Commissioning 2016 presents Star Search
unifying our youth through music
The Salvation Army turned the meeting and conference rooms of the Hershey Lodge in Hershey, Pa., into a temporary music conservatory for Star Search 2016 finalists. On every floor of the color–coded, chocolate candy–named wings of the lodge, one could hear the sounds of instruments and voices, acoustic guitars, snare drums, brass, soloists, and drama monologues.
In one room, Samantha Adams, 11, from the New Haven, Conn., Citadel, strummed a guitar. Her father, Captain Charles Adams, was excited to see her perform. Samantha and her two sisters have all learned to play guitar and use their skill and talent in ministry at the corps. Captain Adams says that his daughter’s interest in the guitar has been a blessing to the church.
“We’re seeing the benefits of playing the acoustic guitar in a corps that doesn’t have a brass praise & worship ensemble or band,” says Adams.
Fernando Pacheco, 11, and Astrid Echevarría, 16, flew to Hershey from Puerto Rico to perform in Star Search. Fernando, a soldier at the San Juan Central Temple Corps, performed in the Level 1 snare drum competition, and Astrid, from the Ponce Corps, performed in the Level 3 vocal soloist contest.
Captain Alfonso Ciriaco, corps officer in San Juan, said he felt a great sense of emotion watching Fernando perform.
“It was amazing to see him qualify to attend Star Search, and now he represents not just San Juan, but all of Puerto Rico,” said Ciriaco.
Astrid plays piano and brass horn in the worship band, but this year, she participated in the vocal competition. Unfortunately, her performance was hampered by some technical difficulties.
“I got very nervous when the audio system used for my accompaniment track failed to work properly. Thankfully, they had a piano and a Salvationist who could play the music beautifully,” remembers Astrid. “I was very grateful for her.”
Molli Webb, 21, from the Middletown, Ohio, Corps, performed in drama and in vocal. As probably her last year competing in Star Search, Webb called it “bittersweet.” But she is relieved that now she’ll be free to focus on teaching her craft to other budding artists.
Molli says she has great memories of placing 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in various years of competition, but she stresses that winning is not the reason to come to Star Search.
“It’s a crazy feeling to win or place. But even if you don’t, the experience of just coming to Star Search and being surrounded by all this talent is always worth the trip.”
Korean Corps from Philadelphia, Pa., and from Englewood, N.J., brought their best and youngest talent for the piano soloist display.
Eliana Song, 8, from the Philadelphia Korean Corps, said, “I was nervous to perform. I know I’m the youngest one in my level by a lot, but I think I did well.”
Captain Daniel Choi beamed about the young soldiers from the Englewood, N.J., Corps competing in Level 2 and Level 3 as piano soloists. They were Zoe Kim, 10, and Peter Jung, 13.
“I knew that Peter and Zoe were good, but seeing them perform today exceeded my expectations. I think they went from good to excellent,” said Choi.
by Hugo Bravo