Big things in Bell for fine arts Department
MNU’s department of Fine and Performing Arts has added a worship arts major, pep band and a theater club. The university heritage choir has also been accepted to perform for the Kansas Music Educators Association.
Dr. Donna Bohn, Chair of the Department of Fine and Performing Arts, said, the creation of a worship arts major has been in consideration for a long time.
”Even when I first came, I was like, how can we connect ... into what we felt was a fundamental need as a Christian university?” Bohn said. “Why do we not have something that is supporting this component of Christian ministry?”
The worship arts major has been put into effect this year. Four students have already declared this major. Dr. Christopher Smith, Director of Choral Activities and Assistant Professor of Music, said that the department finally has the personnel and experience required to make such a major.
“It’s time,” Smith said. He brings 13 years of worship ministry experience to MNU, experience that has helped formulate the curriculum of the major.
MNU’s pep band has also restarted after years of absence, with the addition of a drum line. The return of the pep band comes as a request from many different facets of campus, including the president.
“Drum line has been a request from Dr. [David] Spittal since I arrived,” Bohn said. She said that several athletic coaches have approached the department about the addition of a pep band.
This band will play a variety of pieces at MNU home games starting with the women’s basketball game versus Benedictine College (Kansas) on Nov. 29.
“It really bridges that gap between athletics and music,” Dr. Luke Johnson, Director of Bands and Music Education, said. “We’re on opposite ends of campus here and don’t always have a lot of interaction. I think it’s important for us to be involved in each others’ lives a little bit more.”
MNU also added a theater club this year, which has expanded to be 52 members strong. This student-led club strives to incorporate any student interested in theater.
“The theater program is expanding like crazy,” Bohn said. “That part of the department has been ballooning and it’s absolutely fantastic.” She said, later speaking about the campus musical and the improvisational acting team.
The university musical this year was opened up for community members to audition. This year’s musical, Sondheim’s “Into the Woods,” is noted by Bohn to be one of the largest shows ever to be produced by MNU.
“[A community musical] allows the students who are here in the department to make connections and get to know people in the community, as well as allow us to do a bigger show than we would be able to do with our smaller department,” Heather Tinker, Director of Theater, said.
This year, the heritage choir was invited to sing for the Kansas Music Educators Association. This is the first time in MNU’s history that this honor has been extended to one of its choirs. MNU was only one of four colleges selected to perform in front of band and choir directors from high school and collegiate levels, as well as high school and college students.
“It’s kind of like a competition,” Smith said. “Sports would have a state playoff or conference championship; this is kind of the way it works for us.”
Alex Schmitt- More by this author
Alex Schmitt is a History at MidAmerica Nazarene University, and he is also the news editor for The Trailblazer.