Wayland music department to present benefit concert for water project 

October 18, 2012

PLAINVIEW -- On Thursday, Oct. 25, Wayland Baptist University music faculty and students will present a benefit concert to help raise awareness about clean water.

“Rain Water Music,” will be held at 7:30 p.m. in Harral Auditorium. The public is invited and admission is by donation. The concert will be preceded at 7 p.m. by a brief lecture about the Tanzanian Aqua Project and the mpingo tree, the focus of the fundraising concert.

According to Dr. Sandra Mosteller, professor of instrumental studies at Wayland, the concert is part of an overall effort that includes a partnership between the Wayland School of Music and Rotary International. The initiative was launched by the Boone Sunrise Rotarians in Boone, N.C., who are working with fellow Rotarians in Tanzania. The Plainview Rotary Club also is partnering in the project.

In a recent presentation to the Plainview Rotary Club, Mosteller said that her interest in the project grew from an interview she did for a professional magazine with Phil Muncy of Muncy Winds Music Co. She explained that Muncy’s initial interest in work in Tanzania revolved around the mpingo tree — or East African Blackwood.

The mpingo is prized by musicians because the hard, dense, black wood produced by the tree is used to make clarinets and other musical instruments. However, according to information from the website, www.mpingoconservation.org, there is a growing concern over the fate of the mpingo tree in Africa. The website explains that the tree already is commercially-extinct in Kenya from over harvesting and is commercially-threatened in Tanzania. The tree takes 70-100 years to reach harvestable size. In addition to its uses in the music industry, it also is used indigenously and is a popular wood for parquet floors in the Far East.

However, Mosteller continued, when Muncy and others began to look at the possibility of starting a tree-planting initiative in Tanzania, they came to a sobering realization. The plight of the human population in Tanzania was more troubling than that of the mpingo tree and many of those human issues centered around the availability of clean water.

For all intents and purposes there is no source of clean water for rural communities in Tanzania. Residents get their water from sources ranging from rivers and lakes to mud holes and all of it is contaminated and a potential cause of disease.

At the same time, children have little time for education because they must regularly search for and transport water over several miles for their families.

In light of that realization, the Boone Sunrise Rotary Club launched The Tanzanian Aqua Project. The goal of the project is to establish rainwater collection programs where the water is collected and then distributed to those in need. The idea is to locate those distribution points at schools and churches in the communities.

Mosteller, whose instrument of choice is the clarinet, said that once she learned of the project, it had an immediate impact on her.

“Most Tanzanians have never heard a clarinet play, and as they struggle at the most primal levels, this would be far from a priority. This benefit concert gives me hope that we can truly make a difference,” she said.

According to Dean of the School of Music Dr. Ann Stutes, it didn’t take much for her and her colleagues to catch Mosteller’s enthusiasm for the Tanzanian Aqua Project. The faculty and staff quickly realized that it also presented an excellent teaching opportunity.

“The Wayland School of Music is called to provide opportunities for our students to share as servant leaders and also to understand their potential effectiveness in global ministry efforts,” Stutes said. “In addition, this particular project teaches them the importance of environmental stewardship and creation care. We hope each of our music graduates will leave our institution aware of their potential to help make the world a better place through their music. The benefit concert is a perfect platform for our students to learn how to make a difference.”

The concert will include a variety of musical selections, both instrumental and vocal. They will be performed by faculty and students. In addition, students are working as mission education coordinators and on the publicity team.

“Dr. Kimberly Brown is coordinating the performance and Dr. Mosteller is steering the missions and environmental education portion of the event,” Stutes said.

Mosteller said the concerns about the mpingo tree still are part of the emphasis, but it is critical to work at meeting the human needs, as well.

“As a clarinetist and a human, I am deeply saddened that we are so far away from resolving these problems. To me, raising money for rainwater collection programs is the first step in helping Tanzanians to be self-sufficient. My hope is that we may make it to phases beyond — teaching the Tanzanians the importance of the mpingo tree to their own land and crops, and to replenish this tree and wood that is beloved to me an millions of people around the world,” Mosteller said.

For more information, contact the Wayland Baptist School of Music at 806-291-1076.