By Lindsey Ziliak
Tribune staff writer
Alicia Dellen’s favorite books as a child described the tales of doctors and nurses who volunteered in impoverished countries around the world.
“I was always deeply impressed by medical missionaries and the work they were able to do,” she said. “I was inspired by them.”
Those books led the Fishers woman to pursue a degree in nursing at Indiana University Kokomo. Dellen will graduate from the local campus May 7.
One day, she hopes to provide basic medical care to people in Central America who receive none right now.
But for now, she’s focused on another kind of mission — a musical one.
The 24-year-old Dellen and her 18-year-old brother are recording a CD of inspirational worship music to give to churches across the country.
A gift from God
Dellen started playing the piano when she was 4 years old.
She and her brother were trained by internationally known artist and performer Tamara Orlovsky. They learned to respect the master composers and play a “pure” interpretation of the music.
The duo won concerto competitions and was invited to play with multiple orchestras.
They are quick to point out, though, their gifts come from a higher power. And the notes they play, they’re a thank you to God.
“Alicia and Matthew have chosen to share and return to God the wonderful blessings they have received,” they say on their new website. “It is their prayer that you will also be blessed.”
But Alicia didn’t always consider it a blessing to play the piano.
Her schedule was regimented and sometimes grueling. She played anywhere from two to five hours a day.
“I hated it at first,” she said.
And then she loved it.
Now, she has to fight to find the time to play.
She has classes and clinicals and homework. The nursing program is tough, she said.
Dellen said she’s lucky if she can find even an hour a day to play. When she can carve out the time, though, she will sit for hours at her piano bench, letting her fingers glide across the keys.
Sometimes she even sneaks off to Kresge Auditorium at IU Kokomo to play the piano there.
She and her brother find music they like from their favorite hymns and play them.
Her favorite: “Take My Life and Let it Be.”
“Take my voice and let me sing, always, only, for my king,” the song says. “Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee.”
Sharing the music
Dellen and her brother are armed with an arsenal of songs that they take to churches as part of their music ministry.
They travel to communities and play concerts at local churches. The idea is to bring the community to the church, she said.
It’s an outreach effort.
Dellen said she hopes to inspire people to get involved in their communities.
When she heads out to those communities in the future, she will have copies of her new CD with her.
Dellen said it will likely contain 10 songs.
She and her brother recorded the songs at a music hall at Andrews University in Michigan over spring break.
“They have beautiful acoustics there,” she said.
Dellen’s father has served as the recording engineer, she and her brother have been using all of their free time to edit the music, and her mom handles the concert bookings.
“It’s a family project,” Dellen said, with a smile.
When she graduates, Dellen hopes the whole family can travel to concerts together, like they used to.
When she was a teenager, the Dellens would play at churches across the country. They trekked to Michigan, Florida, California and New York.
“We’d pack up and all head out in our van,” she said. “I really miss it.”
But for now, Dellen can only focus on school and releasing her CD.
She has finals and state boards to pass. Then she must find a job. She said she would love to work as a nurse in obstetrics or cardiovascular critical care.
Meanwhile, her family is hoping the CD will come out by the beginning of May.
It’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel right now.
“It’s just burning the midnight oil,” she said.
But it will all be worth it if it helps them with their musical mission.
What is that mission?
“Alicia and Matthew wish to inspire individuals to become God’s missionaries in their home communities,” they say on their website. “Christ’s soon return requires each of us to utilize our time, resources and abilities to spread the wonderful news of God’s redeeming power.”