Music Program Provides Avenue for Beauty and Expression

January 23, 2014 | Rosa Jimenez

Northwest academy students experienced the joy and satisfaction of performing with a large musical group during January’s Choir/Orchestra Music Festival. Every year, the Walla Walla University (WWU) Music Department hosts the annual festival for academy musicians, alternating between choir/orchestra and band.

Students arrive midweek on campus and have several days of intense practice before taking part in the University Church’s Sabbath worship service and performing in an afternoon concert at the church.

Kraig Scott, who directs the choir, says the goal of the festival is “to allow serious young musicians from all across the Northwest to experience the joy of bringing great music to life.”

For many of these students, their time at WWU may be the first of many experiences in bringing great music to life. Those who become WWU students, whether they major in music or not, have many opportunities to express their musical talents.

With more than 50 musical performances scheduled this year, two new ensembles and several off-campus tours planned, the Music Department is thriving. The orchestra has a near-record number of members, reflecting the enthusiasm of student musicians for the department’s expansion to a full symphony orchestra from a string orchestra about five years ago.

The department has also established a harp ensemble. The ensemble, under the direction of Chelsea Spence, performed on campus for the first time as part of the annual PRISM concert last April. In June, the four-member ensemble performed its first full concert. The department also established a flute choir in 2013.

A complete schedule of music events through June is available at

“The combination of students majoring in music with those who seriously maintain their musical skills while majoring in another discipline results in a vibrant creative environment,” says Karin Thompson, Music Department chair. “Our goal, as expressed in our mission statement, is for students to ‘be inspired and stimulated to further enrich the lives of others’ because of what they gained from studying music at Walla Walla University.”