The Iowa-Missouri Conference Music Festival brought together 86 elementary aged students from nine IA-MO Conference elementary schools on May 5-7 at Sunnydale Adventist Academy. There were 67 students in choir and 19 students in band.

This year’s theme was “iWitness,” the same theme that was selected for the 2020 Music Festival, which was cancelled due to COVID.

The choir clinician was Leandro Bizama, who is currently the associate pastor of worship and evangelism for Campion Academy SDA Church, and previously worked as a music and Bible teacher at several institutions.

Bizama prayed with students and discussed service and witnessing. He said he selected music not only because of how it sounded, but the spiritual message behind the songs.

“During the rehearsals, the many hours that we rehearse for a music festival, we talk about why those songs were chosen, we talk about what the songs say and what it means for the singers,” Bizama said.

Natasha, a homeschool Music Festival attendee, said her favorite part of the event was the songs and making friends.

“I think Music Festival is a fun opportunity,” Natasha said. “I feel like I learned a lot.”

The band clinician was Joseph E Choi, the music director at SAA. Choi has held various conducting positions in the U.S. and abroad. In addition to leading the Music Festival band, Choi helped coordinate the Music Festival.

“Music Festival wouldn’t have been as successful as it was without having Mr. Choi there to figure out the logistics of the practices and the final performance. He helped get all the components at Sunnydale Adventist Academy together to make the event successful,” said Joseph Allison, education superintendent.

Students began practices Thursday evening and finished practices Friday afternoon. During breaks, students participated in recreational activities like basketball and gaga ball.

Friday evening, SAA chorale and band performed for vespers. On Saturday, SAA students led out in an interactive Sabbath School. Music festival participants performed four songs during the church service.

This year, the typical music festival schedule was altered. This year’s schedule eliminated the individual school performance concert. Instead, the music festival concert, usually held at 4 p.m. on Sabbath was moved forward to 2 p.m. This benefited schools who are located farther away from SAA, according to Karen McCarthy, education administrative assistant.

“The biggest benefit of moving the concert forward was it allowed schools traveling from a far distance to get back to their schools earlier,” McCarthy said.

The concert included 10 songs evenly split between band and choir. The final two songs of the concert featured both band and choir and earned a standing ovation from the estimated 200 attendees.

Education Superintendent Joseph Allison receives a t-shirt signed by all the elementary education Music Festival attendees.

During the concert, there was also a time of recognition. This included individuals who helped make Music Festival possible, teachers who were receiving service pins and recognition of retiring IA-MO Conference Education Superintendent Joseph Allison.

Following the concert’s conclusion, students signed each other’s t-shirts. Each year, the T-shirts for Music Festival feature artwork submitted by students and a student submitted Bible text. This year’s shirts, which were worn during the final performance, were designed by Bryan, a student at Sedalia Adventist School. The winning text was 2 Peter 1:16, submitted by Cecile, a student at Andrews Christian Academy.

The verse reads, “For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”

To see more pictures from this year’s Music Festival, view this YouTube video.