Night of Music

Event supports, raises funds for teens competing in National Fine Arts Festival in Orlando, Florida

Christian music lovers are being invited to enjoy an evening of inspiring and diverse performances while helping teens develop their ministry gifts.

A Night of Music will be held at 6 p.m. June 23 at Trans4mation Church, 1001 S. First St. Admission is $5.

The event is a fundraiser for nine youths competing at the National Fine Arts Festival from July 30 to Aug. 3 in Orlando, Florida.

The teens from Altoona, who will represent the Pennsylvania-Delaware District of the Assemblies of God in various categories, are: Isaac Baker, Alex Barnes, Raquel Dunio, Roman Dunio, Emily McGuire, Ashley Moyer, Zach Scalice, Cassara Stanley and Nathan Suhoney. Among the areas where they will compete are short sermon, vocal ensemble and human video.

Those are categories within the main divisions of art, communication, dance, drama, enterprise, exhibition, instrumental, vocal and writing. The competition begins in September, when more than 65,000 students nationwide begin preparing for section and district competitions held in February and April.

The Florida-bound teens will showcase their achievements at the Night of Music along with a teen worship team and adults, who will sing, dance or play an instrument.

Sherry Dunio, director of the Fine Arts program for Trans4mation Church, said a similar event was held several years ago, and it was well received.

Troy Ferguson, senior associate pastor at the church, assists the teens with polishing their performances. He said selections will focus on contemporary and traditional sounds and will present different styles.

Every performance will contribute to the variety, he said.

In addition to taking in the performances, concert-goers will have the opportunity to take home one of several theme baskets through a Chinese auction as well as a wood carving created by Mike McGuire of Altoona.

Dunio said she believes it is important for others to support the teens’ efforts.

“I feel that these kids have been given gifts, and it is our job to direct them to use those gifts for the Lord,” she said.

“If we don’t, they will still use them, but for the world. We want to provide a setting where they will use them for God.”

She said through the competition process, the teens learn life skills.

“They not only develop their talents, but self-confidence. They have to learn how not to be afraid when you get in front of a crowd. They learn communication skills and teamwork,” Dunio said.

She added that the students have to learn commitment. She said many of them are athletes and are involved in other activities in school. Yet, they have to make time to practice for the fine arts competitions and be respectful of other people’s schedules.

Dunio added that while athletic abilities may diminish with age, musical skills continue to be fulfilling.

“They are investing in lifelong talents,” she said.

Among those taking part in the competition is her and her husband Dave’s daughter, Raquel.

The 17-year-old high school senior has been a contestant at previous Fine Arts Festivals, held in Florida and in Kentucky, when she was in seventh and eighth grade.

For her, it was fun to be with friends from her youth group.

“It was like a mini-vacation together,” she said.

She also got to see a multitude of kids from all over the United States.

“It was cool to see all of them. It’s a fun experience no matter how you placed.”

But competing at the national level is costly. The Dunios’ son, Roman, is also competing. She said registration alone for the two children was $900.

The team, which includes chaperones, will economize by renting a home and preparing meals there.

Dunio said the Night of Music is a way to support teens who are doing something good.

Looking ahead to the competition, Raquel said it is a little bit of pressure, because she wants to present a good performance no matter what the outcome.

“You don’t do it for yourself,” Raquel said. “You do it for God.”