Lancaster Mennonite High School choral director Marcy Hostetler will lead a 19-member international ensemble of singers and instrumentalists at the Mennonite World Conference Assembly in Harrisburg July 21-26. Members of the ensemble hail from India, Congo, Ethiopia, Germany, Mexico, Spain, Indonesia and Colombia. About 7,000 people (from 83 countries) are expected to attend the assembly, known as PA 2015, at the 14-acre Farm Show complex.
The international ensemble will arrive in Harrisburg to practice three days before the assembly. They will perform throughout the week at morning and evening services, each evening focusing on a different continent. The first night will feature Latin America.
Hostetler was tapped for the task because, along with being an accomplished director, she has a great deal of international experience. From birth to age 9, Hostetler lived in Brazil, where her parents were missionaries. While an undergraduate at Goshen College, she studied music in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). After college, she lived a year in Germany. A few years later, she led a Mennonite Central Committee Youth Discovery Team in a study of African and North American musicians. More recently she took Lancaster Mennonite High School’s select choir, the Campus Chorale, on a concert tour of South Africa that included learning African music.
Hostetler is excited about pulling together the diverse group of talented musicians from around the world.
“At some point you have a chance to do something that you will never have again. My life experience has brought me to this point. At some point you have to take leadership. It’s daunting. But there are people who believe in me. My gift is the ability to engage people in music making.”
Along with helping to select the musicians and singers, Hostetler is responsible for choosing the music for the assembly. One of her favorite pieces is “Total Praise,” a gospel song by Richard Smallwood.
“I just love it,” Hostetler says. “It’s a powerful piece.”
Hostetler is currently most visible in the community through her work in directing Lancaster Mennonite School’s select auditioned performance choir, the Campus Chorale.
“People ask me at school how I got that sound out of the kids. I say, ‘You have to get out of their way and at the same time shape them. You don’t over control.’ ”
Hostetler lives in Lancaster and is a member of Community Mennonite Church.