Music professor conducts orchestra at Feast of Tabernacles in Israel

Michael Mann
Michael Mann, assistant professor of music, conducts Union's first orchestra recital May 2 at First Baptist Church in Jackson, Tenn. | Photo by Matt McDaniel
Michael Mann
Michael Mann, assistant professor of music, conducts Union’s first orchestra recital May 2 at First Baptist Church in Jackson. | Photo by Matt McDaniel

When professors accomplish something great, that accomplishment encourages and inspires the students they instruct.

During the last week of September, Mr. Mann, professor of music at Union, Mann spent about eight days in Jerusalem for an event in which he was asked to conduct an orchestra for the annual Jewish festival known as the Feast of Tabernacles.

At Union, Mann works with the orchestra and the Symphonic Band and teaches percussion and conducting.

“The Feast of Tabernacles is a biblical feast mandated by the Lord in Leviticus 23,” Mann said. “For generations, this is a time of celebration, commemorating the deliverance of the Israelites from the 40 years of desert wandering.”

People from around the world make the long journey to Jerusalem to celebrate with Israel during this festival.

The week-long feast is celebrated by the International Christian Embassy, Mann said, adding that the joyous event filled with worship and guest speakers is visibly represented with the “Jerusalem March,” a parade of the nations of Christians who support Israel.

Five years ago, the music director of the International Christian Embassy contacted Mann about conducting an orchestra.

“My personal role has been to conduct the Feast of Tabernacles International Orchestra that provides the instrumental music and accompaniment to the entire feast celebration,” he said. “There are two weeks of preparation to rehearse musicians from around the world who give their gift of talent as volunteers.”

This is Mann’s fifth time to hold the prestigious position, he said.

He played in the orchestra as a percussionist from 2002 to 2005, then returned as the conductor in 2009, for a total of eight years.

“I have also led four tour groups to Israel, so I’ve now been to Israel 12 times in the last 10 years,” Mann said.

By bringing in musicians from all around the world, the celebration is a key way to focus on the unity and reconciliation of the nations through the bond of Christ.

“The bind with the nations and cultures is twofold: The representation of Christians from all over the world coming to celebrate the feast fulfills the biblical purpose of returning to Israel as a pilgrimage celebrating the past, present and future,” Mann said. “Doing this with the unity of purpose with fellow believers is a labor of love and joy … [and] the political influence of the demonstration of supporting Israel is very encouraging to the people of Israel.”

Mann normally visits various biblical sites around Jerusalem during his stay and, while half a world away, lifts up his students in prayer.

Abby Williams, senior English and music double major, has taken Mann’s classes in the past.

“Every year when Mr. Mann goes to Israel, he stops by the Wailing Wall,” Williams said. “He writes down all of his students’ names and places them in the wall and prays over them.”

She added, “It’s really great to see a professor who cares about his students so much in the midst of all of his responsibilities overseas.”

Music students feel honored to study under him and are not surprised that he has been asked to go back to Israel so many times, Williams said.

“It’s really amazing that Mr. Mann has been given this honor; we’re all really proud,” she said.

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About Sarah Halbrook 7 Articles
Sarah Halbrook, a senior English major and theatre minor, is the arts and entertainment editor of the Cardinal & Cream. She enjoys copy editing and critiquing and has had experiences in editing many academic papers, theses and young adult fiction. When Sarah is not writing or editing, you can find her with the Union theatre and improv team. She hopes to not only get a position in the editing and publishing industry one day but to also get her own work published.