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A Musical Mission to Kiev
Sacred music performed at Trinity Western University’s Christmas concert will be heard in Ukraine – a former Communist state.

"We beheld the glory" – these four words were among the first lines sung by a significant number of Trinity Western University voices and special guests at the 5th annual Christmas at the Chan Centre concert. The words set the tone perfectly to a glorious afternoon.

Wes Janzen conducts more than 350 voices and musicians at the 5th annual Christmas the Chan Centre concert.
Photo, courtesy Stefan Matis.

The gorgeous and impressive oval stage at the Chan Shun Concert Hall at UBC was wrapped tightly with more than 350 choral performers and musicians at the annual concert on November 30th. The sold out concert, made possible through the Chan Endowment Fund at UBC, featured 23 compositions celebrating the Christmas season.  Works by John Rutter, traditional carols arranged by M. Wilberg, and Handel’s Messiah featured prominently.

Guests overheard at this year’s concert remarked that “it was by far the most enjoyable program yet.”  Musicians kept audiences on their toes by infusing pieces with interesting percussion and beautiful orchestral arrangements as the concert hall was transformed into a holy and sacred space.

This year’s program was special for TWU director of choral activities and artistic director Wes Janzen, and his wife Kimberly Janzen who is also co-artistic director of the celebrated Pacific Mennonite Children’s Choir.  The two will be packing for the Ukraine with their three children to begin a six-month leave of absence where the same program performed at this year’s Christmas at the Chan will be performed in the former communist state. Wes Janzen has made two or three trips annually to Kiev since 2006 as principal guest conductor of the prestigious Kiev Symphony Orchestra and Chorus (KSOC) – the largest private musical entity in Ukraine which is supported by a missionary organization called Music Mission Kiev (MMK). 

“My spirit is drawn to Kiev because God is doing some amazing things there,” says Janzen, “We’ve been praying for the doors to be open for decades. When the Iron Curtain fell the doors were opened, so if we pray for the doors to open and we don’t respond that seems irresponsible.”

With offices located internationally, Music Mission Kiev’s purpose, according to their website, is “to bring the sacred masterpieces of classical music to the country of Ukraine proclaiming the Gospel to and through Ukrainian musicians to the world – and ministering to the emerging Christian community in Ukraine through evangelism, discipleship, and humanitarian outreach to widows and orphans.”

“I sense a call to missions and musical excellence. Music Mission Kiev has introduced the great sacred classics that were forbidden by communism for so many years and to play these great sacred classics is a phenomenal way to communicate Christ’s love,” says Janzen.

While Janzen is busy conducting the KSOC, his wife Kimberly and their three children will join the work being done with Music Mission Kiev.  Besides using their talents musically to minister, the Janzen family will be involved in Bible studies, distributing food, and working with youth, widows, and prisoners.

Janzen was originally contacted by two of the founders of MMK, Roger and Diane McMurrin from Florida.  Janzen says, “I didn’t seek this out. It was an opportunity that offered itself and was a fit with the things that are important to me.”

In the summer of 2006, Janzen found himself conducting Haydn’s Creation in the Ukraine as tearful members of the KSOC played. Janzen says, “When an orchestra plays and a choir sings a great masterpiece that was forbidden by the communists, and when they’re hearing through that music great biblical teaching, it touches their hearts…It’s very moving because you see them respond.”

For more information on the choral program at Trinity Western University call 604-888-7511. Information on Music Mission Kiev can be found at

Trinity Western University, in Langley, B.C., is an independent Christian liberal arts and sciences university enrolling approximately 4000 students. TWU offers 41undergraduate majors, ranging from biotechnology, education, nursing, theatre and music, to psychology, communications and biblical studies. TWU's 17 graduate degree programs include counseling psychology, business, theology, linguistics, and leadership, and interdisciplinary degrees in English, philosophy and history. TWU holds Canada Research Chairs in Dead Sea Scroll Studies, Developmental Genetics and Disease, and Interpretation, Religion & Culture.

Originally posted on the Trinity Western University website, December 2008.




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