When the doors open to the Sauder Concert Hall at Goshen College, the outside world can fade away.
The flow of a musical melody is captured by the acoustics inside the hall and captivates the audience with the surrounding sounds.
Marcia Yost, director of the Music Center that houses the Sauder Concert Hall, has seen and heard many performers since the center was built in 2002.
“There’s something that happens to a person when they stand on the stage to perform,” Yost said. “Every time I walk in here I am struck by the wealth of music that has graced this hall. Everything from the artistry of Bobby McFerrin or the St. Petersburg Philharmonic to the wonderful Goshen College ensembles and on to the young children in the Community School of the Arts, this place is magical to me. I wonder who will get to experience this hall in the years to come.”
Other high-profile musicians have performed at the concert hall, including Emmylou Harris, Seraphic Fire and Birdland Big Band.
“We’re providing first-class performers and we are training young hearts to appreciate and know music,” Yost said. “That’s the gift.”
The gift comes in the form of providing outreach opportunities for children in Elkhart County to participate in the Community School of the Arts (CSA) inside the Music Center.
When the center was built, a wing was dedicated for community teaching, said Deb Kauffman, CSA director.
“We service more than 1,000 children in the county in art outreach with youth orchestras and choirs, private lessons and the ‘Music Together’ program,” Kauffman said. “It’s a fun thing for county student musicians to get to know other young musicians in the county.”
The Music Together program provides affordable education and fun with music for families with babies, toddlers and preschoolers. There are about 125 families participating in the program and about 340 students in Headstart classrooms, Kauffman said.
“The program is modeled a little bit after the Suzuki method of learning communication skills and parenting skills,” Yost said. “It grooms young minds to be ready to learn. It’s a tool for outreach and all CSA lessons have need-based scholarships. All the youth involved in the music programs can come to many of the department concerts for free with their families, but not the general concerts. It becomes a perk of their tuition and promotes community participation.”
Yost added that with the variety of programs available at different times, community members could see quality entertainment at least every three nights if they wanted.