Chorale conductor honors soldiers and families with musical tour

“Love and Honor” tour inspired by bravery, loss and sacrifice

Mar. 16, 2011 By Harmony Wheeler


After her brother was deployed to Iraq last August, Chorale conductor Shawna Stewart’s plans for this year’s Biola University Chorale tour to recruit future Biolans began to take a solid form.

When he left for Iraq, Stewart’s brother left behind a wife and four children. Now, she seeks to honor his bravery and that of other soldiers and their families through performances given by Biola’s talented students.

“I’ve always been moved by his love for his family, but also his ability to have a love for his country and serving the American people, so much so that he would go to war and serve, possibly unto death,” Stewart said.

Bringing attention to the men and women who serve in the military, as well as other people deserving of honor, the “Love and Honor” tour will visit high schools and community colleges in California cities Visalia, Fresno, San Ramon, Lafayette and Bakersfield. The Chorale tours March 15-19. During the tour, the Chorale will do joint concerts with student groups and will host question and answer sessions on college life. The all-male acapella group The King’s Men will be singing their own repertoire as well. The Chorale will present the tour’s repertoire at Crowell Music Building’s Lansing Recital Hall on March 27, 2011, at 7 p.m.

The tour’s program includes several sections, each of which focuses on honoring different sets of people, such as those who have been victims of war. Stewart said the songs “When David Heard,” about David’s loss of his son Absolom, and “Dear Sarah,” Sullivan Ballou’s poem written to his wife a week before he died in the Civil War, will relate to those who have lost loved ones.

The deployment of her brother and the recent death of her grandfather influenced much of Stewart’s music selection for the Chorale’s tour.

“The selection of repertoire for this program is intentional,” Stewart said. “The pieces are honest, and are intended to speak to the many emotions within each person.”

Stewart said a song titled “For Those who Wait for the Kingdom of Heaven” reminded her of her grandfather.

“Jesus was his absolute everything,” Stewart said. “I haven’t personally met a more faithful follower of Jesus. I know he could not wait to be with his savior.”

Stewart said the sense of “honoring” is important for the tour.

“I think about honoring my grandfather who died by addressing what his life was, dedicated to Christ,” Stewart said. “The last song, ‘Hold On,’ means hold on to Jesus your whole life, even when life is so hard.”

Not all the music is solemn, Stewart said. One section of the concert will honor “those that laugh,” the people who bring laughter to life.

“In our music, I hope that they’re inspired, moved emotionally,” Stewart said. “I hope they’ve experienced something beautiful, [that they’ll] musically experience God’s truth. I hope the students that we sing to are inspired to be better than they are.”

The Chorale, which is composed of more than 50 voices from various disciplines on campus, has performed internationally, although this year’s tour focuses on local California.  The group performed at Carnegie Hall last year, and it has traveled to Hungary, Germany and several other countries in the past. The Chorale has also performed on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and sang music from The Lion King with Broadway star Alton White at Disney’s inaugural D23 Convention.

Written by Harmony Wheeler. Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Coordinator, can be reached at (562) 777-4061 or through email at .


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