Helen Hoekema Van Wyck
Professor of Music;
Director of Choral Activities
on faculty since 1987
Music speaks directly to the heart of the listener (and performer), and brings honor to our endlessly creative God.
Dr. Helen Van Wyck is a lifelong lover of great music, particularly choral music. “I was inspired by some great teachers and conductors, as well as my parents’ love of music. Early on, I understood that for me, it felt like the most direct and profound way to praise God.” She hopes that her students come away from their music classes and ensembles with a conviction that music is a lifelong pursuit – something they can stay involved in for the rest of their lives. “Whether as a ‘consumer’ of music, an audience member, or performer, music helps us experience beauty as God’s image-bearers. We also make deep friendships and connections by making music together.”
What drew her to Trinity:
When Van Wyck came to Trinity in 1987, she was excited about building a strong choral program. “The opportunity to do this work in a distinctively Christian environment close to a world-class city made the prospect even more attractive. I have loved teaching at Trinity every day since then, with its close-knit community atmosphere (maintained even as we’ve doubled in size), open-hearted students and faculty, and opportunities to strive for excellence that are available to all.”
Her specific research interests have been the music of J. S. Bach and Felix Mendelssohn, both of whom were deeply committed Christians. “In Bach’s music, I have investigated how the composer uses dance rhythms and idioms in his sacred music, often for symbolic purpose. In studying Mendelssohn, I have delved into ways in which his music evokes the tradition of Bach, whom he admired greatly. I have also pursued an active interest in choral pedagogy and rehearsal leadership.”
When she’s not teaching:
Van Wyck loves to ride her bike on the trails near her home. “My husband and I enjoy travel, especially in Europe. I like to cook and bake (although I don’t do it all that often). Attending a great concert, spending an evening with good friends, and following a few sports teams figure in my ‘extracurricular’ interests as well.” She also enjoys singing professionally and more informally in her church or at Trinity as part of faculty recitals.
D.M.A., Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, 1994
M.M., Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, 1983
B.A., Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1975
Courses and Publications/Research
- Advanced Choral Conducting
- Concert Choir
- Being a Musician
- Music Performance Seminar
- Interim courses: Music in Chicago, Concert choir tours (Florida, East Coast, California, Missouri-Colorado-Iowa) Cathedral Music of England, Austria and Germany, Italy (Venice, Florence, Rome)
- Field Education
- Honors Ensemble
- Introduction to Conducting
- Introduction to Music Literature
- Music Theory I & II
- Musicianship I & II
- Secondary Music Education
- Senior Seminar
- Supervision of student teachers in music
Papers, Publications, and Performances
Performed solos from Handel’s Messiah at Palos Park Presbyterian Community Church, December 2016.
Performed in England and Germany in July 2016 with the Bach Vespers Choir from Grace Lutheran Church in River Forest, Illinois.
Presented “Making Connections: German Romantic Composers and the Heritage of Bach” at Symposium for Illinois Philharmonic, April 2016
Published “Inspiring Excellence: Observation of Four Collegiate Choral Conductors,” in Choral Journal, November 2015.
Presented “Mendelssohn, Saul, and Paul: The Use and Significance of Chorales in Paulus,” Society for Christian Scholarship in Music, February 2015, Atlanta.
Performed with the 54-voice professional chorus of the Oregon Bach Festival, a three-week international summer music festival in Eugene, Oregon, from 1986-2015.
Professional recordings made with the Oregon Bach Festival on Hänssler Classic label: Haydn Theresa Mass, Creation Mass, Harmony Mass, Handel Messiah, Dvorak Stabat Mater, Penderecki Credo (won Grammy for Best Choral Performance, 2000), Mendelssohn A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Schubert Mass in A flat.
Led the conference choir and presented a session: “Choral Conducting: A Refresher Course” for Faith Engaged: Psalms, Hymns, Spiritual Songs conference at Trinity Christian College. February 2007.
Sang with the Carnegie Hall Festival Chorus (Helmuth Rilling, conductor) in a performance of J.S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. January 2007.
Sang with Carnegie Hall Festival Chorus (Robert Shaw, conductor) in performances of Brahms German Requiem and Mendelssohn’s Elijah (1990 and 1997)
Awards and Memberships
Professional Society Memberships
- American Choral Directors Association
- National Association for Music Education
- National Collegiate Choral Association
- Society for Christian Scholarship in Music