AdventHealth University (AHU) was proud to co-sponsor the “Worthy is the Lamb” concert, a large-scale ensemble of sacred-based acoustical music on February 22, 2020, at the First United Methodist Church of Orlando. The concert was part three in the second chapter of the “Power and Glory of God Through Music” concert series, which was conceived by AdventHealth employee, Mark Babienko. AHU sponsored the concert to provide faculty, staff, and student musicians an opportunity to create an inspirational experience for the Orlando community.
Each concert features a grand program of glorious music performed by a combined mass choir and orchestra. This year, musicians from several local and out-of-state churches, local schools, and the Orlando community and surrounding areas participated. In total, the concert was composed of 80 voices and 45 instrumentalists, and accompanied by the largest pipe organ in central Florida. In addition to co-sponsoring the event, many of AHU’s own faculty, staff, students, and alumni were among this year’s performers.
Babienko views the concerts as a type of ministry outreach, saying that “music is a universal language that speaks to anyone.” The 2020 concert represented 17 churches from seven denominations collaborating for one purpose, to “return a musical offering to the Lord.”
Babienko, a brass player, participates as one of the performers himself. He also wears many hats in the event’s production, ranging from logistics and design to audio and video editing. He came up with the concert idea in late 2012, while finishing up work on recording music albums for several groups at the Markham Woods Church. “The idea hit me: Wouldn’t it be cool if we could have a concert that combines all these groups?” he explained. From there, an even more ambitious plan grew. Why not bring many churches together and make big ensemble music that couldn’t be accomplished individually?
The concerts are free to the public and everyone is encouraged to attend. The theme of each concert is highlighted by the music choices, with each piece specifically chosen to compliment the current theme, and then woven together with short narration interludes.
The series is split into chapters, with three concerts in each. The 2013-2015 concerts made up the first chapter, “The Divine Trilogy,” and focused on each member of the Trinity. The current chapter, “Music of the Redeemed,” has now concluded with “Worthy is the Lamb.” This year’s concert theme focused on the Savior of the world, the Son of God.
Babienko said, “Every concert is a once-in-a-lifetime happening, a fully unique experience that is never repeating.” Blending the choral and orchestral talents of many congregations, the result is an amazing experience for both the musicians and audiences. But, it also presents challenges.
One of note is the relatively short rehearsal schedule. Split into several sessions that equal just 13 hours, a group of musicians are brought together for the first time to produce performance ready music that includes master works from composers such as Handel, Haydn, Tchaikovsky, and more. “This speaks to the commitment and musicianship of those assembled,” commented Babienko.
These challenges would seem limiting to many, but Babienko has found a way to coordinate an incredibly successful series. He credited many people in helping his vision become a reality. One, Linda van Niekerk, the series’ organist/pianist and harpist, has “been foundational in coordinating the music side of things,” according to Babienko.
He called van Niekerk “a musician of the highest caliber,” and was “confident in saying [if] it wasn’t for her involvement these programs wouldn’t have happened.” In addition to her musical talents, her connections at the Methodist church enabled them to secure it as a venue, and she provided a critical introduction to William Shortal, the concert’s current music director.
Ultimately, Babienko credits the event’s success to its sacred purpose. “These concerts happen for the glory of God,” said Babienko. He added, “We assemble as humble musicians before our Creator and Savior … that we might return a musical offering. I believe God honors this and blesses us beyond what we could accomplish otherwise.”
AHU develops skilled professionals who live the healing values of Christ. Sponsoring this concert provided a healing oasis of inspiration and meditation for the community they serve.
For footage of the concert, visit centralfloridamusical.com/.
AdventHealth University | April 2020