Friday evening, February 26, 2010, friends and family gathered together in The King's Academy theater for a wonderful evening of music and remembrance, paying tribute to Missy, whose love of people, music, life, and the Lord was celebrated.
Marlin Owen and Bob Feller, conductors of the Symphony Orchestra and Symphonic Winds respectively, had been Missy's conductors while she attended Biola. Both had come to love her for her musical abilities as well as her quiet beautiful strength of character.
The idea of having an English horn piece commissioned in remembrance of the tenth anniversary of Missy's death was conceived last year, and Dr. Robert Denham, Biola music composition faculty member, took on the project at Marlin's and Bob's request. He has written a piece that captures the emotions of Missy's life and passsing, the grief that ensued, and the hope we have in Christ, using the qualities of the English horn's hauntingly emotive sound itself combined with alterations in tempo and key to tell the story. The piece moves through the joy of Missy's life, the sudden tragedy of her death, the despair felt by so many of us, and on to the peace and hope found in Christ - we will meet again!
Due to scheduling conflicts, the Tribute Concert itself was delayed until this year, now almost eleven years since Missy's death.
The musicianship and programming was superb and was a testimony to the quality of the Biola music program, but equally impressive - to us as well as to our assembled family and friends - was the absolute kindness, love and caring that was expressed in the sum of all the parts of the evening - the words of affirmation from Dr. Boespflug; Marlin Owen and Bob Feller's inclusion of Missy so warmly throughout the program as they introduced each piece of music; the evocative English horn piece "Missing Missy" (which was played using Missy's English horn); a slideshow of Missy's life; and a fabulous dessert reception - each a memorable part of a magical evening for us all.
The evening ended with a sumptious dessert reception hosted by The King's Academy. This was a great time of fellowship among family and friends. We were impressed and delighted to have many Biola musicians join us, engaging the audience in conversation, demonstrating another aspect of maturity beyond their musical prowess.
Here is part of a letter sent to the Biola musicians who traveled here with this gift of music:
"This was, of course, a tribute concert for a young lady that none of you had the opportunity to know - except through the stories you have heard from Mr. Owen and Mr. Feller. What I can add to the things they have already told you is this: Missy would have, firstly, been absolutely mortified to see herself showcased in the way she was Friday night! She shunned the limelight and far preferred being part of a team effort. You might recall the slideshow photo of Missy with her hand shielding her face from the camera - as photogenic, as well liked (and looked up to), and as charismatic as she was, that was our Missy, wanting to serve unnoticed."
Following the piece "Missing Missy," Steve, Missy's dad, addressed the assembled guests with a few words from the family. After thanking the people at King's and Biola
and the musicians, he observed the following:
"As we thought about this evening we were of course blessed by the thought of an event that honored Missy's memory, of an event at which beautiful music that Missy loved so dearly would be performed, that would bring together two of our favorite families - King's and Biola.
"And if we have learned anything in these almost eleven years since our loss of Missy it is this: Without Christ, all is lost; yet with Christ, all things are possible - even withstanding the loss of a dear daughter.
"We've learned about the peace that passes all understanding - for who among us could really have peace in the midst of a daughter lost, except through Christ? We've learned that this only comes by supernaturally placing faith in the solid rock, the suffering servant Himself, the One who bore our stripes, the Christ - the risen Christ - for through Him alone comes the hope of everlasting, eternal life.
"But we must acknowledge even as we say these words that it is Christ alone who brings comfort and peace, it is Christ alone who brings hope and eternal life. He alone is the way and the truth and the life, and it is to Him that we give glory this night.
"For it is not about King's; and it is not about Biola; and it is not even about Missy - except inasmuch as we celebrate how each one of these - The King's Academy, Biola University, this beautiful gift of music, Missy's life, even us in our grief - how each one continues to declare and bring glory to God the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen."