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Conducting to Performing, Professor Answers the Call of Music
During the academic year, Dr. Helen Van Wyck serves as professor of music and director of choral activities at Trinity. But for three weeks every summer for the past 26 years, she has performed with the Oregon Bach Festival Chorus and Orchestra in Eugene, Oregon.
The Festival was founded in 1970, and the chorus and orchestra are conducted by German Bach scholar, Helmuth Rilling. For Van Wyck, performing at the Festival provides the opportunity to “wear a different hat and be a professional singer.” A change from her usual position in front of a choir or classroom, Van Wyck also becomes the student, learning from Rilling about conducting, teaching, rehearsal techniques, and music making.
At the Festival, members of the chorus present performances of major works with orchestra and soloists. They also participate in the “Discovery Series” afternoon concerts during which Rilling speaks to the audience about the music while interspersing musical examples. This summer, the chorus sang 11 different performances within an intense 16-day schedule.
“Being part of the Festival has been a treasure in my life, and it feeds my soul musically and personally,” she said. “I bring many ideas I glean from that work into my work with students and my perspective on music.”
Trinity’s music department serves a specific population of student majors and the general student population.
“We see music as a gift of God and the field of music as a calling, whether or not students pursue it as a career,” said Van Wyck. “Music is one of the most wonderful ways to honor God, worship him, and praise him. It is easy to think of that in terms of performing ensembles, but we consciously incorporate a Christian perspective into our classroom courses as well.”
Trinity’s music groups also serve the community through public performances on and off campus and concerts that enhance worship at local churches.
Van Wyck and her husband, Marv, are members of Hope Christian Reformed Church in Oak Forest, Illinois.