Anaheim Fire & Rewcue and the Anaheim Police Department team together for a 15th anniversary 9-11 remembrance ceremony at at the City National Grove of Anaheim.

University Concert Choir Requested to Perform at 9/11 Ceremony

By Greg Hardesty
Photos by- Debbie Lefever
Original article:

At 9/11 memorial ceremony in Anaheim, officials urge a call to community action

It was a lot for the 14-year-old to take in. Matthew Galinda could have been at the beach or at the movies or just chilling with friends Sunday afternoon but instead, he spent a chunk of the day soaking up disturbing images and hearing about the horrible toll of a day he’s heard a lot about but wasn’t around to endure first hand: 9/11. Walking out of the hour-long National Day of Service and Remembrance at the City National Grove of Anaheim on the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, Galinda and his buddies made a beeline to the nearly 40 tables representing local non-profit organizations to learn how he could give back to his community. Anaheim Fire and Rescue Chief Randy Bruegman gives his speech during Anaheim’s 9-11 remembrance ceremony at the City National Grove of Anaheim. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC For while Sunday’s event, hosted by Anaheim Fire & Fire Rescue and the Anaheim PD, primarily was to honor the people who died and were injured that terrible day — nearly 3,000 people killed, including 343 firefighters and 72 members of law enforcement — the ceremony this year also was a call to action for people to volunteer to make their communities better. Matthew and a half-dozen of his pals, all students of Loara High School in Anaheim, signed volunteer pledge forms to donate at least one hour of their time each month to the Orange County Family Justice Center, which provides services to people whose lives have been touched by child abuse, domestic violence, elder/dependent adult abuse, or sexual assault. At another table, Dylan Chylinski, 12, was with his mother, Pamela, learning about the Orange County Rescue Mission and volunteer opportunities. Members of Anaheim Fire & Rescue gather for Anaheim’s 9-11 remembrance ceremony at the City National Grove of Anaheim. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC “I want to give (back),” Dylan said. Said his mother: “Awareness is everything.” Join. Remember. Give Back. That was the theme of the 15th National Day of Service and Remembrance, which included tales of bravery from cops and firefighters to ordinary citizens on one of the darkest days in U.S. history, as well as mentions of recent terrorist events including the mass-shooting in San Bernardino 10 months ago that claimed 14 lives and seriously injured nearly two dozen. The event was moved this year from the Grand Plaza at the Convention Center to The Grove in anticipation of more than 1,000 attendees, and the venue was full. Anaheim Police & Fire Joint Honor Guard presents the colors at the start of Anaheim’s 9-11 remembrance ceremony at the City National Grove of Anaheim. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC “Today we are here to remember to honor and to give back to our community so that those lives lost…are never forgotten,” said emcee Rick Martinez, a retired Anaheim PD sergeant. Anaheim PD Chaplain Kerry Duerr, in his invocation, said: “We remember the unfortunate state of a world filled with hostility and hate, death and destruction, but we also remember those who serve by giving themselves to rescue and protect people in this hostile world…. “We remember the heartaches and the sacrifices and we give thanks to the many who acted heroically that day. Oh God of grace, comfort those who still mourn on this day.” The Vanguard University Concert Choir performed the national anthem as well as “The Prayer” and “God Bless the USA,” and Holly Cahill, daughter of Anaheim PD Deputy Chief Dan Cahill, performed her original composition, “You Still Put the Uniform On.” Anaheim police officers, including Anaheim PD Deputy Chief Dan Cahill, left, salute as the colors are posted during Anaheim’s 9-11 remembrance ceremony. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC Anaheim Police Chief Raul Quezada recounted the heroic and selfless efforts on 9/11 of rookie NYPD Officer Jose Torres, who originally was scheduled to attend Sunday’s event in Anaheim but whose current duties as an elite counterterrorism specialist prevented him from coming to Orange County. Torres was off duty on Sept. 11, 2001, but he worked around to the clock at Ground Zero for 24 hours straight and for the following three weeks, including weathering the gruesome task of search and rescue and being assigned to a temporary morgue. “What gets us through (tragedies) is the people — it’s people united,” Quezada said. “It was people who stood up to terrorists on the plane that September day. It was people who rushed to the aid of those stranded in the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, and…the first responders who rushed to aid those in need. They ran into danger, driven by a desire to help.” The Vanguard University Concert Choir sings God Bless the U.S.A. at the conclusion of Anaheim’s 9-11 remembrance ceremony at the City National Grove of Anaheim. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC Quezada said Torres “taught us we have a responsibility to each other and to our community. We must get involved and care and support one other.” Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait emphasized the need for people to reach out and serve their communities to honor the victims of 9/11. Tait played the short film “Boatlift,” which recounted the dramatic evacuation of more than 500,000 people from lower Manhattan in the span of nine hours during and after the Twin Towers collapsed after being hit by planes hijacked by terrorists. He spoke of the “9/11” generation of young people like Galinda who have grown up with heightened security, war and constant vigilance. Anaheim Police Chief Raul Quezada gives his speech during Anaheim’s 9-11 remembrance ceremony at the City National Grove of Anaheim. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC “But you’re not cynical,” Tait said of this generation. “You are engaged, responsible and kind.” Anaheim Fire & Rescue Chief Randy Bruegman recounted the experience of witnessing that horrible day, which he called “a day of transformation for our nation and our world.” Bruegman told the audience: “Your presence here today demonstrates the unity and respect that we all have for the lives that were lost that day…that’s why it’s so important that we gather to honor and remember the countless acts of courage, strength and compassion that followed that fateful day.” Touching upon a terrorist event closer to home, Bruegman introduced two first responders who personally responded to the Dec. 2, 2015 terrorist attack in San Bernardino, San Bernardino PD Lt. Mike Madden and San Bernardino County Fire Department Engineer/Paramedic Ryan Starling. Anaheim Fire and Rescue Chief Randy Bruegman gives his speech during Anaheim’s 9-11 remembrance ceremony at the City National Grove of Anaheim. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC The two received a sustained ovation, as did military veterans and those currently serving who were asked to stand to be recognized. Sunday afternoon’s ceremony also included a “Last Alarm” ceremony, a tradition that signals when a firefighter has died in the line of duty in which a bell is ringed five times in three consecutive cycles, and the laying of a memorial wreath to honor those who died on 9/11. And then dozens of people visited the tables to learn about volunteer opportunitieSaid Elsa Covarrubias, at Anaheim Fire & Rescue: “The service puts the honor and remembering into action.” For more information, please visit OneOC’s 9/11 Day of Service & Remembrance page. Anaheim Police and Anaheim Fire & Rescue display their presents in front of the City National Grove of Anaheim as people arrive for Anaheim’s 9-11 remembrance ceremony. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC Anaheim Fire and Rescue Chief Randy Bruegman, left, talks about the tradition of the ringing of the bell for the Last Alarm Ceremony as part of Anaheim’s 9-11 remembrance ceremony at the City National Grove of Anaheim. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC The ringing of the bell, part of Last Alarm Ceremony for firefighters who gave their live in the line of duty, is performed during Anaheim’s 9-11 remembrance ceremony at the City National Grove of Anaheim. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC Anaheim Police Chief Raul Quezada, left, and Anaheim Fire and Rescue Chief Randy Bruegman salute during after the laying of the memorial wreath during Anaheim’s 9-11 remembrance ceremony at the City National Grove of Anaheim. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC Holly Cahill, daughter of Anaheim Police Deputy Chief Dan Cahill, sings a song she wrote “You Still Put The Uniform On”, near the conclusion of Anaheim’s 9-11 remembrance ceremony at the City National Grove of Anaheim. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC Hannah Efsits, left, and Aaron Leppke sing with the Vanguard University Concert Choir during Anaheim’s 9-11 remembrance ceremony at the City National Grove of Anaheim. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC Anaheim Fire & Rescue Explorers hand out plastic fire hats and information about career opportunities at the conclusion of Anaheim’s 9-11 remembrance ceremony. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC Anaheim Police Explorers hand out information about job opportunities at the police department as guest leave The Grove at the conclusion of Anaheim’s 9-11 remembrance ceremony. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC


Vanguard Singers and Band Summer Tour Recap

The show keeps going here at the Vanguard University Music Department! One of Vanguard’s music ensembles completed a summer tour through California, Oregon, and Washington. The Vanguard Singers and Band toured for eight days throughout the Pacific Northwest to close out the 2015/16 school year.

_MG_7131The Vanguard Singers and band are made up of singers and instrumentalists ranging across many of Vanguard’s academic majors. While it is a music performance group, the members of the group are also selected based on their desire to spread the gospel and further the mission of Vanguard. The diversity of majors and personalities makes the group a very unique thing to be a part of–especially on tours.


Janelle Harriman, Worship Studies ’16

Concerts were held at several schools and churches throughout the Northwest beginning at Liberty Church of the Nazarene (the church one our newest music alumni Janelle Harriman).  Other locations included Kingsway Christian School, Three Rivers Christian School, First Baptist Grass Valley, and First Assembly of God Victorville. The tour spanned over 2,500 miles and eight days. 

As summer continues, the groups remains dominant until the fall when it will begin touring Southern California again performing concerts for churches and schools. The group will continually perform throughout the 2016/17 school year so stay tuned for upcoming concert locations!




Want to book an ensemble?

_MG_0704Want to book a music group for your next event?  Vanguard University has an array of ensembles to choose from, each featuring our talented students and renowned directors, from our large choirs, to our small vocal groups, to our instrumental ensembles.

We have performed at numerous churches and schools, whether through one-day visits in the local Southern California regions, tour stops throughout our surrounding states (including Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Arizona), or even through international trips to China, Europe, the Philippines and Argentina.  Additionally, our larger venue performances have included Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Times Square Church, Cathedral of St. John the Divine, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and the U.S. Naval Academy.


  • Be it a school assembly, church service, special event, high-profile reception…

From classical to religious, from oldies to contemporary…

The point is, whatever you need for your event, we have something just for you!



Now you might ask, “Which ensemble is best for my event?”  Of course, some groups are more obvious on their fit for your setting, such as our Concert Choir and Women’s Chorus.  In fact, most of our ensembles are very versatile to present a classical concert or lead a worship service or both, including our University Orchestra which also features a stage band and singers!  So just to give you an idea, if you’re looking for…

  • A small, professional vocal ensemble for special music or worship service?  LIFEsong can meet your need!
  • A flashback of jazz, swing, big band and various entertainment?  Our Jazz Combo and Jazz Ensemble are perfect for the job!
  • A multi-cultural flavor for an evening concert or high-profile reception?  Our Guitar Ensemble has what it takes!
  • A combination of select vocalists and instrumentalists for a worship concert or community outreach?  Vanguard Singers and Band would be a great choice!

SliderThen there’s our Barbershop and Beautyshop Quartets, Chamber Music, Percussion Ensemble, Strings Quartet…and the list goes on!

If you would like to book any of our ensembles, please simply complete our Concert Request Form, providing any details you want to help paint a picture of what you are looking for.  It will go straight to one of our concert coordinators, and they will make sure we get you what you need!

_MG_1443-EditOr if you simply have questions or would like to ask about our ensembles, festivals, tours, and other events, please don’t hesitate to contact our coordinators directly:

  • Email:
  • Phone: 714-619-6410

The aim of our Department of Music is to bless you and glorify Christ.  We hope to see you at your next event!

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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.

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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!


The 2016 Spring Concert with William and Rosephanye Powell

The Vanguard University Concert Choir had the unique opportunity to work with Dr. Rosephanye and Dr. William Powell in their presentation of the 2016 Spring Concert at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church. The choir performed two major pieces written by Rosephanye Powell including the premiere of “The Gospel Trinity” preceded by “The Cry of Jeremiah.”

_MG_6388The Cry of Jeremiah is a four-movement work originally commissioned for the 2012 American Guild of Organists convention. It is based textually on the 20th chapter of Jeremiah and outlines the struggle of Jeremiah throughout his prophetic calling. The verses referenced throughout the piece are Jeremiah 20:7-9, Jeremiah 20:14-18, and Jeremiah 20:11-13. The prophet Jeremiah, having experienced ridicule and imprisonment because of his prophecies, laments his present state.


_MG_6353“The Gospel Trinity” is a musical expression of one of the primary tenets of Christian Theology written by Rosephanye Powell. It was directed by Dr. Ed Willmington. It gave musical representation to the three parts of the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

The concert was sponsored by Dr. Ed Willmington and the Fred Bock Institute of Music, Brehm Center for Worship, Theology, and the Arts at Fuller Theological Seminary.


Rosephanye 2color pub photo Dr. Rosephanye Dunn Powell has been hailed as one of America’s premier women composers of choral music. She has an impressive catalogue of works published by some of the nation’s  leading publishers, including the Hal Leonard Corporation, the Fred Bock Music Company/Gentry Publications, Oxford University Press, Alliance Music Publications, and Shawnee. Dr.  Powell is commissioned yearly to compose for university choruses, professional, community and church choirs, as well as secondary school choruses.  Dr. Powell’s works have been conducted  and premiered by nationally-renowned choral conductors, including, but not limited to, Anton Armstrong, Philip Brunelle, Bob Chilcott, Rodney Eichenberger, Tom Hall, Albert McNeil, Tim  Seelig, André Thomas and Judith Willoughby.  Her work has been auctioned by Chorus America and her compositions are in great demand at choral festivals around the country, frequently  appearing on the regional and national conventions of the American Choral Directors Association, as well as Honor Choir festivals.  Dr. Powell’s compositions include sacred and secular  works for mixed chorus, women’s chorus, men’s chorus, and children’s voices. Dr.  Powell serves as Professor of Voice at Auburn University.  She holds degrees from The Florida State  University (D.M. in vocal performance, University Fellow), Westminster Choir College (M.M. in vocal performance and pedagogy, with distinction), and Alabama State University (B.M.E.,  summa cum laude). Dr. Powell served on the faculties of Philander Smith College (AR) and Georgia Southern University prior to Auburn University.

DSC_0784_edit3 Dr. William C. Powell, Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities, holds degrees from Alabama State University (B.M.E.), Westminster Choir College (M.M.E.), and Florida State University  (Ph.D.). Prior to his arrival at Auburn University in 2001 as assistant director of choral activities, he was director of choral activities at Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas, 1993-2001. At  Auburn, Powell conducts the Chamber, Concert, Gospel and Men’s Choirs, and teaches choral-related undergraduate, graduate, and distance courses. Powell is in demand as a choral conductor. In 2013, he  will serve as a conductor and workshop clinician for the Melbourne International Singers Festival in Melbourne, Australia. And in 2014, the Auburn University Choirs will be presented in the New York  premier of The Cry of Jeremiah by Rosephanye Powell (who will also serve as composer in residence and narrator) with William Powell as guest conductor.

Ed Willmington BREHM pic #1

 Dr. Edwin (Ed) M. Willmington (D.M.A.) is the Director of the Fred Bock Institute of Music, Brehm Center for Worship, Theology, and the Arts, at Fuller Theological Seminary, where he also holds the title  of Composer-in-Residence.  He served as Pastor of Worship and Arts at Scottsdale Bible Church in Arizona for 22 years, where his leadership influenced and  trained several generations of worship leaders. Ed  has also taught at Point Loma Nazarene University, served on a hymnal advisory board, and been the recipient of ASCAP awards for his  compositional works. Some of his recent compositions include the  commissioned work, Jubilate! An Ancient-Future Concert Mass, and Reconciled in Christ, music for the Lausanne  Congress gathering in Cape Town, South Africa. Ed’s desire is to challenge and equip musical  artists and worship leaders to creatively use their gifts for the worship of God.


Dr. James L. Melton is Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Vanguard University.  In addition to teaching in the areas of music education, worship, and conducting, he directs the 72-voice University Concert Choir and the Vanguard Singers & Band, a select ensemble of 24 vocalists and instrumentalists. Both these ensembles present concerts throughout the western United States, and tour each year both nationally and internationally, most recently in Western Europe and the People’s Republic of China.  As a guest conductor for festival choirs & orchestras in New York City, he has conducted Vivaldi’s Gloria, G.F. Händel’s Coronation Anthems, and Mendelssohn’s Psalm 42 for Carnegie Hall and Schubert’s Mass in G and the premiere of contemporary composer Dan Forrest’s Te Deum at the Lincoln Center (Avery Fisher Hall). The VU Concert Choir has presented command choral performances at both the Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall and has often been featured on past national and international telecasts of the “Hour of Power”.  His various ensembles have 15 recording projects to their credit.

Mildred Yi-Orch

Assistant Professor Mildred Yi Represents Vanguard at National Music Education Conference

Vanguard University Music Department’s Assistant Professor Mildred Yi,  presented a study on music teacher education at the 2016 National Association for Music Education (NAfME) Music Research and Teacher Education, Atlanta, Georgia on Friday, March 18. The research poster was titled, “Practice Teacher Performance Assessment for Preservice Music Teachers” This study examines the inter-judge reliability of a practice teacher performance assessment designed as a learning tool for preservice music teachers. The modified assessment rubric is intended to serve as a preparation for the Educative Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA), a novice teacher evaluation system developed by Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning and Equity (SCALE), which many states have recently adopted to serve as a measure of readiness for the profession.

Click here to see a synopsis of Professor Yi’s presentation.

Last month, Professor Yi was featured at the California All-State Education Conference in San Jose, CA. Below is the article discussing her involvement in the conference.

guitar festival

Recap: 2016 Guitar & Jazz Festivals

On Saturday, February 27th, Vanguard University hosted its third annual Guitar and Jazz Festivals. Vanguard’s campus was buzzing with excitement from all of the local middle school, high school, and community college participants. This year, the two unique festivals welcomed over 200 participants!

2016 Guitar FestivalTrio camino

The Guitar Festival kicked off with a recital on Friday night, featuring Trio Camino. Trio Camino is the collaboration of three masters of the classical guitar, including David Grimes, Dr. Gregory Newton, and Vanguard’s very own, Professor Michael Nigro.

Saturday morning, guest conductor, Chuck Hulihan, led all of the participants in a joint rehearsal to prepare for the evening concert.

guitar festival 2
In the afternoon, the acclaimed voice/guitar duo Crouse Denman performed, followed by simultaneous sessions including a master class with Matt Denman, a jazz improv workshop with Duane Broberg, a flamenco workshop with Walter Molina, and mock auditions with P
rofessor Nigro and Dr. Gregory Newton.

The evening gala concert consisted of each school performing for one another and then all participants performed the final pieces Ballad and Tango together. We would like to especially thank La Mirada High School, Orange County School of the Arts, Riverside Community College, Santa Maria High School, Benton Middle School/Los Coyotes Middle School, Cypress College, and all of our guest clinicians for making this festival such a success!

2016 Jazz Festival

DSC_0425[1] smallThe Jazz Festival jumped right into the morning performances and adjudications at the festival concert stage, welcoming the jazz bands of Estancia High School, Calvary Murrieta Christian School, Heritage Christian School, and Bakersfield Christian School.  Each performance session featured 2-3 selections from the school’s repertoire, followed by a debrief clinic by our guest adjudicators: Elliot Deutsch, Ronald Kobayashi and Jonathan Rowden.

After enjoying lunch at Vanguard’s Cafe, the participants then attended one of our workshops DSC_0580[3] smallat various locations on campus, also facilitated by our adjudicators, covering brass, sax, woodwinds and rhythm techniques.

To finish off the day, everyone reconvened at the festival concert stage to enjoy a special performance by Vanguard’s Jazz Ensemble and Combo, under the direction of Dr. Kenneth Foerch.  In between pieces, awards were presented to recognize outstanding soloists as well as entire groups from among the visiting schools.

DSC_0611[3] smallOur deepest thanks go out to the participants and directors, the guest adjudicators, and of course our very own faculty, staff and students to help make this event possible!

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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.



Fantasia Faculty Q&A




Sure, we at the Music Department know each of our awesome faculty is good at what they do.  But what else do they enjoy?  Each year before Fantasia, we like to highlight one of our professors and get to know a little more about them.  This year, we asked our beloved Professor Mildred Yi some fun questions (and added some handy links for your enjoyment).  Check it out!


Music Dept: What is your favorite Christmas carol?
Yi: The First Noel


Music Dept: What is one of your best Christmas memories?
Yi: Celebrating first Christmases with my children


Music Dept: What Christmas tradition or activity do you enjoy the most?
Yi: My children get a special book for each Christmas


Music Dept: What was one of the best Christmas presents you received?
Yi: Getting a Pound Puppy (stuffed animal) with a red sweatshirt


Music Dept: What is a random fact about you that people probably wouldn’t guess?
Yi: Hiked in the Himalayas, like to eat jellyfish


And now a question for you:


Have you been to our annual Christmas Fantasia yet?


If your answer is “No”, then you’re in a for a real treat!  
If you’re answer is “Yes”, then you’ve probably been excited all year for the next one!


Either way, we invite you, your family and your friends to join us as our faculty and students all come together to bring in the holiday season and celebrate the birth of our King!  Click here for more information on this fantastic concert! | (714) 966-5441 |