The Department of Music at 50: Looking Back and Ahead

During last weekend’s special 27th annual Christmas Gala, the College celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Department of Music at Gordon.

“We look to the past to honor all God has done through the many faculty, staff and students who have been involved in the Department of Music over these years,” says Department of Music Chair Sarita Kwok.

It was 50 years ago that Alton C. Bynum’s vision came to fruition with the establishment of the Department of Music. A fledgling group of musical students began the journey in a carriage house that sat on the very lot where the Gala is performed, in the A. J. Gordon Memorial Chapel. Through Dr. Bynum’s leadership, the Department of Music received accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Music, and today Gordon College offers Bachelor of Arts in Music (with concentrations in worship and composition), Bachelor of Music in Music Education, Bachelor of Music in Music Performance and Master of Music Education degrees.

“At Gordon, we are proud that our students are not only leaning into their talent,” Dr. Kwok says, “but using it to influence others.” This is accomplished through students’ leadership in the arts and teaching in public schools, performing in renowned venues and homeless shelters, and offering music therapy to hospitals and bringing music to underserved communities. Dr. Kwok says her students truly follow the charge from Philippians 2:3–4, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit . . . not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Just as the Department recognizes its past, 50 years marks an opportunity to cast a vision. “We look to the future, greatly anticipating what the next 50 years will hold for the Department of Music,” says Dr. Kwok. They have exciting plans for a new performance space and arts building, positive changes to the curriculum, new faculty additions and a growing number of students—all building on Dr. Bynum’s original vision.

“Gordon’s Department of Music,” Dr. Kwok says, “continues to be committed to nurturing the next generation of Christian musicians to become transformational, life-giving servants carrying out a mission through music.”

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Department of Music, a Spring Pops Concert will take place on Saturday, May 5, 2018, at 7 p.m. featuring the Gordon Men’s, Women’s and College Choirs; Symphony Orchestra and Symphonic Band; and special guest soloists and narrators. The evening of show tunes will include Broadway favorites and well-known American pieces by Aaron Copland, Andrew Lloyd Webber, John Philip Sousa, John Williams, George Gershwin and many others.