Newsletter for Music Department, August 22, 2014

Hello, everyone!  Sorry these first two posts are a little behind in the times but here we go!  This was our first newsletter from the first week of school two weeks ago.  I’ll be posting the new one every Friday, so, stay tuned!

8 22 14 Newsletter

Should you have any questions about anything on there OR if you would like more info on shows, etc, please ask me!  My number is 601.974.6494 and my email is   Thanks, everyone!

Press Release from Shining Light Ministries:

August 22, 2013

Press Release: Five Belhaven University Students Participate in a Summer Ministry Tour to Northeastern US Correctional Facilities

In spring 2013, five students from Belhaven University were among thirty students from across the United States chosen by Shining Light Ministries to be a part of a select performing arts ministry team for their summer Impact Tour.  Shining Light’s mission is to expand perspective and impact lives by taking a high-quality performing arts production to people in correctional facilities.  This year’s itinerary included Rikers Island in New York City, Riverside Women’s Correctional Facility in Philadelphia, Maine State Prison and 6 other youth and adult facilities throughout the Northeastern US. The three-week tour had a dual purpose of bringing hope through Jesus Christ to residents in these facilities and expanding the student participants’ perspective of the world, themselves, and God.


Shining Light received excellent audience responses at all the facilities. Comments from inmates such as, “Your coming here meant a lot to us; it meant hope, strength and encouragement,” “It’s comforting to know I’m not by myself, and to know that other people are praying and thinking about us…God makes sure we know He remembers us,” “…you’ll never truly realize what a difference it makes to us…,” are an indication of the impact Shining Light events had among the 1,500+ people seen in audiences. Facility staffs are also affected through these events. After the performance for nearly 300 women at Philadelphia’s Riverside Correctional Facility, Warden Terence Clark stated, “I find it amazing that we have kids of that age to actually come inside and be willing to help another person.  It’s very inspiring…”


Equally importantly is how the college students who prepare and present these programs are impacted. As they meet and sometimes shake hands with inmates in maximum security prisons or youth in juvenile facilities, they discover the humanity of every person there. Here are some participants’ responses to this unique opportunity to visit a part of our society that is often ignored or forgotten:

“(I’ve learned) we’re all people, it doesn’t matter what side we’re on… I’ve been completely transformed by the people I’ve been able to meet in these facilities.”

“I came into this experience thinking that I was gonna do the population of inmates a favor, or do God a favor by gracing people with my talent, and quickly God humbled me… Literally every day God opened my eyes to new things, about me, about my relationship with Him and about His grace.”


Recent Belhaven graduate Roddy Merritt ‘13 commented, “As a lead singer, this has been training for a future in music… It has redirected my focus in how I use my music and who my music reaches.” Dance major Melody Stowe ’16, found that the experience reinforced her career goals, “I’ve known for a while that I want to use dance to minister, or go into dance therapy. This Tour affirmed that.” Another participant, Stephanie Morales, had long desired to be a part of Belhaven’s dance program but doubted her ability to measure up to Belhaven’s high standards. With a new confidence gained on the tour, in July she applied to Belhaven and was accepted as a dance major.


Shining Light Ministries began in 1996 and has done presentations in 54 correctional facilities in 23 states. In the past, students were only recruited from schools in Pennsylvania. This was the first tour done with students recruited nationally, with participants from 15 colleges and universities in 9 states. The need for performing arts mission opportunities to enable students to put their skills to use in ministry has Shining Light planning more tours of this kind in the future and seeking opportunities to work more closely with colleges with performing arts program.


Students participating from Belhaven University included:

Roddy Merritt ’13 Music Ministries & Biblical Studies

Stephanie Morales ’16 Dance

Justin Nipper ’16 Music Ministries

Melody Stowe ’16 Dance

Travis White Biblical Studies ’15



Colleges and universities with participants in the 2013 Northeastern Impact Tour:

Abilene Christian University, Abilene, Texas

Anderson University, Anderson, Indiana

Azusa Pacific University, Azusa, California

Belhaven University, Jackson, Mississippi

Capital University, Columbus, Ohio

Clarion University, Clarion, Pennsylvania

Eastern University, St. Davids, Pennsylvania

East Stroudsburg University, East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania

Hinds Community College, Rankin, Mississippi

Houghton College, Houghton, New York

The Julliard School, New York City, New York

Lebanon Valley College, Annville, Pennsylvania

Messiah College, Grantham, Pennsylvania

North Park University, Chicago, Illinois

Palm Beach Atlantic University, West Palm Beach, Florida


Facilities visited:

Long Creek Youth Development Center, South Portland, Maine

Maine State Prison, Warren, Maine

Mountain View Youth Development Center, Charleston, Maine

Charleston Correctional Facility, Charleston, Maine

Sununu Youth Services Center, Manchester, New Hampshire

Metropolitan Youth Services, Dorchester, Massachusetts

George Motcham Detention Center, Rikers Island, New York

Robert N. Davoren Center, Rikers Island, New York

Riverside Correctional Facility, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Glen Mills School, Glen Mills, Pennsylvania


Approximate number of inmates/facility residents seen: 1,535


Average Community Service Hours volunteered by participants: 180

Total Community Service Hours: 7,280


Cost per Student: $7,485

Each Student’s Financial Responsibility: $750 plus travel expenses to and from the tour start & finish

Primary Sources of Funding for the Ministry: Individual and Corporate Contributors, Grants


All Participants Received “President’s Volunteer Service Awards” for their community service, including awards, certificates of service, and congratulatory letters from President Obama.


More information is available at, the Shining Light Facebook site ( OR contact Jeffrey Bohn, Executive Director at 717-926-4138.


Shining Light Ministries

1600 North State Route 934

Annville, Pennsylvania  17003


BU String students honored in national summer festivals:

1) Jocelyn Zhu, a BU senior violin student (5th year), has been awarded an apprentice position—–a paid student leader position at the Orchestra program of The Masterworks Festival in Indiana.

2) Jocelyn Zhu was a finalist in the College/Post-College Concerto Competition at Masterworks Festival performing the Prokofiev Violin Concerto magnificently. Jocelyn shared “finalist status” with other top college/graduate students from many of the best schools in the nation including the New England Conservatory of Music) . There was no string student selected as a winner from this year’s competition. Jocelyn represented Belhaven wonderfully.

3) Shellie Brown, a BU Music graduate, Spring 2012) and Jocelyn Zhu were accepted by audition to the prestigious Aspen Summer Music Festival in CO this summer.

Congratulations to these fine violinists and their professor, Mr. Song Xie.

Best of Belhaven II participants (April 2013)

Belhaven University’s Music Department awarded several students with Music Awards at the 2013 Best of Belhaven II Concert on April 15, 2013 at the Center for the Arts Concert Hall.

Dr. Stephen Sachs, Professor of Piano and Music Department Chair, said, “Best of Belhaven II highlights the finest work of our student musicians each semester, with a smorgasbord of musical treats–everything from piano works, instrumental pieces and solo songs to chamber music, musical theatre, and new compositions.”


The awards are as follows:


Exemplary Accompanist Music Award:  Maggie McLinden and Kaitlin Rowan

Maggie McLinden is from Colorado Springs, CO and is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Music with an emphasis in Piano Performance.  Maggie is scheduled to give her senior recital in the early fall.  After she graduates, she hopes to pursue graduate school for piano performance.

Kaitlin Rowan from Owings, MD and is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Music with an emphasis in Collaborative Piano and Piano Pedagogy.  Kaitlin is entering her senior year and served as Belhaven’s Community Outreach Coordinator from 2011 to 2013.  In the fall, she will be a resident assistant.


Exemplary Composition Music Award: Libby Roberts

Libby Roberts, a senior, is from Ballston Spa, NY and is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Music with an emphasis in Composition.  This past spring semester she gave her junior piano recital.  While piano is her primary instrument, her compositions incorporate a wide range of instruments and styles.


Exemplary Instrumental Music Award: Michael Adkins, saxophone

Michael Adkins is a senior and is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Music with an emphasis in Composition.  Before he studied at Belhaven, Michael lived in New York City working as a saxophonist and composer.  In 2005, he released  his debut album, Infotation , with his original compositions which would be followed by a second album, Rotator, featuring the legendary Paul Motian on drums alongside, Russ Lossing on piano and John Hebert on bass.


Exemplary Keyboard Music Award: Maggie McLinden (see bio above)


Exemplary String Music Award: Jocelyn Zhu

Jocelyn Zhu, a senior, is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Music with an emphasis in Violin Performance.  Jocelyn, a contract violinist for the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, has received many awards and honors.  In 2011, she was awarded First Prize Winner in the American Protégé Music Talent Competition held in New York City which gave her the opportunity to perform in Weill Recital Hall located in Carnegie Hall.  In addition, she was the winner of the 2008 Mississippi State MTNA Junior Strings Competition. In 2009, she was the winner of the 2009 CICAS Summer Music Festival Concerto Competition in Arkansas.


Exemplary Vocal Music Award: John Mathieu, bass-baritone

John Mathieu from Brewton, AL graduated this past spring semester in 2013 with a Bachelor of Music with an emphasis in Vocal Performance.  John has performed in many Belhaven concerts including leading roles in the Music Department’s opera productions.  In March 2012, he was awarded first place in the junior men’s classical category at the National Association of the Teachers of Singing Competition (NATS).  John plans to continue to take private lessons at Belhaven this coming year while exploring graduate school options.



Most Improved Musician Award: Cierra Lee, soprano and Tianna Rogers, piano

Cierra Lee, a junior, is from Grove City, OH and is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Music with an emphasis in Musical Theatre.  She has been featured in many Belhaven performances with most recently being Belhaven’s Choral and Vocal Arts performance of Jazz Vibrations.  Cierra is currently working on her junior recital and hopes to present it this fall.

Tianna Rogers is from Richardson, TX and is scheduled to complete her Bachelor of Arts in Music with an emphasis in Collaborative Piano and Piano Pedagogy this coming Spring 2014.  After she graduates, Tianna hopes to continue onto graduate school for Piano Pedagogy.


Music Service Award: Amanda Hester

Amanda Hester is from Meridian, MS and graduated in the spring of 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in Arts Administration.  Amanda has served the Music Department in various capacities since her freshman year.  She is currently working full-time with Employee Benefit Services, an insurance administrative services company, located in Jackson and volunteering with the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra.  She is also doing some work for another non-profit arts organization – the Christian Fellowship of Art Music Composers.

Spiritual Leadership Music Award: Grace Anna Randall and Kaitlin Rowan

Grace Anna Randall, a junior, is from Sharpsburg, GA and is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Music with an emphasis in Vocal Performance.  Grace Anna has performed in many Belhaven productions.  She is a work study for the Music Department and clearly displays her love for Christ to those around her.



Belhaven University’s Annual  2013 Honors Convocation on April 9, 2013 at the Center for the Arts Concert Hall awarded some of the highest academic honors to the year’s top performing students. Many academic awards were presented to students who not only achieved scholastic success, but also showed character, service and spiritual growth.  The Music Department presented two awards to the following recipients.

Music Excellence Award:  Kaitlin Rowan (see bio above)


Kingdom Transformation Music Award: Rodderick Merritt

Rodderick Merritt is from Laurel, MS and is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Music with an emphasis in Music Ministries at Belhaven University.  Rodderick has been most directly involved in kingdom transformation as the lead singer of the band SOMETHINGPOSITIVE.  He stated, “We are just a group of simple guys and simple musicians changed by the truth…We seek to challenge traditions and a new generation of people who are both Christians and non-Christians.”

Shining Lights

“Do Hard Things” was our theme on our Great Lakes Tour a few years ago. I don’t think I realized how deeply we plunged into that challenge n early a year ago with  a new step for Shining Light. Our goal was to offer this unique experience to students from across the US who wanted to serve in the challenging places we visit. We seek to impact our audiences, but perhaps even more importantly, we want these dynamic students from all corners of the United States to apply new and deeper understandings of our world, God and themselves in their lives and communities in the future.

We recruited at 14 colleges in 8 states, and 2 conferences. We spoke to approximately 1,000 students in 40 classes, chapels, and department meetings. From this we assembled a team of 31 outstanding students from 15 colleges and universities. We also found some new leadership to assist in creating our production.

Our “cast & crew” for our upcoming tour includes theater and dance majors from Juilliard in New York City, a screen writing major from Los Angeles, a spoken word artist from south Chicago, a Christian rock band from Mississippi, and many other very talented, engaging students.

They are a very select group who has been willing to put aside the comforts of home and an opportunity to recharge their bank account over the summer to go to places where nobody wants to go to share Jesus. Many have their own powerful stories of overcoming difficulties or losses in their lives.

The first challenge was saying “yes” in spite of 3 weeks away from a summer job, the costs of travel to and from the tour, and responsibility to raise part of the costs on top of their regular college expenses. They are finding God provides a way, but they have to take the first, sometimes very big, step. One girl in California got creative and raised over $2,000 to cover her flights and SL contribution. A theater major from Florida hesitantly pursued participation in spite of great family financial difficulties. His church was so excited that he had found a way to use his performing arts skills for ministry, they offered to cover all his costs! We, too, were stretched last fall when we saw the high costs of doing this and the limited income we could receive from college students. We had to make a ‘big ask’ of long-time supporters and they have been steping up to make this possible with very generous contributions.

Our Impact Tour begins on June 7 with a week of preparation and team building at the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine. Our first full program is at Maine State Prison on Fathers Day followed by youth facilities throughout New England, 2 days at Rikers Island, and Shining Light’s first visit to the large women’s correctional facility in Philadelphia.

Your prayers are greatly appreciated as this group of 40+ people challenges themselves and each other to do some rather “hard things” to expand God’s Kingdom. Bringing all this talent and energy together, and effectively teaching in one week what we learned to do over 16 years is going to challenge every single person on our team.

We are also seeking some additional financial assistance to make this happen. If you would like to help these hard-working students bring real hope and encouragement to over 1,000 people in the facilities we will visit in June, contributions can be done online at or mailed to Shining Light Ministries 1600 N St Rte 934 Annville, PA 17003.

Thank you for your support!

In His Service,

P.S. On Saturday June 29 we will offer our final presentation at Glen Mills School at 6 pm. This presentation is open to the public. More information, including directions to Glen Mills, will be posted soon on our website.

Lots Happening at Belhaven since January 1st…

Lots of Music Department faculty and student news, events (just) since January 1, 2013:


Paxton Girtmon, Director of Bands/Composer, just had several works published for different instrumental ensembles by Duma Music (Woodbridge, NJ)and Wehr’s Music House (Winter Park, FL) including

·         Adagio for Glass Harmonica K.356-Mozart, for Woodwind Quartet

·         Symphony 7, Allegretto, Movement 2-Beethoven, for Woodwind Quartet

·         Fugue in G Minor KV 401-Mozart, for Woodwind Quartet

·         The Entertainer-Scott Joplin, for Woodwind Ensemble


Sylvia Hong, pianist, played a solo recital in Phoenix, Arizona January 19.


Sylvia and her duo-piano partner and husband Michael Rector are finalists in the National Federation of Music Clubs Ellis Duo-Piano Competition and will compete for the top cash prize of $10,000 at Belhaven on April 6th.


Andrew Sauerwein, composer, attended the premiere of his new work, Sakharoviana (for violin, piano, and mixed percussion), in Oak Ridge, TN, in January of this year (the work was commissioned by percussionist Scott Eddlemon and the Oak Ridge Civic Music Association for a concert honoring Russian physicist Andrei Sakharov).


Andy’s organ chorale prelude on “O Sacred Head” will be presented by Belhaven student organist Joshua Nichols (who commissioned the piece for his senior recital) at the next conference of the Christian Fellowship of Art Music Composers (CFAMC), March 1-2 at Mississippi College.

Belhaven Opera Arts presented its fifth production, The Pied Piper of Hamlin by Seymour Barab, to five audiences of local school children, local families and public audiences January 18-19, 2013. Chris Shelt, voice, directed the cast of 6 voice students and 12 dancers from Belhaven’ Department of Dance. The dancers performed as the dreaded infestation of rats in Hamelin and then later appeared in different garb as the town’s children.


Stephen Sachs, pianist, was featured soloist performing Mozart’s Concerto in C Minor, K. 491 with the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra to a full house at Belhaven for the Mozart by Candlelight Concert February  2.


The Belhaven Piano Trio:  Song Xie, violinist + Stephen Sachs, pianist and Bennett Randman of the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra reprised their fall semester Belhaven Preston Music Series Concert at Tougaloo College January 23.



Three Belhaven student pianists, junior Tianna Rogers and freshmen Rachael McCartney and Heather Plyler competed in the Mississippi Music Teachers Association spring competitions last Saturday at Belhaven.  Heather Plyler placed 2nd and Rachael McCartney placed 3rd, both in the freshmen/sophomore division.


Belhaven alum (2012) violinist Shellie Brown represented MS in the Music Teachers National Association String Young Artist Competition in the Southeast Regional in North Carolina in January.
Belhaven senior violinist Jocelyn Zhu was also chosen to represent MS in the Music Teachers National Association in the Southeast Regional String Senior Division competition in January.  Jocelyn Zhu was a Semi-Finalist in the Schmidbauer International Strings Competition held in Texas in January.

Faculty Voice Recital – Mrs. Gena Everitt, soprano

Tuesday, February 19, 7:30pm, Concert Hall

Come enjoy a musical feast including songs of Mozart,

Brahms, Strauss, Debussy, and Duparc. Mrs. Everitt, BU

adjunct voice instructor for 10 years at Belhaven, has

performed several recitals for very appreciative Belhaven

audiences. Savor the marvelous piano accompaniments

of Colman Pearce, of Dublin, Ireland. Maestro Pearce was

conductor of the Mississippi Symphony for 13 years and

often returns to Jackson for collaborative performances.

Complimentary admission. Doors open at 7 pm.

The Pied Piper of Hamelin – A Children’s Opera

January 18 & 19

Opera Arts

Little Opera for Children:  The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Seymour Barab

Friday, January 18, 7:30 pm

Saturday, January 19, 10 am, 2:30 pm and 7:30 pm

Concert Hall

Ever hear the expression “You’ve got to pay the piper?”  It comes from a very old story dating from the Middle Ages about a Piper in a pied (multi-colored) outfit who has a flute endowed with magical powers. Belhaven Opera Arts is proud to produce another Seymour Barab operatic adaptation of the classic, The Pied Piper of Hamelin.  American Seymour Barab (1921-) received a Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Opera Association.  Kurt Vonnegut says: “Barab’s music is full of magic. He proved to an atheist that God exists.” Dr. Christopher Shelt and Belhaven Vocal Arts students present this clever oneact Barab classic. Saturday morning family matinee is sponsored by Mississippi Opera. Complimentary admission. Doors open 30 minutes before show time.