HARRISBURG, Pa. — A 19-member international ensemble of singers and instrumentalists has been selected to lead the morning and evening worship each day at the Mennonite World Conference assembly July 21-26 in Harrisburg.
“During the next few weeks, we’ll be learning each other’s stories,” said Marcy Hostetler, leader of the group. “It’s so important to love and respect the people you work with.”
The 11 vocalists and eight instrumentalists come from India, Congo, Ethiopia, Germany, Mexico, Spain, Indonesia, Colombia and the U.S. Seven of the instrumentalists live in south-central Pennsylvania.
“We wanted the instrumental ensemble to be able to rehearse well before the rest of the group arrives so we have a strong foundation,” Hostetler said.
The group was selected from musicians who submitted resumes, sound clips or YouTube links, plus references.
“We had many talented applicants, but we looked at more than their musical ability,” she said. “We wanted to represent all the continents. We wanted gender balance.”
Each day at PA 2015 will feature a different continent, including music — Latin American July 21, Asian July 22; African July 23; European July 24 and North American July 25.
“We’ll get together about four days ahead of the conference to rehearse together, to become acquainted — and to become a group who can lead all who attend in wonderful worship,” Hostetler said. “Of course, we’ll be singing in a variety of languages, which requires special effort, too. One of the criteria for being in the group is being able to communicate in English. We need at least one common language.”
Meet some members
- Singer Dodó Miranda grew up in Congo, a refugee from Angola. At age 5, he begged to attend adult choir practice with his parents and officially joined the choir at age 8. As an adult, he has participated in music festivals in South Africa, France, Norway and the U.S. He is in high demand in Angola, where he is featured regularly on national TV and radio as a gospel musician.
- Nohemy Ruth García of Spain has a three-octave vocal range. She has sung for three years with the Philharmonic Choirs of the Sydney, Australia, Opera House. Also a songwriter, she was commissioned to write a song of peace to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the bombing in Madrid, which killed 191 and injured 1,800 in 2004.
- Clyde Ferguson Jr. of North Carolina builds diddly bows (a single-stringed instrument). His band, Pop Ferguson Blues, has been recognized by the African American National Heritage group and has been included in North Carolina classroom curricula because of its contribution to North Carolina history. Ferguson has taught for 26 years in North Carolina public schools, directing school bands for many of those years. A member of the Mennonite Brethren leadership board, he’s also developed a dropout prevention program called “Reach’em to Teach’em.”
- Marisol Arriaga Aranda of Mexico is a graduate of Conservatorio Nacional de Música in Mexico City and has pastored two Mennonite churches. She sings soprano in Abba Padre Musical Integration and leads music in workshops offered by Women in Action for Peace in Mexico.