By: Jarrod J. Irwin '13

Published on

Forrest Wakeman headshot

Forrest Wakeman, a music professor at Aquinas College, has published his first CD. Instrumental Hymns features his piano performances of famous hymns.

Wakeman has an extensive musical resume. He works as an adjunct professor at Aquinas, Calvin College, and Cornerstone University. In addition, Wakeman performs with the Grand Rapids Symphony and the West Shore Symphony Orchestra, as well as national tours of musicals when they visit West Michigan. He is also music director at Blythefield Hills Baptist Church.

Given these accomplishments, Wakeman’s desire to record a CD is not surprising. “It’s something I’ve thought about doing for a long time,” he said. Serving as music director at his church also helped inspire Instrumental Hymns. “I kept getting requests from people wanting to know if I’ve recorded some of the things I’ve done, and I hadn’t.”

Since the CD consists of instrumental versions of songs that are best-known from being sung in churches, Wakeman had the challenge of evoking the subject matter of the hymns using his piano alone. A striking example is “For the Beauty of the Earth,” which Wakeman performs at a rapid tempo with energetic rhythms to convey what the hymn’s lyrics call “grateful praise.”

Wakeman’s interest in worship music developed because these songs gave him his first musical education. He grew up in a small church where hymns like “Come Thou Fount” and “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” formed the core of Sunday worship. One of the goals of Instrumental Hymns, Wakeman wrote in the CD’s liner notes, is to spark an interest in this musical tradition for those who may not be familiar with it. His decision to hold his CD release concert at Aquinas reflects that desire - he will reach an audience that likely knows the Catholic liturgy better than Evangelical hymns.

Currently, Wakeman is working to book more concerts to promote Instrumental Hymns. He said he has never done anything as entrepreneurial as publishing a CD. “The publicity side of this is a whole new experience for me.” When asked about future projects, Wakeman said, “I’ve got lots of ideas, but nothing concrete.” He added, “I’m sure there will be another project of some sort, I just don’t know what it is.” In the meantime, he will be performing in Wicked when the musical stops in Kalamazoo between April 23 and May 5, 2013.

Aquinas will be hosting Wakeman’s debut concert for Instrumental Hymns. The performance is in the Kretschmer Recital Hall on Saturday, February 23, 2013. The doors open at 7 p.m., and the concert begins at 7:30 p.m. Copies of Instrumental Hymns will be available for purchase after the concert.

Instrumental Music can also be purchased on iTunes, Amazon, and, as well as Wakeman’s own website,