Zig Installed in Musical Chair
Siegwart ‘Zig’ Reichwald was officially installed as Adams professor of music and worship at Westmont in a day that featured the college choir, orchestra and chapel band performing music from the Psalms, Felix Mendelssohn and rock band U2.
As part of the formal installation ceremony, President Gayle D. Beebe urged Reichwald to be a faithful colleague, a thoughtful professor and a caring friend. “We ask you to continue to bring to life those voices from the past who can speak so eloquently to our present through their music,” Beebe said. “Sometimes this will be through the presentation of great works of music. Other times it will be the scholarship you bring that helps us understand. And still other times you will lift our hearts and minds to eternity. Ultimately, we're asking you to set a tone that elevates the human spirit, and helps bring us into the presence of God.”
Chelle Stearns, an affiliate faculty member of the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology, said she felt gratitude for Westmont’s commitment and support of the arts. “This is so rare today,” she said. “Many universities are cutting the arts and the humanities left and right. And yet today, we are here celebrating music.”
In her charge, she explored why Christians are not only called to sing, but often encouraged and commanded to sing throughout the Psalms. “We sing for one another, but we also sing to praise God and we spiritually form and care for one another as we sing,” she said. “We become the Body of Christ as we sing. So, I say again with the psalmist, ‘Sing to the Lord, a New Song.’”
Reichwald, who replaced inaugural Adams professor Michael Shasberger in fall 2022, earned a doctorate in musicology and a Master of Music in orchestral conducting from Florida State University. He teaches History of Western Music and is a member of the chapel team.
In his keynote address, “What Mendelssohn Can Teach Us About the Psalms,” Reichwald described hearing a spiritual dimension to String Quintet No. 2 and remembering a conversation between Eugene Peterson and Bono. “I have learned how I might listen to Mendelssohn’s late chamber music with new ears,” Reichwald said. Bono had said that the psalmist is brutally honest about the explosive joy he’s feeling or the deep sorrow and confusion. And Bono asked why church music isn’t more like that.
“Mendelssohn’s last two chamber works have Psalm-like qualities, offering honest expression of grief and joy,” Reichwald said. “The complexity and nuance allow us to engage with their topic emotionally and intellectually and invite us to experience their rich content in community. May we take advantage of the gifts of Psalms and Psalm settings in our daily lives, individually and as a community, and learn how to walk honestly with God.”
Reichwald’s latest publication, “Mendelssohn and the Genesis of the Protestant A Cappella Movement,” is due to be released in November.