The Trinity Fellows Program (I’m in it!!!!)


Hello friends! I hope you are having a good spring! I heard it just snowed again in Chicago and it’s currently sleeting here in Charlottesville…..but the daffodils and crocuses are still blooming!!! I just wanted to send out one more quick plea for financial help; I am still about $1,200 short of my financial goal for this year’s program. If you would like to give, let me know! Thanks so much!!

More updates will be a’coming after this crazy Easter week is over! We will be having 5 services in the next 7 days!!! Hope you all have a blessed Easter!

Hey friends!

Guitar Picks, Suprise Blizzards and New York! (With pictures!!!!!)

I am officially done with my six grad school auditions and am waiting for the final word! Oreos, popcorn, red wine, and my pillow have been my best friend as I tried to simultaneously recover and jump back into the Fellows program. Our classes continue to be fascinating; I just took a midterm on Diognetus, Origin, and early Christian art and we will be discussing the famous french impersonator Frederic Pierre Bourdin along with some Tim Keller theologies in this Thursday’s evening class. I am organizing Trinity’s choral library, finding recordings of music Trinity does for congregants’ resources, and preparing and leading Sunday morning services. Last week, Fellows put aside our schedule and took off a day early for our New York City trip. We left just in time – power went out and businesses closed down that very same night in Charlottesville due to Winter Storm Saturn! We arrived safely and had a wonderful week of artful experiences!! A few highlights:

-Visiting the Brooklyn Tea Lounge for a professional jazz open mic night

-Meeting with professional dancer and devout Christian Lia Chavez, connected to the I.nternational A.rts M.ovement. She shared wisdom with us, reminding us that God doesn’t “force us into our calling”, but rather “woos us”. She encouraged us to pursue the ideas of abiding in God’s love and surrendering to the “still small voice”

-Visiting the Metropolitan Museum of art for some original Van Goghs, Manet’s, Monet’s, and Bollard’s

-Chelsea Gallery tour hosted by IAM: the experience of viewing modern art… Never left anything feeling quite as angry and offended before. Ask me if you want to talk more about this experience!

-Panel Discussions about what it means to work well and work hard with Redeemer Gotham Fellows

-Meeting with Spark and Echo productions, who are creating an artistic collaboration of the Bible by means of a growing international network of artists

-Meeting with Fay Sardjono from Restore, an organization of safe houses for woman saved from sex trafficking

-Meeting with painter Mako Fujimura of IAM

-Dinner at Dean’s in Tribeca and touring of Chelsea markets

-Walked the Highline, a renovated train trellis

-visited 9/11 memorial

-Sunday morning church at Redeemer downtown to hear and see Tim Keller preach on conversion

Prayers and financial aid would be appreciated as I continue to be running low on funds to finish paying for this amazing program.

Thanks for reading!

Silence Retreat!

After Christmas break I jumped right back into responsibilities and activities. My second Sunday back I was given the privilege to do an offertory, and I chose to sing Vaughan William”s “The Woodcutter’s Song.” My friend Shelby, a current University of Maryland pianist pursuing a doctorate in performance, accompanied me. The following Tuesday I drove to Maryland for an audition at the University of Maryland for M.M. studies in opera. The visit was fun and educational! I prepared more arias than I had ever prepared at one time before, and I presented a monologue from “Crimes of the Heart”. The next day, I gained some fabulous insight from Carmen Balthrop, a legendary opera singer and University voice teacher, before heading back to Charlottesville.

This last weekend Fellows had a silence retreat in Lexington, Virginia. A huge snow storm hit as we were driving up; in fact, it was at its worst as we were going up the mountain to our final destination! We were hardly making it up the tiny curvy roads when God provided a snow plow to lead the way in front of us. When we reached the final road towards the farm to which we were heading, the farm manager came out in his tractor and plowed ahead of us. At the end, my group’s car had to be pushed up the driveway in the end. Twenty minutes after we walked inside, the power went out! two hours later our last car made it with all of our groceries and three seriously tired guys! As the last guy walked in, our power came back on. We were SO thankful for God’s provision!

All of Friday, from sun up to sun down, Fellows spent in silent fasting. We did devotions, prayed, wrote in journals, painted, took pictures, took walks, and rested:

Then we cooked a big dinner and ate pretty much everything in sight before sitting down to talk about our time. For me, the fasting was more difficult than I realized….when about 2 pm hit I felt my blood sugar drop and I started getting a headache. I was definitely ready to eat when 5 pm came around! My time of solitude was nice but not desperately needed; I had been taking regular quiet times and getting good sleep anyway. All the same, it was a beautiful location in which to walk and rest a little more. During our meetings we discussed the value of fasting and solitude. We also reviewed the last semester and talked about what we would like to change in the future.

Looking ahead, I aim to pursue both the Fellows program and my graduate school pursuits as fully as possible. I am settling into this location and I really enjoy everyone with whom I work and play. They have been a fabulous force of affirmation as I pursue voice. At the same time, I have five more confirmed grad school auditions at DePaul, U of I in Urbana, U of Denver, UNCG, and JMU. I am beginning to think that the Lord placed me in this program to encourage my vocal studies more than to change my thinking about pursuing voice. God works in amazing and mysterious ways!

It’s Christmas Time!!

This Fall and winter time has been packed with bittersweetness and busyness! As soon as I returned from Thanksgiving, I was informed that a couple of Fellows would need to leave the program because they broke some Fellows rules. As a result, the majority of our group meetings were spent in prayer, processing, and grieving. We will now be down to 14 Fellows for the remainder of the year. It was sad to have to see this side of the Fellows Program, but it was also a valuable time to learn what it means to be in a community that uses prayerful discipline. All of us who will work in a church will see this again, and it is valuable to see it exercised in such a wise and thoughtful manner.

A short and busy week and a half later, Trinity Presbyterian hosted its annual Lessons and Carols Program. The first night was held at the church, and the second night was held at The Haven (picture in previous post). We were bless to have about 1,100 people attend over both nights. Trinity’s choir, children’s choir, and full orchestra put together an interactive service that included special numbers like Lauridsen’s “O Magnum Mysterium” and Vivaldi’s “Gloria” and “Et in terra pax”. We had a lovely candle-lit entrance by the choir at our first performance and a beautiful array of desserts at a reception the second night.

Besides being available to make binders and pack and organize all sound-related materials to help set up both Trinity and The Haven’s stage, I was thrilled to sing with the choir for this event. I also was given the honor of singing a Taize-type descant on on piece with a fabulous local tenor named Ben. My largest responsibility was directing a chamber choir in my arrangement of “Coventry Carol.” We had several rehearsals before the actual event, and my eight singers did an absolutely stunning A capella performance both nights. It was a wonderful experience to pull out my conducting skills and help provide a beautiful addition to the evening’s performance.

The next three days of work were intense with unloading all of our materials, putting equipment away, and setting up the stage for the upcoming Sunday. This last Saturday I had a lovely lunch with my mentor and her family before they dropped me off at the airport to come to Chicago. I will be around for three weeks (minus a few days in the middle), during which time I hope to catch up with friends and family and serve at Covenant, my local church.

Looking ahead, I have four confirmed auditions for grad schools, starting January 15th! Prayers that preparation and transportation as well as the actual auditions go well would be so appreciated!