The above video represents a throwback to two different times of my life all at once. The video was from the Azusa Pacific University Choir and Orchestra’s 30th Anniversary Concert from a couple of years ago. There are so many people in this video whom I went to college with, sang with in this music group, and played in the orchestra with in this music group that it brings back the good ol’ days when I was a music major at Azusa Pacific University dreaming of being a trumpet player in a symphony orchestra. Oh to dream again! I loved my time at APU for so many reasons. The University Choir and Orchestra was the premiere group to be involved with back then. It represented the best of the music department. We performed almost every weekend of the school year. Also, we took a weekend trip either to Arizona or Northern California in the fall semester. After graduation, we did a two-week tour that alternated between going up the west coast into British Columbia, Canada or going across the Southern United States. Also, we would spend time each year in the recording studio on campus for at least one recording per year. It was good times.
My participation in this wonderful music group was as a singer and in the orchestra. During my first full year at Azusa Pacific University, I sang in the choir (even though I was a music-trumpet performance major). Dr. Gary Bonner had started this group when he started at Azusa Pacific University as the Dean of the School of Music. My year in the choir started with his last semester as the director of the group and dean of the school of music. The guy who took over directing this group is Al Clift. When you watch the video, he’s the guy conducting during this concert. Al was not only the director of this group for most of the time I was in it, but also was my Music Theory I professor. He’s a good guy and a great professor. I think that the best teachers are the ones who not only get the job done as far as getting the required material taught, but can find whatever they need to do in order to get you to learn that material. To do the latter requires you to truly invest in the lives of your students. Al did this very well. I only mention him here because, last week, he got some very bad news. He’s been battling cancer and other physical problems for a while now. Last week, we learned that the cancer had returned and it returned with a vengeance. A lot of my fellow APU classmates have taken to Facebook to offer their memories as a tribute to this man of God. I wanted to do the same here.
The video represents what I want to remember Al by…his heart and artistry as a conductor. It is also a video of my favorite song to sing while I was at APU. This song, I Have Seen the Light, has been sung a lot by the choirs at APU over the years. So much, that they ended up retiring it at some point. There have been many different trios over the years who sang this awesome song. It was probably hard for them to decide which trio should sing it at the 30th Anniversary concert. So, you have two sets of trios for this concert. Hearing this song brings back so many good memories of times where I got to sing it. It’s a Christmas song that transcends Christmas. I know that not everyone reading this or listening to the song is a Christian. That’s okay. I don’t think God wants us to force belief on anyone. So, please don’t take this post as one where I’m forcing my beliefs onto you. However, my faith is a part of who I am. So, it will come out from time to time. Thank you for letting me take this trip down memory road. I didn’t get to sing in this concert because I didn’t think I could make it to the rehearsals and completely regret missing them. However, I did attend the concert on which this song was recorded. So, it’s truly a double throwback Thursday for me. A time to relive this wonderful concert from a couple of years ago and a time to remember my involvement with this group that I both sang and played trumpet for back in the 1990’s.