The Weber State University Center for Diversity & Unity will host the 12th Annual Gospel Music Festival, “Make A Joyful Noise: A Soulful Celebration,” today at 7:30 p.m. in the Austad Auditorium. Each year, churches from the Ogden and Salt Lake City communities gather to celebrate diversity, unity and gospel music on WSU’s campus.

Mark Henderson, one of the founders of the festival, said he is enthusiastic about the event and its purpose.

“It actually serves one of the purposes of the school,” he said. “We’re considered a metropolitan university, which means that we are the central hub for the community. This is the perfect thing to fill that responsibility. As far as I know, we’re the only non-church event that hosts a gospel festival in Utah.”

When asked about the music, he said, “This is a little different than our typical concerts. Don’t plan on sitting on your hands and clapping politely.”

Catherine Johnson, a sophomore in the gospel choir, said she looks forward to this event every year.

“This is my second year in Gospel Fest, and it is loud, boisterous and lots of fun,” she said. “It’s not your typical music concert. It’s a nice break from the formal stuff.”

When asked what she was most looking forward to, Johnson said she was enthusiastic about student composer Casey Wood’s new arrangement.

“I’m really looking forward to singing Casey’s piece,” she said. “It’s great, and I think that people are really going to like it.”

Wood is a senior in the music program. The piece he composed includes complex chords and a syncopated piano.

“It started because I had to for a choral arranging class,” Wood said. “I knew I had a piece to arrange, and I couldn’t think of what to do. I stumbled upon this song on YouTube written by Elder T. Marshall Kelley, a Seventh-day Adventist preacher. The reason I noticed it was because Mervin Warren was playing the piano, and he’s one of my all-time favorite musicians. He helped start the group Take 6. I thought, ‘If I could write out the piano part for that, I could make a pretty killer choral arrangement.’ Dr. Henderson decided to use it for this concert, and I’m pretty pleased with how it’s gone.”

The concert is free to the public.

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