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Men’s Chorus, PAA Students Join to Create Worshipful Music

Men’s Chorus, PAA Students Join to Create Worshipful Music

This year’s Oregon Adventist Men’s Chorus (OAMC) annual concert took on a new ring and youthful energy when Portland Adventist Academy’s Bell Canto handbells ensemble became part of the program.

“The inspiration for inviting Bell Canto came from my love for handbells and the variety of ways they can be used,” said OAMC Director Ben Purvis, now retired after 43 years of teaching music and Bible in Adventist schools.

In addition to the 13 handbells ringers, two other PAA students were invited to play solo parts for one piece each: junior, Cory Connell on oboe and sophomore, Dannika AuDuong on cello.

“Dannika and Cory were exceptional soloists,” Purvis said, “and really added to the success of the concert.”

Another young musician, Portland Adventist Elementary School eighth-grader Robby Russell, played the African djembe drum on two pieces.

“I think some of their youthful energy inspired our singers,” shared long-time OAMC singer Sam Vigil Jr. “And the students did so well. It really enhanced the program.”

“Inviting PAA was only natural,” Purvis said, “as I completely support Adventist education and seek to promote it whenever possible.”

“Collaborating with OAMC was one of the highlights of the season for Bell Canto,” enthused Dr. John Carter, music director and chair of PAA’s Music Department.

“Choosing the combination of chorus and handbells was a way of adding variety to our usual program,” Purvis said. “I have used this combination several times in my teaching career.

“The PAA music program is really developing under the leadership of Dr. Carter, and with the quality of the program, they were the natural choice for this collaboration,” he continued.

Bell Canto is one of five of the Music Department’s ensembles that toured to Adventist schools and churches in Central and Southern Oregon, and Northern California in late April.

“It was important for our students to see how music can remain a powerful source of purpose and community in their adult lives,” Carter shared. “I particularly felt it was important for our young students to collaborate musically and spiritually with the seasoned musicians of the OAMC, and for OAMC to see that there are still students at PAA that care deeply about making quality music in a sacred setting.”

Now that the pandemic is behind us, PAA is experiencing growth in the music programs, especially the Bell Canto ensemble.

“Our handbell program has been growing by leaps and bounds,” Carter said, “and this was a banner year for our ensemble. The students worked hard all year on very challenging repertoire, and they really rose to the occasion.”

One might say joining OAMC’s mature voices with the youthful ring of Bell Canto’s handbells added another level of worship to the concert.

“This cross-generational connection is what music can do best,” Carter said, “bringing two communities together to worship through music.”

Watch the concert on Sunnyside Adventist Church’s YouTube Channel here…

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