Jill Harlow – Loveland, Colorado … While the wind howled and the power was out throughout the region, hundreds gathered in the dimly lit Campion Academy gymnasium in Loveland, Colorado, to hear the final concert of the Rocky Mountain Music Festival, April 6.

Around 130 middle grade students from 12 Adventist schools and homeschool programs from across Colorado and Kansas came to participate in the festival featuring choir and orchestra performances.

Cecilia Simmons, Campion Academy music director, was the primary organizer of the event as well as the orchestra conductor. Guest clinician LeeAnna McMullen, an opera performer, pianist, and vocal educator with over 25 years of experience, led the students in choir.

Lola, a sixth-grade student at HMS Richards Adventist School in Loveland, Colorado, shared her experience participating at the festival: “I think she [McMullen] really knew what she was doing, and she was really fit for that job. I liked it that all the schools came together to sing. It sounded really pretty, and it gives more diversity to help us prepare for heaven.”

The festival kicked off on Friday morning with the participants spending about six hours rehearsing their pieces in groups. Campion Academy’s select choir and orchestra students spent the day practicing and mentoring the younger students.

Toby Quillin, currently Campion junior student and a member of Koinonia, has been attending the RMC Music Festival every year since he was in middle school. Quillin reflected, “When I was younger attending Music Fest, I remember looking up and listening to the high schoolers singing and trying to follow them, and now I am one of the ones that the children listened to. It was interesting and fun to work with the kids around me.”

In between afternoon rehearsals, the students were able to attend breakout sessions such as soccer, gymnastics, games, and art.

Friday evening, the Campion Academy Music Department along with Mile High Academy’s middle school choir, performed for a vespers concert in the Campion Seventh-day Adventist Church in Loveland, Colorado.

The festival choir and orchestra performed a few selections for the church Sabbath service, but their main performance was at 7:00 p.m. in the Campion Academy gym. A few hours before the students were set to perform, the power company turned off all electricity to many areas of the Front Range including Campion’s campus. There was concern over the fire danger due to downed power lines from the high winds that were predicted to continue to increase overnight.

Campion staff members and volunteers scrambled to gather generators for the kitchen crew to provide the evening meal, as well as some light and power to the sound system in the gym. Despite the outage, all of the participants were well fed, and the show went on.

Simmons recalled, “The second my phone started ringing off the hook, I knew something was wrong. No power! How on earth were we going to perform in the cold and in the dark!”

“I called the clinician and the first words out of her mouth were, ‘We’re not going to let the devil win.’ From that moment on, it was on! Students excitedly brought their personal headlamps along with extras for anyone who might have needed them,” she continued. “Parents loaned batteries for stand lights. Everyone came together to make sure the concert was a success. And boy was it. The lights being out added an extra glow (pun intended) to the proceedings. It was a beautiful way to cap off two intense days of rehearsing and performing.”

Simmons concluded by saying, “On Sabbath, the pastor talked about using the opportunity to perform as a moment to self-reflect on what we individually needed to surrender, so our worship through music was pure and holy. God used all of the trials and tribulations of the weekend to remind me that I needed to trust Him through the good and the bad. He was and always will be in control.”

—Jill Harlow is the Campion Academy communication director. Photos supplied.