30 schools participating in this year’s event
The Ontario Christian MusicFest is returning to Bowmanville with 30 schools signed up for the April 1-3 event.
This year’s festival, hosted at Knox Christian School, has an increase in the number of praise and worship teams performing. The participating schools include independent and public schools with representation from across the province.
“Part of our reason for having Ontario Christian MusicFest is actually to cultivate an increased interest in praise and worship,” says regional co-ordinator Dennis Ullman, who created the event six years ago and is also the band instructor at Durham Christian High School and Knox Christian School in Bowmanville.
“This year I’m excited about the praise and worship element growing, that’s one of the things we’ve been working on because there are lots of band festivals out there … but to have a festival that really focuses in on worship as one of its major components is really exciting,” he says.
Ullman says there is an increased awareness of praise and worship programs and more youth are getting involved in these groups at their churches. There is also more exposure to praise and worship. For example, a group from Durham Christian High School recently went to a praise and worship symposium at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The festival also aims to improve participants’ musicality and expand their abilities, says Ullman.
Participants have the opportunity to hear school concert bands, instrumental jazz ensembles and praise and worship teams.
Performances are listened to by adjudicators and each group receives an audio recording of their performance with adjudicator voice-over. An educational clinic follows each performance with one of the adjudicators.
This year the adjudicators include Ullman, who has 12 years experience; Carol Johnson, who worked at Belmont University in Nashville; Ken Michell, praise and worship leader at Knox Presbyterian Church in Toronto; and Garry Page.
The Ontario Christian MusicFest is a regional festival of MusicFest Canada. The best ensembles from each class are invited to the national finals of MusicFest Canada, to be held in Markham May 12-16.
The event is an open audience and often draws parents and relatives. Some schools also bring music students to listen for their musical enrichment.