Archived Voice Articles

Music CDs showcase Dordt student musicians' talents

By Julie Ooms

The latest Dordt College music department CD is out and for sale in the bookstore, offering a delightful selection of some of the best pieces performed by the college’s large music ensembles during the last academic year.

A new CD is released each fall shortly after classes begin, joining textbooks, Dordt sweatshirts and key chains, and supplies in the bookstore. The CD gives visiting students and parents a sample of what the music ensembles at Dordt have been doing over the past year, and gives students and faculty a quality CD to add to their collections. But that’s a short version of what goes into—as well as what comes out of—making the CD.

Each CD contains recordings of music prepared for tours by the Concert Band, Chamber Orchestra, and Concert Choir. When the department began producing CDs in 1988, the recordings were done live at the home tour concerts. Today, the directors of the ensembles have learned that it works better to schedule separate recording times. The instrumental director, Dr. Henry Duitman, likes to record the day after the home tour concert, while Dr. Benjamin Kornelis, the choral director, prefers to do it the day before. “For me, there’s no better way to get a choir to listen to everything they’re singing than when they know it’s going to last forever,” he says.

After recording the tour concert music, the directors begin the process of selecting the limited number of songs that will fit on the finished CD. They try to choose songs that are appealing, well-performed, and varied. This year’s CD includes works such as “Ave Maria” by Robert Parsons, “Child of God” by alumnus Layton DeVries (’98) before his death, “The Log Driver’s Waltz by Wade Hemsworth,” “Sinfonia” by Handel, and “Frolicsome Finale” by Benjamin Britten.

“When I’m selecting music,” says Kornelis, “I ask myself, ‘What would I want to listen to?’ I see which recordings are the best and then try to pick a variety of styles, tempos, and instrumentation.” The goal is to offer a good mix of both instrumental and choral music that represents the highest level of quality in Dordt’s music program. But attention needs to be paid to details too. The recordings must total no more than eighty minutes. Kornelis is proud to note that this year’s CD is just over seventy-nine minutes long.

Recording is only one aspect of the production. Faculty and staff in the music department—mainly Kornelis and the department’s secretaries, Karen Rynders and Donna Brue—handle the work of compiling the list of songs, writing descriptions and notes for the cover, securing rights, and paying royalties. And Jamin Ver Velde, the advancement office’s graphic artist, designs an inviting cover.

The outcome is a collection of music that shows the excellence of Dordt’s music program and the quality of students' work. But music faculty intend much more for the CDs. The title of this year’s version, “Thy Majesty How Bright,” is taken from the first track, “My God, How Wonderful Thou Art.” It is the hope of the music department faculty that the CD shows listeners not only how well Dordt students use their gifts, but also to whom they offer them.