Vanguard University values cross-cultural education and experience in which our student’s are challenged to develop a global worldview and make lasting global connections. The Music Department at Vanguard shares this vision and desires to see the music students and graduates become globally minded leaders using their musical gifts among the nations.
Past overseas tours that have greatly impacted our students and outreach have included Europe (2001, 2004, 2007, 2014), South Korea, China (2003, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2013), Japan, Mexico, and Canada. We have international students at Vanguard today who made decisions for Christ as a result of our recent tours. Additionally, several Vanguard Singers & Band alumni are serving overseas or are directly involved with cross-cultural missions full-time because of the exposure and calling they received while on one of our music ministry mission trips.
In summer 2015, the Guitar Ensemble had an exciting opportunity to embark on a week-long tour down to Argentina. Their tour extended from May 20th to May 27th, where they participated at the University Guitar Festival in San Juan and ministered to the students there. Argentina has a struggling economy with many opportunities of spiritual and practical ministry at its doorstep. Our students were blessed by all of you who joined them in prayer and financial support, as God worked through their talents and outreach.
“People always say they want to travel and go to places. For me, I thought it was overrated since I am not much of a travel person. But a professor told me he wasn’t a traveler either, until he traveled once. I now understand what he said because once I had my feet home, I was mentally ready to go somewhere else. Experiencing a different place in the world gave me a a wonderful perspective. Sharing my life and beliefs with others and learning from others was a blessing. Thousands of miles away makes no difference to the similarities between us. It was an experience I will cherish, never forget, and forever be grateful.” – Jesus Rodriguez
“One thing I loved about visiting Argentina with Vanguard was interacting with the people from there. Regardless of their circumstances or problems, they remain content and still make time to help each other. I loved seeing how God’s values and love can be seen outside of the church in ordinary people just like me.” – Joel Valiente
Below is a synopsis of the trip, by Professor Michael Nigro, followed by a video of one of the performances.
I first experienced San Juan, Argentina in November 2013 when I was invited to perform in series of concerts as a quartet with Alejandro Dávila, Gabriela Pérez and Jim Bosse. Alejandro and Gabriela are both on the faculty at the Universidad Nacional de San Juan. Soon after I returned home from that tour, I received an email invitation from Alejandro inviting the Vanguard University Guitar Ensemble to San Juan to participate in the First Annual Festival Guitarras de San Juan. I had no idea what God’s plan was when I first accepted this invitation, I just surrendered myself to the plan and went to work!
I wanted my students to have the same experience I had when I first traveled to Argentina. The city has lots of modern architecture, trees, tiled sidewalks, busy parks, squares, and many religious, scientific, historic, and cultural places to visit. The food and steak is outstanding. The Argentine steak you get in a pedestrian dinner can only be equaled by going to the finest restaurant in the USA. The true Argentina that I wanted the students to know was within the spirit of the people. The Argentine students were friendly, outgoing, helpful, and eager to talk with our students. Despite some language barriers, everyone seemed to communicate just fine.
Argentine people enjoy spending time with each other and with guests. During mealtimes we noticed that the younger generation of Argentine’s do not use their cell phones because they are afraid of being rude. Meals are a time when you sit with your friends and family and socialize. Since many Argentine’s go home for lunch, it is a time to sit with your loved ones and talk about the day’s events. Nothing is rushed in San Juan, including meals. Like in older traditions, food is served in courses, which gives ample time to get to know the people that you are sitting with.
I crave this interaction in my own daily life but am unable to have it because of the hectic lives we live in Southern California. I enjoy spending my lunch with Greg Glancey, out on the lawn, talking about life, our careers, music, and whatever comes up. In Argentina, mealtimes were a time for Greg and I to get to speak with the other musicians at the festival. On many evenings, our dinner conversations would continue with tea into our hotel rooms. We were sharing music, guitar, and comparing life in the United States with life in South America.
There were many great experiences on this trip. For me, conducting in the Auditorio Juan Victoria was a highlight of the tour. The Vanguard University Guitar Ensemble performed the finest that I have ever heard. We played very musical and each member followed every cue perfectly. At the end of our performance, we were joined by the Guitar Ensemble at the Universidad Nacional along with Professors Juan José Olguin and Lucy Romero. I conducted the large combined guitar orchestra through “El Pintoresco,” which is in the form of a malambo (a traditional dance from Argentina).
There were many opportunities for Dr. Glancey and myself to engage in impromptu professional development activities. For example, one afternoon at the Dávila residence, I had the chance to sit with Arturo Zaballos with guitars in hand, and talk about Argentine rhythms and about the music of Atualpa Yupanqui. That same afternoon, Dr. Glancey sat with Federico Nuñez, composer and guitarist from Buenos Aires, and shared ideas about composition. Also, Federico demonstrated many new ideas about extended techniques on the guitar while Dr. Glancey transcribed them on paper. On several other occasions, Dr. Glancey and I met with the guitar duo of Diego Cruz and Lorena Souper. They are from Santiago, Chile and possess a musical gift that is far beyond their years.
We hope the relationships that we made on this trip will continue and that we can periodically bring these fine professionals to Vanguard University in the future.
The Vanguard Singers and Band traveled to Europe this past May and went through seven different countries in three weeks. Although this trip has much to do with Music, it has so much more to do with sharing God’s love with people who do not know Him. This team of 35 musicians shared God’s love by just spending time with the people who have never been loved in a way with such grace. Vanguards had two home stays, which is where they would sleep in somebody’s house that lived nearby the church that they were to perform at.
The first home stay was in Biberach, Germany; they stayed with these families for three nights and really got to understand the home stays lifestyle and culture. Many of the students really enjoyed this part of the trip and developed real relationships so much so that the home stays said they are welcome in their home whenever they returned to Germany.
The second home stay was in Lisbon, Portugal, where they stayed in homes for three nights, also some of the men stayed in local churches. The team traveled throughout Portugal and would set up in local areas like a farmers market, along with parks, and have worship music playing for the people walking around. They were sharing God’s word in a different language but with a common love of music. The music was expressed to the people of Portugal in a way of praising God and they enjoyed it! The trip was an amazing experience for the whole team!
“The trip to Europe with the Vanguard Singers and Band was such an amazing Experience! Not only did I have several opportunities to share my faith with a wide variety of people, but I also got valuable experience sharing the gift of music with wonderful people. Also, visiting the many cathedrals brought about such a reverence that is near impossible to experience in America or anywhere else in the world…. It was fantastic to be able to see all the history that I had learned about right in front of me… This tour was so much more than a tour, it was an incredible time to grow closer to God and show His love to so many people. It was an amazing experience that future Vanguard music students would not want to miss out on! Thanks for such an incredible trip!” - Jenny Payne, Music Major – Class of 2011
“I went to China last year (2013) and had an amazing yet humbling experience of seeing people love God regardless of their circumstance. This trip to Europe (2014) was completely different because I got to see God’s beauty and see the transformation of people from the beginning of our concerts to the end. God moves in people lives, and for our team we were able to help with the simplicity of music” –Katy Martinez – Class of 2016
Romans 14:11 – “For it is written, I live, said the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”
The Vanguard Singers and Band had opportunities for ministry through music during our China tours in 2002, 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2013! We were able to share in concert to thousands of people as we performed in major concert halls, on college campuses, at schools and even orphanages.
In 2008, we were blessed to be in China the day following the tragic earthquake in Sichuan Province that claimed the lives of over 80,000 people. We were immediately thrown into unique ministry opportunities as we provided concerts for Christians devastated because their buildings had been tossed asunder. We provided smiles and outreach to thousands who were being housed in “tent cities” that were quickly built for the homeless and helpless in the province. Because of this opportunity, our students were featured prominently on national CCTV (China television stations), and will once again be followed by TV crews as we return to many of the same schools and cities where we shared and performed in 2008.
In 2013 we were able to visit Beijing, the northern city of Harbin, Xian/Hanzhong, Chengdu, Guangzhou and other cities along the way! Here are just a few comments we have received from undercover missionaries living in China who have already begun to specifically pray for our trip:
They will not only attract thousands to their concerts, but they will encourage their brothers and sisters who live here as well as give us more opportunities to share the good news based on the open doors we will have from their concerts… Knowing that God has His hand on so many of your young people and that they are so willing to give Him their best causes us to shed tears of joy! You have no idea how many people will pack the auditorium for your concert… are you willing to share more than 2 concerts a day this trip?!
The Vanguard Singers and Band received a special invitation to share concerts in Germany, Austria, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Belgium, as well as to assist Dr. James Melton in leading services and a music/worship conference in Lisbon, Portugal in the summer of 2011, from May 9 through May 28. Additionally, our music missionaries were asked to participate in open-air concerts and street evangelism.
While in Europe, we ministered and shared in some planned evangelistic meetings in Holland and Germany. During portions of our trip, we were hosted by members of the Madchenkantorei Chorus of Bad Saulgau, Germany, which participated in our Carnegie Hall tour during May of 2006 and whom we hosted here in Southern California and our university during May of 2009.
These students, ages 14-24, were very excited to have our students visit their schools for several days and were very open to the gospel. Several concerts were planned for us in some of the oldest Baroque churches and cathedrals in southern Germany (along the Martin Luther “road”), as well as in the Bavarian Cultural Arts Center. We joined the Cova Piedade (Assembly of God) Church in Lisbon, Portugal, providing another wonderful cross-cultural experience for our students.
Particularly during these days of world uncertainty and unrest, the church in western Europe is further resolved to minister to those who need the true Prince of Peace. Because of the unique gift of music and its universal language and cultural appeal, the opportunities for witness and ministry available to us are limitless! Additionally, the response to our students’ trip to Europe 3 years ago was overwhelming. They truly were able to impact hundreds of our brothers and sisters in Christ from many different churches who came to be strengthened and nurtured in their own personal worship and as worship leaders in their own communities and congregations.
Here are just a couple of comments from the pastoral team in Lisbon who have already begun to specifically pray for our ministry, concerts, and time with them:
“His light will go out from your students as they sing, as they walk around the city, as they live here with our families and interact with hundreds during their time here.”
“They will not only attract thousands to their outdoor concerts, but they will refresh their brothers and sisters in Christ who live here as well as give us more opportunities to share the gospel based on the open doors we will have from their music…”