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Winter 2004 | Volume 26, Number 5 | Campus
Schoenhals Symposium Celebrates Gospel Music With Two Visiting Artists

celebrated musicians came to Seattle Pacific University in February to spread the gospel — music, that is. On February 6, vocalist and pianist Stephen Michael Newby headed up an Evening of Gospel, Worship and Praise. And on February 12, director Horace Clarence Boyer led the SPU Invitational GospelFest. Both events were part of the annual Lawrence and Ruth Schoenhals Fine Arts Symposium.

A new, student-led music group joined in both nights of the gospel celebration: SPU’s own Gospel Choir, directed by junior Brittany Nordtvedt. Since its inception in Autumn 2003, the Gospel Choir has worked on and off with Newby, pastor of music and worship arts at nearby Antioch Bible Church in Redmond, Washington. Newby’s compositions have earned awards ranging from a National Endowment of the Arts grant to a Distinguished Dissertation of the Year award at the University of Michigan for his tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.

During the Evening of Gospel, Worship and Praise at First Free Methodist Church, the SPU Gospel Choir was joined on stage by the University’s Wind Ensemble, Chapel Praise Team, Group Praise Team and Newby’s own band, Triune. At the GospelFest six days later, invited choirs from throughout the Northwest again raised the roof of First Free Methodist, this time under Boyer’s direction. Boyer, who took part in three other symposium events earlier that day, is known for bringing historical African-American music to audiences around the world. Author of The Golden Age of Gospel (Elliott and Clark Publishing, 1995), he co-directed the musical “Blues for Mr. Charlie” with its playwright, James Baldwin.

SPU Fine Arts Marketing Associate Kim Gilnett says he was glad that both Newby and Boyer worked directly with student musicians during the symposium. “It’s great for students to see these renowned gospel directors showing an interest in them and mentoring them in their field. We owe a real debt to Lawrence and Ruth Schoenhals for making this possible.”

Lawrence Schoenhals served for 28 years in a variety of administrative positions at Seattle Pacific, including chair of the Music Department. He and his wife, Ruth Putnam Schoenhals ’32, later established a grant enabling Free Methodist colleges and universities across the United States to bring Christian artists of national stature to their campuses.

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