Amy Mack is not a paleontologist. The prospect of years going by without a bone to show for it drove her away from her dream job. At the age of 8, she forsook the field and devoted herself to music. She has not deviated from that path since.
While it was Amy’s twin sister, Wendy, who first showed interest in composing, Amy’s enthusiasm soon outstripped Wendy’s. What started as harmonizing with her sister gave way to hours spent in front of a piano, creating. When stuck, Amy would ask Wendy to make up a story which she would build her music around.
“She’s always been really good – always been really passionate about her music… very innovative,” Wendy says. Having been self-taught for most of her life, Amy did not begin to receive formal training until shortly before starting college.
Apart from music, Amy also writes poetry, some of which she then sets to music.
“For as long as I can remember, she’s been writing poetry” Wendy says. “And really good poetry… I remember the Columbia exploded, she wrote a poem about it; 9/11 happened, she wrote a poem about it. Different things, good or bad. Snow fell, she wrote a poem about it.”
Now a senior music composition major at The Master’s College, Amy is still setting stories to music. One of her latest works, based on George MacDonald’s “The Light Princess,” a fairy tale about a princess cursed with weightlessness, will be premiering on Feb. 27 at Grace Baptist Church with another performance being given at The Master’s College on March 6.
George MacDonald (1824-1905) has influenced fantasy authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien, E. Nesbit, and C.S. Lewis. The allegorical tale of “The Light Princess” served as inspiration for Lewis’s “The Chronicles of Narnia.”
“It’s an incredibly powerful story,” Amy says.
The response to the piece has been enthusiastic, with the 60 piece orchestra of Grace Baptist Church volunteering to perform it and the other works featured in the concerts. Jay Wegter, an artist, pastor and adjunct Bible professor at The Master’s College, has contributed 10 paintings for “The Light Princess” which will be displayed at the events.
The Light Princess has been called graduate-level work, far exceeding what could be expected of an undergraduate at a liberal arts college. Amy began working on the piece this past April.
“I’ve gotten to see her develop it from the ground up,” says Sarah Wallin Huff. Huff has been teaching music composition at The Master’s College since September of 2012. “…I love it. I absolutely love it. She grew so much in her work.”
Though The Light Princess is the headlining piece, Amy was inspired to put on the concerts by one of her other works entitled Father Forgive Them which is based on Luke 23:34.
“That verse really impacted me,” Amy says. “And the words just started coming and then I had this tune I couldn’t get out of my head no matter what I tried and I realized I needed to write it down… Writing that song, I realized that it felt like God was calling me to use music for Him.”
Amy sees music as more than a means of entertainment. To her, it is a powerful tool for sharing her faith.
“Music reaches past the intellect and touches the heart,” Amy says. “…words can be easily filtered out, but music bypasses all of a person’s filters. So in a sense, I can use music to reach someone who doesn’t want to listen to anything else.”
By Caleb Chandler