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Haydn’s “Creation” concludes Wheaton's Creation Week

At 7:15 p.m. on Saturday, the air in Edman Chapel was electric as students, alumni and visitors waited for Wheaton College’s Women’s Chorale, Men’s Glee Club, Concert Choir, Symphony Orchestra and other acclaimed guests to take the stage and perform Haydn’s “Creation.” The musical event was the capstone of Creation Week on Wheaton’s campus. Creation Week was designed by assistant professor of choral music John Trotter, and associate professor of music Tony Payne. The week began with chapel on Nov. 10 as Bible and theology professor John Walton spoke about the ordering of the cosmos. The week was full of events on and off campus all themed around celebrating God’s creation.
Haydn’s “Creation” has been tweaked many times. It was originally written in German and translated to English. According to Trotter, guest conductor and Maestro John Nelson went one step further and brought his own translation of Haydn’s “Creation” to Wheaton for its debut performance. Nelson was in Wheaton for two weeks prior to the concert to work with Wheaton voice students, the conservatory of music ensembles and guest soloists Timothy Bentch, Adam Lau, Kathryn Lewek, Nathaniel Olson and Abigail Santos Villalobos, whom Nelson hand-picked from across the nation.
“Nelson has a massive insight into the size and scope of what he is working with,” said Trotter. “He is so good with both the orchestra and the choir, which is rare in a conductor, and he is extremely passionate about his work.”Wheaton’s ensembles were joined by Wheaton professors such as  guest lecturer in viola Rose Griffin in the viola section, professor of music Daniel Paul Horn on the harpsichord, associate professor of trumpet emeritus Terry Schwartz in the trumpet section and many others.
“The Creation” rang out for close to two hours, documenting the creation of earth from movement two, in which the soloists and chorus describe God creating light, to the end of Act I, in which Adam and Eve are created and happy together because what God created was very good.
After the intermission Trotter took the stage to announce that tenor Timothy Bentch, who represented the angel Uriel, was feeling under the weather and needed assistance to complete the show. Sophomore James Ley and senior Jonathan Cramer both worked with Nelson during the two weeks he was on campus and were asked to step in during certain movements. Ley sang movements 24 and 25 and Cramer sang movement 32.
“It was truly a great blessing to work with John Nelson. He knows what he wants from the singers, and he gets it out of them. You can tell from his time on campus what joy he has for Wheaton and the students,” said Ley. “I shared the stage with those amazing soloists. This is what I want to do with my career, and I got a taste of it so young.”
“Creation is a poignant and pregnant political issue both here at Wheaton and throughout society; everyone wants to know how everything got here. It’s an occasion for joy to be in a place that we have everything we need and a great work on issues that do not just go away,”  said Trotter.
“Humans like to think of themselves as gods, but we’re not good gods. We’re well-made creatures. We need to think about what it means to accept who we are and who we were created to be and think about what it means to accept that what God says is good really is good.”

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