Hope College will commemorate its sesquicentennial with two major events on Saturday, April 30: a seminar about the college’s history and a celebration featuring a musical composition commissioned for the occasion.

The history seminar will be presented at 3 p.m. in the Haworth Inn and Conference Center.  The sesquicentennial celebration will take place at the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts, and will begin with a reception at 4:30 p.m. with the musical performance following at 5 p.m.

The public is invited to both events.  Admission is free.

Hope has been celebrating its sesquicentennial across the 2015-16 school year.  The college received its charter from the State of Michigan on May 14, 1866.

The 3 p.m. seminar will feature reflections by three of the authors involved in a comprehensive history of Hope being written in conjunction with the sesquicentennial.  The two-volume book, “An Enduring Hope: A Sesquicentennial History of Hope College, 1866-2016,” will be published later this year.

Dr. Jacob Nyenhuis, who is co-leading the initiative, will give an overview of the entire project and highlight key discoveries about the college’s history.  Dr. Dennis Voskuil will present insights into the relationship between the college and the Reformed Church in America, and Dr. Elton Bruins will give a summary of his approach to creating a list of alumni of distinction.  Nyenhuis retired this past fall as director of the college’s A.C. Van Raalte Institute, and is provost emeritus and professor of classics emeritus at Hope; Dr. Dennis Voskuil is the current director of the A.C. Van Raalte Institute and is the retired president of Western Theological Seminary as well as a former member of the Hope religion faculty. Dr. Elton Bruins was the founding director of the A.C. Van Raalte Institute and is retired from the Hope faculty as the Evert J. and Hattie E. Blekkink Professor Emeritus of Religion.  The three scholars had presented an earlier version of the seminar during the college’s Winter Happening on Saturday, Jan. 23.

Following the 4:30 p.m. reception, the sesquicentennial celebration will feature “I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes (Psalm 121),” composed for Hope by highly respected choral conductor Robert Shafer through a commission from Dr. Thelma (Tommye) Leenhouts, a 1966 Hope graduate.  Written for choir and organ, it will be performed by the college’s Chapel Choir in the Concert Hall of the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts.

Shafer’s career as a choral conductor, composer, educator and church musician in the Washington, D.C., area spans nearly 50 years.  He has been artistic director of the City Choir of Washington since its launch in 2007, and was previously music director of the Washington Chorus for more than 35 years.  Among other acclaim, he won the Best Choral Performance Grammy in 2000 for a live concert recording of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem.

He also understands schools like Hope well.  Since 1983, he has been artist-in-residence and a professor of music at the Conservatory of Music of Shenandoah University, a comprehensive private, church-affiliated, liberal arts university of approximately 4,000 students in Winchester, Virginia.  To inform his composition, though, he visited Hope and met with faculty and students.

The sesquicentennial events are scheduled in conjunction with the college’s Alumni Weekend, which will also feature a variety of other activities, including the annual Alumni Banquet on Saturday, April 30, at 6 p.m. in Phelps Hall dining hall; the presentation of Distinguished Alumni Awards to 1983 graduate Dr. Tim Laman and 1959 graduate Dr. Thomas Nowotny; a ceremony celebrating the 50-year Class of 1966; and reunion events for the classes of 1966, 1971, 1976, 1981 and 1986.

Hope’s sesquicentennial celebration began with the college’s 150th Commencement on Sunday, May 3, 2015.  Still to come, and to wrap up the year-long commemoration, Hope will be the grand marshal during Tulip Time’s GMB Architecture + Engineering Muziekparade in Holland on Saturday, May 14, 150 years to the day since the college received its charter.

The Haworth Inn and Conference Center is located at 225 College Ave., between Ninth and 10th streets.  The Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts is located at 221 Columbia Ave., between Ninth and 10th streets.

More information about the college’s sesquicentennial is available here.

More about Alumni Weekend is available here.

More about Tulip Time is available here.