at the Meyerson. The mass Festival Choir and Festival Strings filled the auditorium with a full, rich sound that brought the audience to its feet in applause.

Other highlights from the evening ranged from mainstream “pop” song renditions to large mass choral arrangements. The Festival Saxophone Ensemble, led by Dr. William Chien, performed “Happy,” which had the auditorium cheering from their seats. During Allegro from Symphony No. 6, Dr. Devon Howard masterfully collaborated with the Festival Brass on the Amelia H. Lay Family pipe organ.

And the finale portion of the Fantasia in C Minor, Opus 80 by Beethoven was performed by a large majority of festival participants alongside the Festival Orchestra, guest sopranos, tenors, and bass. The University Singers in collaboration with the Festival Honors Choir gave a stirring rendition of the “Conversion of Saul” by Z. Randall Stroope.

Genesis and Lynn Cantivar of Arlington, Texas, sat in the balcony watching their high school daughter perform. She is the Cantivars third child to perform at the Meyerson. Their son is currently a freshman business major at Southwestern Adventist University. “Music is an important creative outlet for students,” Lynn says. “It has taught my kids discipline. I appreciate it for being something other than video games and electronics.”

“Our goal has always been to promote musical achievement among young musicians and provide scholarships that will enable students to thrive as they engage in music while they pursue their college degrees,” shares Ken Shaw, SWAU president. “The Night at the Meyerson is one of the highlights of the year for our University.”  

During the program, Dr. Devon Howard, Department of Music chair, took time to recognize the eight festival scholarship finalists. These students performed a showcase concert on Feb. 6, at the traditional beginning of the four-day music festival event, and will each receive a scholarship to attend Southwestern Adventist University.

The festival scholarship finalists are Josie Reeves of Campion Academy in Colorado; Carissa Morris and Emilia Ortiz of Burton Adventist Academy in Arlington; David Mendoza, Hannah Seidel, and Beatriz Parilla of Chisholm Trail Academy in Keene; Jakob Tamez of South Texas Christian Academy in McAllen; and Daniel O’Connor, a homeschool student from Oklahoma. 

On February 9, 2020, A Night at the Meyerson will return to Dallas.

— Timothy Kosaka is creative manager for the Department of Marketing & PR at Southwestern Adventist University.