Trimmer Cropped

Chris Trimmer Awarded at 2016 Reno Jazz Festival


13115920_10153400449371831_3654655468715969846_oWe are proud to announce the awarding of one of our students in the Department of Music!  Just before the end of our 2016 Spring semester, members of Vanguard University’s Jazz Ensemble and Jazz Combo had the unforgettable experience of participating at the 54th annual 2016 Reno Jazz Festival.  Hosted by the University of Nevada in Reno, from Thursday, April 28 through Saturday, April 30, the Festival welcomed over 350 jazz groups from schools around the nation, including choirs, high school bands and combos, and college bands and combos.

Trimmer CroppedVanguard’s Jazz group, under the direction of Dr. Kenneth Foerch, performed and were adjudicated on that Friday, as the schedule was comprised of various clinics and competitions, featuring high-profile adjudicators and guest musicians offering their expertise.  Awards were given to select students who displayed outstanding musicianship, and we are very excited to say that one award was present to our very own Chris Trimmer, for “Outstanding Musicianship on Guitar”!  We congratulate Chris for this well-deserved recognition, and are so proud to be a part of this accomplishment in his career!

_MG_1258-EditAnother highlight of the Festival was the opportunity to enjoy a live concert by Snarky Puppy Jazz Band.  The entire event was an excellent, productive experience for our students, to glean from the adjudicators, share our Jazz talent and comeradery with other musicians, and of course network and bring more awareness to Vanguard.  Our Vanguard participants were as follows: Anthony Brough, Dulce Campos, Kevin Campos, Amanda Craig, Noah Debolt, Katherine Gonzales, William Leguizamon, Edward Martinez, Edwin Riano, Sierra Lowry-Shephard, Christopher Trimmer, Ebenezer Viveros, Josiah Waters, Brett Westerfield, and Ian Zamora.

Tyler 2

Alumnus Spotlight: Tyler Wolsten

“I sang with the Vanguard Choir in New York during my senior year in high school, and I witnessed the greatness that is Dr. Joni Prado. I knew that if I could study with someone as talented as Dr. Prado that I could make my dreams of performing a reality.” Tyler Wolsten, Class of 2013

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? How did you decide to attend Vanguard University?

Well, my name is Tyler Mitchell Wolsten, and I grew up in Oregon and Idaho. I am currently in my second year at CSUF for my Masters of Music degree with an emphasis in Vocal Performance. My path to Vanguard is different than most, as I came in as a Freshmen Transfer uprooting from my family and friends in Boise, Idaho. I sang with the Vanguard Choir in New York during my senior year in high school, and I witnessed the greatness that is Dr. Joni Prado. I knew that if I could study with someone as talented as Dr. Prado that I could make my dreams of performing a reality. I studied with Dr. Prado at the beginning of my Sophomore year, and will always be indebt to her guidance and support.

 Q: Tell us about a great experience or opportunity you’ve had here in the Department of Music.

I have had the pleasure of performing all over Europe with Vanguard, as well as at Avery Fischer Hall in New York, and Segerstrom Hall in O.C. I can’t think of one particular experience that helped me grow as a musician, but the professionalism that the music faculty displayed set me on course to be an example elsewhere.

Q: Where are you now? Why did you decide to go to graduate school to pursue a Master of Music degree?

I am currently at CSUF pursuing my Graduate work. I spent about 8 months out of school from Vanguard not really pursuing anything musically. I continued to take lessons, but performance opportunities were slim. I felt like I was in a transitional period that I simply couldn’t sustain, and knew that Graduate School needed to be my next move to continue the growth I had been graving.

Q: Congratulations on landing the lead role in The Magic Flute! What is it like preparing to portray a prince in one of Mozart’s most beloved operas?

Thank you! It is a lot of hard work and time management at the moment. I spend most days trying to improve my understanding of the text as I’m doing it in German. Die Zauberflöte is a Singspiel opera, which means there is spoken dialogue similar to an operetta or a musical. To properly understand the inflection, and syntax of my lines requires hours of study and practice each day. Mozart has a way of sounding easy, but being incredibly difficult with the nuance and detail needed to perfect his score. Tamino is a wonderful character to immerse myself with. He is innocent, brave, trustworthy, passionate, loving, kind, and rational. Getting into his head space and inner objects has been a treat!

Q: What excites you the most about the opportunity to travel to Germany to study opera?

I think the experience I’m receiving both now and while I’m there. I try to work diligently to be as prepared as possible with a role this big, and the discipline it requires is a lot! I think being able to say that I am able to perform something to this magnitude speaks to how powerful our God is, and how using our talents to honor him shows that we can achieve great things in his name.

Q: What advice do you have for incoming and current students?

That work ethic is a talent too, and that attitude means everything. I’ve learned that people will not give you opportunities, and if you truly believe God has called you to a path, run as fast as you can towards it. Our time here is short, so use what God gave you!

Jenny 1 beach 088 copy

Alumna Spotlight: Xiaoying (Jenny) Chen

“There is nowhere else in the world you could possibly find such mentors like the faculty and staff in the Department of Music at Vanguard University.” Xiaoying (Jenny) Chen, Class of 2015

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from? How did you decide to attend Vanguard University? 

Hi, my name is Xiaoying (or Jenny) Chen. I am from China, and was born and raised in Guangzhou, where my family still lives. In the second year of high school, I was looking for a college music program that would embrace the Christian faith, which was impossible to find in China. I had the privilege to attend the Vanguard Singers and Band’s performances in Guangzhou in both 2005 and 2008, and thought how awesome would it be, if one day, I could worship with them. I heard about the Vanguard University Music Department from Dr. Melton’s parents Jim and Bonnie, who had been in China for over 30 years as missionaries. I wanted to give a special thank you to Dr. Melton and his family here, through whom God had opened the door and enabled me to come to Vanguard University.

Q: Tell us about a great experience or opportunity you’ve had here in the Department of Music.

I was truly amazed by the program and how much the professors cared about us. There is nowhere else in the world you could possibly find such mentors like the Vanguard faculty and staff. Mrs. Dovel had been such a great support to me, as well. I am really thankful God had started my “U.S. journey” from Vanguard, or I couldn’t be able to adapt and adjust to such a new culture in a short time. I was able to develop many incredible relationships with the professors from the music department over the past four years, and I know they would always be supportive of me in my career.

Q: What is the most valuable lesson you have learned here?

The most valuable lesson I learned here is NEVER GIVE UP. There were many fun and easy times, but there were also some hard times when things were falling apart. I had made many mistakes and had lots of regretful moments that I wished I had handled them differently. I had thought that I could never make it, or I am not talented enough to survive in music. The only thing I could do was keep paddling! If God had not yet quit on me (and He never will), why should I? It was hard, but I have to keep reminding myself take a breath and just move on.

Q: Where are you now? Why did you decide to go to graduate school to pursue a Master of Music degree? 

I am now pursuing a Master degree in Viola Performance at Carnegie Mellon University, getting ready to enjoy the cold Pittsburgh winter. A special thank you to Sorah Myung, my private instructor, who had truly encouraged and prepared me to pursue a higher degree. I am really thankful for this opportunity. I know there is so much room I could grow and learn in music. This two year program would enable me to become a better musician.

Q: What advice do you have for incoming students? 

As your sister in Christ, I could say: please read your Bible daily and pray daily. Your relationship with Christ always matters most.

As your musician friend, I have to say something you hate to hear: GO TO THE PRACTICE ROOM NOW. Some of my colleagues think I take this practice thing too seriously, but I want to tell you one of the most regretful things I did for my college years was not practicing enough. I wished I could have realized how important practices were as a freshman.

Another really important point is to seek outside opportunities and build connections. If you are a good musician equipped with solid skills, there would be thousands of opportunities out there. These opportunities would take you to places you might had never thought you could be in. (I was able to travele to Boston, Washington DC, Duxbury, Texas, New York, Hawaii, in the past four years.) Look for festivals, performing opportunities, workshops, conferences outside of Vanguard. Talk to your instructor, ask them to help you find and prepare for the auditions. Build your network with professional colleagues in and outside of Vanguard. But remember, unless you step outside of your comfort zone and present yourself, you would never know how big the world is.

Lastly, enjoy your college years. Don’t try to “kill time”. This is a once in a lifetime experience. As a VU alumna, I really wish you all the best in your walk with Christ and your career in music! Hope to meet you soon in the future.


Annabella Cervero - Composition Intensive

Student Spotlight: Annabella Cervero Attends Summer Composition Intensive

Bachelor of Music in Composition candidate, Annabella Cervero, was admitted as one of sixteen emerging composers to partake in the Saint Mary’s College Summer Composition Intensive in South Bend, Indiana this past summer. The Summer Composition Intensive consisted of twelve days of presentations, workshops, and lessons in different topics including Texture: Depth in Music, Joining Music Cultures, and Balancing Architecture and Emotion.

Q: Why were you interested in attending the Summer Composition Intensive?

Dr. Glancey introduced the idea to me.  He thought attending an event such as this would help improve my composition skills and prepare me for graduate school.   We found this particular composition intensive at St. Mary’s College through “The Composer’s Site”.

Q: How would you describe your overall experience?

I had a wonderful experience.  I learned so much about composition, networking, and the reality of what life is like as a professional composer.  I also met many amazing people.  As the only composition major at Vanguard, I don’t really have the opportunity to collaborate with other composers very often.   It was so refreshing to be surrounded by other composers for two weeks in Southbend, IN.

Q: Out of all of the different presentations and workshops you attended, which one stood out to you the most? Why?

I thought that every workshop and masterclass I attended was beneficial.  I was most inspired by the workshop with Dr. Paul Salerni on the topic of art songs.  However, the workshops that were most beneficial to my growth as a composer were the workshops with Dr. P.Q. Phan.  The topics of his workshops forced me to get out of my comfort zone and compose in ways I had never tried before.  For example, I have not spent much time researching or writing opera yet in my compositional studies, and in one workshop, I was given a project that required me to research, analyze, and compose an operatic monologue for a dramatic soprano in less than 24 hours.  On another occasion, I had project that required me to abandon all of my musical intuition and compose a piece completely based on numbers.  For this assignment, we were also encouraged not to use any instruments while generating our material, or even listen to the piece until it was completed.  This was particularly challenging for me, because I am usually very auditory in my composing process, and I like using a piano when I am in the process of notating my ideas onto paper.   This project forced me to really hone in on my written and aural theory skills to produce a completely technical piece.

Q: What do you think was the biggest lesson you learned while you were there?

In addition to all of the great lessons I learned about the art of composition, I also learned about the importance of networking and relationships in the music industry.  Who you know is just as important as what you know.  The composition intensive gave me a reality check on how challenging it is to make a living as an academic composer, and that you have to be willing to be flexible and versatile.  Almost everyone who makes a living as a composer also teaches or performs in some capacity.   Nevertheless, everyone I spoke to said that it was worth it.  The key is loving what you do.

Furthermore, because there was such a wide range of age, experience, and skill level among the participants of the intensive, I had the opportunity to learn about grad school programs as well.  It was a nice way to get me thinking about the near future.

Bella Composition Intensive

NASM slider

Vanguard University Music Program Receives National Accreditation Membership

We are excited to announce that we are now accredited by The  National Association of Schools of Music (NASM)!

Written by Holly Clinard from the Vanguard University Marketing & Communications Office.

Costa Mesa, CA, July 27, 2015 – Vanguard University’s renowned department of music has been granted membership into the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM). Dr. Susanne Reid, professor of music at Vanguard University, made the announcement this week.

NASM serves as the national accrediting agency for music and music-related disciplines among collegiate and postsecondary schools. Founded in 1924, NASM continues to establish a more uniform method of granting credit, developing and maintaining basic standards for granting degrees and credentials. The association is made up of approximately 650 schools.

“We are most thrilled that our program is recognized nationally, and what this will mean for our students, knowing that NASM membership more easily paves the way for them in applying for graduate school,” said Dr. James Melton, chair of Vanguard’s department of music and professor of music.

Vanguard University’s department of music offers a bachelor of music, bachelor of arts in music and bachelor of arts in worship studies. Students who have graduated from the program currently earn graduate scholarships and assistantships to some of the strongest graduate programs in the nation in their chosen area of performance or concentration.

Member institutions of NASM develop national accreditation standards and guidelines in consultation with other organizations, focusing on artistic and educational essentials.

For more information about the National Association of Schools of Music, visit

For more information on the Department of Music at Vanguard University, visit

To request an interview, contact:

Erin Hales, Director of Marketing & Communications


Vanguard University (VU) is a regionally ranked, private, Christian university of liberal arts and professional studies. Located ten minutes from Newport Beach and an hour from Los Angeles, Vanguard equips students for a Spirit-empowered life of Christ-centered leadership and service. Vanguard is committed to academic excellence, boasting small class sizes that are designed to cultivate lasting professor-mentor relationships that enhance the learning process. The U.S. News & World Report ranked Vanguard a top 12 regional college in the west and a top veteran-friendly college for 2015, and The Princeton Review ranked Vanguard a 2014 “Best in the West” regional college. Accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission, Vanguard offers more than 30 degrees and certificates through its undergraduate, graduate, and professional studies programs. Please visit

For more Vanguard University press releases, go to:

VSB China Trip – Update

May 19 – We arrived in Harbin around 8:30 at night.  They were gracious and cancelled our concert since we were exhausted. They feed us pizza and the kids stayed with the students in their dorm rooms.

May 20 – We got to sleep in until 7:30, which was wonderful.  The students had two concerts.  The afternoon concert was at the Harbin school where their high school students performed for us.  They did the main theme from Lion King and one from Sister Act.  Both were  absolutely incredible and most of us were crying when they were finished.  They had tried out for the China music festival (a two year process and the festival only happens every three years) and took first place with their songs.  (I am sure your student will have a video of their performance).  After our performance they asked if they could sing a blessing over us.  They circled us extended their hands upward and sang.  When they were finished, there wasn’t a dry eye in the place.  It was annointed and we were the ones that were blessed.

May 21 – We left early from Harbin 4:45am was the call time to get to the airport.  We flew into Xian where the Shannxi University bussed us to  our next stop 4 hours away.  We arrived ate quickly and went to the South campus to perform.

May 22 – Today we were blessed to visit a like minded Orphanage.  Students played with the children and held the babies.  These babies are special needs children with physical issues and some mental issues.  It was a heart wrenching time as we understood how we are commanded to love the widows, orphans, and aliens.  The Father’s heart has always been for the down-trodden and disadvantaged.  We rushed from there and went to the North campus to perform again.  We were served a wonderful dinner and then taken back to the South campus to have a time of Cultural Exchange with the students studying the Arts.  They performed and we sang a couple accapella songs.

We leave early tomorrow to head to Chengdu.  We will be there for 6 days.  We are hoping to have wifi so we can send pictures.  Until then, thank you for remembering us and touching the people of China through us.  Lives are being changed, and it isn’t just the Chinese.


To hear more about the China Trip ‘like’ the music department on facebook.

VSB China Trip – Day 6

IMG_0612Today we got to sleep in until 8:30am. It was good to catch up on some sleep. We began the day by going to a local artisan mall. We found neat trinkets and took pictures with some of the art. Why is it always so fun to pose as the statues. It must be an international and multicultural way to show appreciation for the art! Or, it is just funny…

IMG_0613We went for the last day of shopping where we were some of us were handed coupons for a $30 RMB ($5) pedicure or manicure. We were so excited that we walked right into the store, sat down and took our shoes off. IMG_0615While we were waiting I began to look at the back of the coupon and noticed $100. Just then Jenny Chen, one of our students and Chinese, walked by. I called her in and asked her if this coupon was for $30 off if we spent $100? She said it was but we would end up spending $68 RMB ($11.30 US) . We thought it was too much and put on our shoes and left. Compared to the US price it was a steal but we had our hearts set on $5 US. We are looking forward to getting an hour massage for a good price.


VSB China Trip – Shopping, Concert, and Prayer

Today we toured the Temple of Heaven and went shopping again.  The students are getting into the bargaining aspect of shopping in China.  Many of the students come back with tells of the great deals they got by being willing to walk away. Other students try to stay with someone that is willing to deal because they feel so guilty to ask someone to take a lower price.

A couple of us decided to take the motorized double seated bike to get to lunch.

This evening we had a concert at one of the more modern church buildings.  Afterwards the congregation broke into prayer groups.  We had the opportunity to pray for people and the Spirit of the Lord moved our hearts.

Quick story – one of the students asked me if we ate dog the day we went to hot pot.  I said of course not why would you think that?  She said that Doc had told her that some of the meat was mutton.  lol

To hear more about the China Trip ‘like’ the music department on facebook.

VSB China Trip – First Concert

Today we headed for the Summer Palace, which is really a very large garden that the “Dragon Lady” an Empress had constructed.  Many of us wrote our names with water on the cement and had the locals write them in Chinese script. We walked the gardens and then took a boat ride back across the gardens.  The older locals meet once a week to sing and we were fortunate to catch them.

For lunch we were treated to Peking duck, now known as Beijing duck and then we packed up and headed for the first concert of the tour.  The building was packed out with the worship anointed.  Dr. Melton spoke on running the race and keeping our eyes fixed on the goal of Jesus.

We left the church around 9:30pm and ate at McDonald’s.

To hear more about the China Trip ‘like’ the music department on facebook.

VSB China Trip – Day 3

Great WallToday was another beautiful day in Beijing.  We headed for the Great Wall where some of us took the ski lift ride up and the majority walked to the top.  Brody moved so fast that he beat us that were riding up.  The wall runs the crest of the mountain so the view either direction is spectacular.  TebowingThe men decided that they needed to stop and thank God for His care and took the ‘Tebow’ pose to do so.

IMG_0560We tobogganed down from the Wall and headed to lunch at Subway that was at the base of the Great Wall.  We loaded back up on the bus and headed to the Olympic Stadium where we stood between the Bird’s Nest and the Bubble Swimming area. The students entertained the Chinese by singing in the Square and then jumping in the water show.

We went to the market and bartered for treasures and ended the day by eating at “hot pot” and singing Happy Birthday to May.

Birds NestIMG_0567 IMG_0573

To follow what is happening on tour please ‘like’ the music facebook page.