SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador—The emergence in El Salvador of a national orchestra playing Christian music was something Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Associate Executive Director Jerry Field witnessed with his own two eyes in late August but could scarcely believe.
Three years ago he began to train a local maestro, Mauricio Solis, whose father, Benjamin, was director of the national symphony, but neither he nor the younger Solis could have ever imagined such a glorious outcome. Field offered two phrases—“God working,” and “God has a man,” referring to Solis.
It all started in 2008 when Field and former MBC Worship Specialist John Francis were invited to work with employees of the Ministry of Culture, the National Center for the Arts, and the National Symphony. On that trip they also spent daily workshop time with music craftsmen, symphony orchestra players, and advanced students (ages 15-22) from the national arts center. A return visit in 2009 followed a similar pattern with connections being made with the National Youth Orchestra and two other schools of music.
The MBC was already involved in a church-to-church partnership with El Salvador, but what made Field’s work so unique was that the government sought to pay his expenses. As a trained luthier (a repairer of violins), his skill was in demand, and his ability to train Solis was seen to be a crucial component of what the government was trying to accomplish in music. Francis also brought value to the arrangement with his certification as a piano tuning technician.
“Out of the clear blue it felt like this crazy suggestion—how about you come at the invitation of the government?” Field said.
The culmination of the three-year process came Aug. 27-28, when Field flew to the capital city for a pair of concerts that were designed to launch he El Salvador Christian Symphony Orchestra. A special promotional DVD was even made to explain the vision. Before the first concert, which was held in a public theater, Field was given the task of delivering a motivational talk.
“I told them how completely honored and somewhat overwhelmed I was to have the opportunity to be with them this week,” he said. “It was the fulfillment of a dream, and (I told them) that what they were about to do was historic and that they needed to follow the challenge of the vision of their leader, Maestro Mauricio Solis, and that is not just to be a Christian symphonic orchestra in El Salvador but to have the opportunity to perform internationally in order to take the Gospel there.
“So the vision is just huge, and it’s mind-boggling.”
The second concert was at a church. That was when a woman made a profession of faith.
Solis has already told his musicians to get their passports in order in anticipation of traveling abroad. His platform is already expanding, Field said.
“Mauricio is now doing very well as a luthier and has established a business where he’s the go-to guy for all of the arts community as far as stringed instruments,” Field said. “So he’s established his credibility there, and now particularly after the experience (of the two opening concerts) he had already by Monday noon had phone calls from three different places asking to schedule concerts.”
On the promotional DVD, Solis explains that the slogan for the musicians is “Supreme Worship,” with a goal to render that to “the King of kings and Lord of lords.”
Several government officials and other dignitaries from El Salvador were in attendance for the opening concerts, with Field being interviewed by a news service the first night.
Though the MBC’s official partnership with El Salvador will end Dec. 31, Field is sensing that his symphony work there is only just beginning.
“It’s about the expansion of the Kingdom of God through the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said. “This has offered the opportunity to reach into that culture.”
ALLEN PALMERI/associate editor