Welcome from the Music Department Chair

The art of music can be either a great force for good or a great force for evil. But, when viewed as a treasured gift lovingly bestowed on humanity by God, the Creator, music becomes a sacred trust demanding reflection, understanding and stewardship if one is to maximize this gift. Since God created humankind and music, it should be the thankful joy of Christian musicians to use music in an offering of gratitude for the gift given, an offering refined through dedicated, disciplined study and informed and methodical practice. Please remember that attitude and motivation are critical factors to the success of a musician. The practice room can be a lonely place but is also the place where you develop your skills and where you demonstrate the level of dedication you have to your art. It is our desire, at Washington Adventist University, to provide you with the best possible musical education so that you might better be prepared to add your musical talents in praise of the Creator at a time when the cacophony of the human struggle tends to obliterate the rightful place of music, as extended prayer, in the world.

  • Dr. James Bingham, Chair



  1. Mission

It is the purpose of the Department of Music to provide professional musical training reinforced by a sound general education viewed from a Seventh-day Adventist Christian perspective. Its programs are designed to provide students with a superior musical experience preparing them to be successful communicators, performers and educators. It is the desire of the faculty to present the art of music as a discipline that can ennoble the spiritual, intellectual and emotional lives of students and, by so doing, music becomes a vehicle for service and outreach to the greater community.

  1. Degrees

  1. Bachelor of Arts in Music

The Bachelor of Arts in Music is designed for students wishing a broad liberal arts education while developing musical skills at a professional, artistic level. Candidates for the B.A. in Music are required to have a second major or minor in a field that will lead to a career or further study. This requirement assures that the degree maintains an emphasis on general studies as defined within a liberal arts degree.

  1. Bachelor of Music in Music Performance

The Bachelor of Music in Music Performance is designed for individuals planning a career in music. Students wishing to enroll in this degree must have well developed performance skills before entering the University and have career goals for private studio teaching, teaching at the tertiary level, or entering the performance field.

  1. Bachelor of Music in Music Education

The Bachelor of Music in Music Education is designed for students planning a career in teaching music at the elementary and/or secondary level. The degree is predicated on the concept that an effective music educator is also an excellent musician. Therefore, the music core is academically challenging while at the same time the pedagogical aspects of teaching music are heavily emphasized. The Department of Music works in conjunction with the Department of Education to assist students in attaining this degree. At the completion of the degree a graduate will have certification through the Maryland State Department of Education and the Department of Education for the North American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Grammy Award winning Conductor Visits WAU

On Friday February 17, at 1pm, Grammy award winning conductor Herbert Blomstedt gave a 2 hour lecture and Q&A to a small but intent crowd of approximately 25 in the rehearsal hall of the newly constructed Leroy and Lois Peters Music Center. One of the worlds most respected and revered orchestral directors he is still vibrant and strong at the age of 84, directing the NSO in a series of 3 concerts at the Kennedy Center that weekend.

Sporting a black eye from a minor fall shortly before the first concert, Blomstedt light heartedly opened the session assuring the audience that his black eye was not a result of the critics taking issue with his interpretation of Brukner the night before. Far from it, the critics raved.

“What happens, instead, is an honest act of devotion: a performance in which every drop of the music is manifested. Details emerge that you are seldom aware of — phrases bursting out like popcorn kernels in the buildup to the recapitulation of the first movement or the tangy, crunchy contrasts between the sounds of different instruments as they pass around a single tune at the end of the second movement — all in the course of a narrative told so clearly, there’s never a doubt where in the piece you are.” (Midgette, Washington Post, Feb. 17, 2012)

Born in 1927 in Massachusettes, but raised in Sweden, Blomstedt first began studying music at the age of 9, but was admittedly more interested in soccer than anything else. While being raised in a very traditional Adventist home, Blomstedt was encouraged by his parents to hone his musical talents for use in church. It took a dedicated and fine violin teacher to capture his attention and open his world to the possibilities of music. it was his musical journey, within the context of his Adventist faith, that framed the majority of conversation during the Q&A. “Being Adventist helps us be better musicians, and being good musicians make us better Christians”, he said. “Not that there isn’t sometimes friction – friction creates warmth”.

While fielding more questions about the intersection of professional music life and faith, it was a question from WAU music student Juliana Baioni, about attaining success that drew Blomstedt’s particular attention. “Success is a result of being good. It is not what you strive for – if it is what you strive for, it will most likely go wrong,” he cautioned. “Success is a result of striving to be good in your profession, to pay the violin better, to compose better, to write poetry better…Success is the rat poison of humanity – very few survive it!”

Humbly brushing off the enormous amount of work and dedication it takes to achieve a high level of recognition, Blomstedt instead credited his musical successes to God and the lessons learned in living a Christian life. “Whatever I do, interpret, or play is a result of being a Christian…A Christian always strive to be truthful, and honest.  We also know that as Christians we do not tamper with the Bible.  BUT, one text can have lots of meaning. Half the Bible is poetry and written prose! Parables were fiction to tell a truth – and so it is with musical text” he compared.  “It is sacrosanct. You cannot change that. So when you perform, you play as written! Christian grows up to respect the text, so to should a musician!”

Clearly for Blomstedt, the dedication to honest Christian living applies just as strongly to that of a truly dedicated musician. Emboldened by Blomstedt’s example and sage advice, the audience appeared to leave the Peters Music Center buzzing with potential and possibiity.

By applying principals of Christian living to our musical ventures, success, no longer a thing to persue, in its own way seemed sure to find us all!

– Preston Hawes, Director NEYE


Maestro Herbert Blomstedt

Herbert Blomstedt is the Conductor Laureate of the San Francisco Symphony and an elected member of the Royal Swedish Music Academy. He recently concluded his position of Music Director of the Gewandhaus Orchestra of Leipzig after seven seasons, he remains Conductor Laureate of the San Francisco Symphony and is Honorary Conductor of the NHK Symphony Orchestra Tokyo and the Bamberg Symphony. Maestro Blomstedt has guest conducted every major orchestra across the globe, including the Berlin Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, Munich Philharmonic, Boston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, New York Philharmonic, and The Philadelphia Orchestra. He has won two Grammy awards, a Gramophone Award, and the Grand Prix du Disque. His many awarded recordings can be found on Decca/London and EMI among others.


Music Dept. Video

07 June 2011

Washington Concert Winds make a splash in the Cayman Islands

11 April 2011

By Amber Jones

Band_tripThe Cayman Islands are a tropical island paradise where it’s warm year round.  The produce is fresh and the beaches are inviting.  Sounds like the perfect place to spend Spring Break, right?  Well, that’s just where the Washington Concert Winds went for Band Tour.

On Friday, March 4, 2011 at 6:30 a.m., the bus left campus for Reagan National Airport where we hopped on a plane, hopped on another plane, went through immigration and customs, and started our Cayman Island experience.  At the airport, we were greeted by friends and family of Andrea Campbell, the first clarinetist.  From there, we were taken to our hotel and we prepared for our performance that would be a church the next day.

Sabbath, we performed at King’s Church in Georgetown, the capital of Grand Cayman.  After lunch, we drove to the Bodden Town Civic Centre where we held our evening Sabbath concert.  Since nothing was planned for Saturday night, some people visited the Campbells at their home, some went into town, and some stayed at the hotel to swim in the pool and relax.

On Sunday, our real adventure as visitors to the island began.  First thing in the morning, after having breakfast, we drove to a dock to get on a boat that took us out to Stingray City, which is not a city at all.  Stingray City is actually a collection of sandbars where stingrays like to gather because people are constantly coming on boats to feed them and swim with them.  And that’s exactly what we did.  Once we were done with the stingrays, the boat took us to another location with deeper water.  There, people would do crazy dives off the second story of the boat, swim around to the back of the boat and get back in to go back upstairs and dive again.  People that didn’t swim were either tanning on the roof or relaxing on the bottom.  Either way, everyone had fun.

Monday we performed at the Boatswain Turtle Farm.  Why would we perform at a turtle farm you may ask?  Instead of paying to go to the turtle farm they let us put on a concert.  Once we were finished playing we got a tour of the farm where we were able to hold sea turtles that were weeks old up to several months.  Not only did we get to hold turtles, but there was also an aviary that housed several different kinds of birds and a fresh water pool where you could swim with the creatures that lived in it.  After we visited the turtle farm we went to Hell, literally.  Hell is a city on the West End part of the island.  It’s named as such because of the large limestone deposits that appear there, making it look as if the land was smitten with brimstone.

Tuesday we experienced more tourist spots.  We visited Pirates Cave where we were able to hold young goats, see birds like peacocks and parrots, and even go into the underground caves.  After that we went to Rum Point Beach where people played beach volleyball, rode jet skis, swam in the ocean, and tanned on the beach until they kicked us off.

Wednesday we were able to perform for the Grand Cayman Agricultural Fair.  Because it was on a national holiday, the roads were packed on the way to the fair.  It took us 20 minutes to get off the main road and down the street to the parking lot.  But once we were there we had time to walk around before our performance.  There was a booth for almost everything.  People were selling young coconuts for you to drink out of; there was a judging of produce, a rodeo, people playing the steel drums, a man selling his paintings, and even a booth that talked about health.

Thursday we went to Seven Mile Beach for another day of beach fun.  Afterwards, the entire band went to the Campbell’s house for dinner and more time to relax.  Just before we left we presented them with gifts and cards of gratitude that had been bought using money band members had secretly and generously donated out of a desire to thank them for everything they had done for us on the tour from planning places for us to play at to providing us food unexpectedly.

Friday was a free day for us.  Some people walked into town to do some shopping for souvenirs and to eat at the local restaurants.  Some stayed at the hotel to swim in the pool or the ocean inlet or to watch movies.  Some found a way to go back to the beach.  No matter what, everyone found a way to have fun.

The second Sabbath we were there we played for the Georgetown Church during church service and we did an evening concert there as well, our last concert of tour.  From then until we left on Monday we had free time to do whatever we wanted.  Most people returned to Seven Mile Beach for more beach volley ball, tanning time, and time in the water.

Throughout the ten days we were there, we were able to make new friends with people who aren’t normally in the band but who played with us on tour:  Tom Wilson, brother of our director Mr. Wilson, who played trumpet; Ginger Ebanks from Grand Cayman who played the baritone saxophone; Samuel Pomales from Spring Valley Academy who played tuba; Deidra Campbell from Grand Cayman who played clarinet; Damien from Grand Cayman who played bass clarinet; and Victor from Grand Cayman who played tenor saxophone and also opened up his home to us for Sabbath lunch the second weekend.  They were lots of fun to play with and hang out with outside of the band setting.

All in all, everyone can say they had fun on tour in the Cayman Islands and would love to return.  After spending ten days in a place that had tropical weather during the day and clear skies at night, I know I didn’t want to come back to winter in Maryland.  But, all good things must come to an end, even vacation on Grand Cayman with your friends.

Academy Musicians in Town for Columbia Union Chorale Festival

09 February 2011

DSC_0102editedThe Department of Music is hosting the Columbia Union Chorale Festival this week. Academy musicians from Takoma, Spencerville, Highland View, Blue Mountain, Spring Valley, and Fletcher Academies will join with WAU’s own Columbia Collegiate Choral and New England Youth Ensemble.

The unit will be performing prescribed musical pieces and perform twice, once at Spencerville Adventist Church on Friday and then at Sligo Church on Saturday for Church Service. Admissions Counselor, Ellie Barker is excited about the Festival,” This event reiterates the Universities commitment to our Music Department. We are proud to offer new and continued opportunities to students of music.”

The performance at Spencerville Church will be from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm and include hymns and spirituals. They will also execute Mass in G, a composition by Franz Schubert. The three soloists performing that night are all current WAU students or alumni.

Soprano Debbie Thurlow, alumna of Takoma Academy and WAU, will perform a solo part. As will Tenor and SA President, Ramone Griffith and Bassist Joshua Hang alumnus of WAU and professional musician.

The unit will then perform during Church Service in Sligo Church at 11:00 am on Sabbath morning. Their musical lineup will consist of the regular divine service fare, anthems and responses for the church.

Chair of the Music Department and coordinator of the Festival, Dr. James Bingham, said he is pleased to work with the young talent,” It is always fun to work with academy voices. If the appropriate musical pieces are chosen, it can result in an outstanding musical experience.”

Back to Top