John Brown University’s Latin chapel band has transitioned into becoming the international chapel band. This new band will play in chapel for the first time today, Thursday Feb. 26.
Helder Julio Orozco, a Guatemalan sophomore international business major and singer who co-leads the international band, said the change was his idea. Last semester he had a realization while in Walker Student Center.
“When I saw all the flags that we have over there, I was like, ‘yeah there’s not just Central America and Latino countries that are represented here, that want to worship God,’ ” he said.
Additionally, it occurred to him that not everyone on the Latin band was Latino – two were white Americans. So Orozco proposed the name change to Jen Edwards, assistant professor of worship arts, and she agreed.
The change is not only in the name. Edwards explained that this year the band is much more official than last year, with auditions, required rehearsal once a week and an established structure.
She said the band is and has been in a “piloting” stage, but hopes to make it even more official next semester. To do this, she wants to either make the international band an official chapel band and put it on the regular rotation, or to make each chapel band more international.
Orozco said the new band has a new leadership structure. While the Latin band only had one student in leadership, the new band has three co-leaders: Stephen Ruales, Roberto Pozuelo-Diaz, and Orozco.
Stephen Ruales is an Ecuadorian junior international business major. He is the most recent Latin band leader and now has a pastoral role, encouraging the band members and reminding them of their vision. Roberto Pozuelo-Diaz, a sophomore music minor from Costa-Rica, plans what songs will be played and how they will be played. Orozco is in charge of organization and is the primary leader for the singers. Together, these three lead six other team members.
Altogether, the band members represent Costa Rica, Ecuador, Germany, Guatemala, the U.S. and Mexico. However, their national identities are not their only identities. “We’re trying to represent all of JBU, not just the six of us, “said Orozco.
This semester, they are scheduled to play in three chapels and plan to play music in English, Spanish, German and Xhosa, a South African language.
Orozco explained that there are practical difficulties in representing all of JBU in worship. He said they didn’t get a big response when they sent out an email to international students about international band auditions.
He said it is harder to learn worship styles from cultures that are not represented in the band since the lack of a band member who knows the style leaves them without a teacher. However, Orozco is confident that the band can continue to grow musically and do so quickly.
Rod Reed, JBU chaplain, affirmed the importance of having an international band and playing music from different cultures. He emphasized how students can be Christ-like by sacrificing their own personal comfort for the comfort of others.
“We want every student at some time in the year to feel comfortable and at home in chapel worship,” Reed said. However, he said that the opposite is also true, “We want every student at some time in the year to feel uncomfortable and a little out of place. Both of those experiences are important.”
While all future dates have not been solidified, Chapel Music Coordinator Aleah Eldridge explained via email that the band will be playing again on Tuesday, April 21, if not before.