An eclectic mix
As a first-year student at Calvin, Kelvyn Koning was interested in writing and performing pop music. When he came to Calvin’s classically based music department, his interests began to broaden. He also joined Jazz Band and sang in Capella.
“I felt versatile but also confused,” Kelvyn remarked. “I was involved in an eclectic mix of different styles for both writing and performance.”
Before coming to Calvin, Kelvyn had never really been in a position of serious leadership. That changed when he served as a worship apprentice his sophomore year. Through mentorship and guided training, worship apprentices take an active role in planning and leading worship services.
“Being a worship apprentice and worship intern really stretched me,” Kelvyn reflected. “This was the first time I was in charge of coordinating songs and leading a group of people. Worship director Paul Ryan was a great teacher and mentor for me.”
The turning point
By his senior year, Kelvyn was still wondering how his love for so many styles of music fit together. The moment of revelation happened during an opportunity Calvin connected him to through the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities: a performance-intensive semester at the CMC in Nashville.
“I learned a lot while I was there. It was my chance to explore the pop music world, and I discovered that I did not like it,” Kelvyn laughed. “People told me that my style sounded more like musical theater.”
Kelvyn explained that musical theater often sounds very eclectic, drawing from many styles of music.
“So I decided to try putting my chips in the musical theater basket.”
After graduating from Calvin, Kelvyn got his master’s degree in composition from the Boston Conservatory of Music so that he could prepare to write musicals.
Coming full circle
When he came out of grad school, Kelvyn found himself revisiting the leadership role that he discovered as a worship apprentice at Calvin. He got a job as a worship director for a church in Boston, and it didn’t take long for him to realize why he was drawn to church leadership.
“I think we need to understand that worship isn’t about us individually—it’s about God and the community. It’s important to practice empathy in that.”
Kelvyn also discovered that his love of musical theater and worship come from a common thread.
“They are both places to challenge and grow people. That’s one of the reasons I love musical theater and its connection to church and worship. The theater was originally designed as a way to get people from all backgrounds together in order to foster empathy and community learning. I love this model for the church as well,” Kelvyn shared. “Along a similar vein, I feel that both musical theater and worship music are stylistically eclectic. And so, I get to use my experiences with a variety of genres in musically fulfilling and worshipful ways.”