Local Musicians

Today’s special broadcast will feature the local musicians whose contributions add so much to our program. So, before we begin, I’d like to give you a little peak behind the scenes here at The Word With Us so you can better appreciate how much the talent of these local, amateur musicians enhance the program.

We are not strictly bound to any structure or time table; but we do tend to follow a general format. The broadcast is usual devoted to a single topic that is seasonal or related to something in the news. Most Protestant churches follow liturgical calendar which defines a series of seasons such as Lent or Advent. This provides balance so that all aspects of Christianity are given fair representation throughout the year. But current events also play a part in our programming decisions because Christianity is relevant to daily life. Where there is a hot topic in the news, we like to examine that topic from a Biblical perspective.

So, we often start our broadcast with a brief introduction and a song to set the mood. Then we have a short meditation or testimony, another pertinent song, pertinent Bible texts or other readings, perhaps another song, and then a conclusion. The songs reinforce the message one way or another. Whenever possible, we use local musicians for these songs; but sometimes we will use commercially available music if we don’t have local music that advances the theme.

Today is different. There is no topic or unifying theme, other than the fact that music is an important part of worship that helps us to understand and appreciate Biblical truth.

The first musician we want to feature is truly an unsung hero because she is an accompanist. Typically when someone performs special music for church, just the soloist’s name is listed in the bulletin. In most cases, however, the accompanying piano or organ music is much more difficult and adds more to the performance than the single-note melody line performed by the soloist. The accompanist probably spent much more time learning and practicing the song than the soloist did.

Our broadcast begins and ends with me talking over a beautiful, anonymous arrangement of “Thy Word is a Lamp Unto My Feet”. Whenever we need background music for public service announcements, or a few seconds of filler music, we turn to this unacknowledged musician. So, uncharacteristically getting credit for her work, here is Susan Pogge playing “Take My Life and Let it Be”.

Some church choirs perform once a month, or just a few times a year for special occasions. But the Ridgecrest United Methodist Church Choir performs every week. This required dedication of the choir members, and especially the director, Janice Anderson, and accompanist Patrick Rindt. Here now is the Methodist Choir to sing, “Where He Leads Me.”

Another unsung accompanist is JoAn Witzel. She can play just about any hymn in any key from memory. Here now is JoAn Witzel on the piano and Susan Pogge on the organ to play “To God Be The Glory.”

I don’t need to say too much about Mike Miller. If you have lived in Ridgecrest any length of time and attended any local music performances, you have probably heard him sing. Here’s Mike to sing, “Midnight Cry.”

Grace Lutheran Church has a hand bell choir. Hand bell choirs require more commitment than vocal choirs. It doesn’t affect the sound too much if one alto misses the performance; but if one bell ringer doesn’t show up, there will be some missing notes. But when everyone is there, and playing in perfect coordination, you hear a haunting melody like this one.

Relatively new to Ridgecrest is Kimmie Witzel, so you may not have heard her before. He she is, accompanied by her mother-in-law JoAn Witzel, to sing, “So Send I You.”

Music education is important to our children. Hud deFluiter volunteers her time to teach music to home schooled students, along with students attending Adventist Christian School and Immanuel Christian School. They all perform together at band concerts during the year. Each year some of the best band members graduate and leave the band, to be replaced by younger children who have never touched an instrument before. As you listen to the band progress throughout the school year, the improvement is remarkable. Let’s listen now as the Ridgecrest Christian Schools band plays “God Bless America”.

A band is great, when you have one. If you don’t, modern technology has to fill the gap. Fortunately, the technology exists for me to be a one-man band and record all the various parts individually and mix them together to make background tracks for the songs I write. Here’s one I wrote to help Vacation Bible School students remember the order of the days of creation.

It seems appropriate to follow “Let There Be Light” with the Seventh-day Adventist church choir singing, “Followers of the Light.”

Judy Harper also writes and records her own music. Clearly she also uses multiple track recording because it’s really hard to sing and play the flute at the same time. Here is “Eden, a Perfect Place.”

Becky Richardson is also a well-known local soprano who needs no introduction. Here she is, accompanied by Susan Pogge, to sing, “I’ll Walk with God.”

I admit. I’m biased. I could listen to Susan Pogge play for hours. Fortunately, I get the opportunity to do that often. Let me share some of that pleasure with you as she plays, “Crown Him With Many Crowns.”

Now we are down to our last song. There’s a story behind this one. About 10 years ago, the Ridgecrest Seventh-day Adventist church had a reunion to celebrate the 50th anniversary it formation. I wrote the theme song for that reunion. Because it was a specific occasion, the second verse was about sending out invitations and coming to the reunion. Later, I rewrote the second verse to make the song appropriate for general occasions. I changed the name from “Reunion” to “We’re All Here.”