Mar 11, 2008

Wes Cole brings the unique sounds of the elecrtic violin

by Audrey Blankenship

Wes Cole has gone from a College for a Weekender at one point to the violinist in the Campus Praise Band for three years. Cole has a passion for missions, an interest in aviation and a listening ear for God’s calling in his life.
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Of the many questions Cole is asked, life questions do not rank among the most popular. Rather, inquisitions regarding the instrument he plays are more common.
“Sometimes I have people come up to me and ask, ‘What’s that stick you’re playing?’ Cole laughed. “I say, ‘It’s an electric violin. It’s like the difference between an acoustic guitar and an electric guitar. They are the same instrument, in a way, but one is acoustic and one is electric.’”
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A junior from Birmingham, Ala., Cole turned 21 last week and has played violin since he was five years old.
“I had a friend who was going to take lessons, and so I wanted to, also,” Cole said. “My parents made me wait a year to make sure I wanted to really do it. I did.”
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Cole, who plays both violin and trumpet, calls it “random” that both he and his older brother, who plays bass, just picked up instruments and stuck with them. He was trained in classical violin until five years ago when he stopped lessons and started playing on his own. He joined the Campus Praise Band three years ago and, while he still loves classical music, he enjoys the freedom that worship music gives to his playing.
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“I never really play the same thing twice,” Cole said. “The thing that I love about playing in the Campus Band is that you have the freedom to play and the freedom to come up with something new — new sounds, new things. Classical music is, in a sense, rigid, in that you play more of what’s written on the sheet. There is a sense of freedom, but not as much as playing with a band.”
Cole’s audition at a College for a Weekend secured the position for him, and he joined the band as a freshman.
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“I just showed up and played, and they ended up liking it,” Cole said. “It was not something they were necessarily seeking out.”
With thoughts of joining the U.S. Air Force or becoming a commercial pilot, Cole was drawn to Liberty by the aviation program. The program is not what keeps him here, however, as he now pursues business marketing with the goal of combining business and missions.
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“My plan right now is 100 percent tentative,” Cole said. “I have no idea what is going to happen, but I feel that the Lord has called me to the area of the missions.”
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Cole heads out to the mountains of North Africa for spring break this week to experience life in the mission field firsthand. A trip to Venezuela gave him a taste of missions, and he is eager to serve overseas again.
Despite Cole’s excitement for missions, he has not always had a driving passion for God.
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“I guess I had what seems to be the typical Christian life growing up through middle school and high school,” Cole said. “I feel like I was never really fully on fire for the Lord or surrendered to him. It was kind of like ‘Oh yeah, I’m in high school and I’m a Christian.’ I had times when I was seeking and times when I didn’t care. God has really used Liberty and trials and tribulations in a huge way to bring about a passion in me for seeking after the Lord.”
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While in Lynchburg, Cole may be found playing racquetball at the Sports Racket, hiking the hills or just hanging with friends and grabbing a bite to eat at Chick-fil-A.
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Laid back and easy-going, Cole gets along well with the other band members, and he is amazed at the rock-solid friendships that have developed. The members all share a common love for music and a dynamic faith in their amazing God.
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“It’s really incredible,” Cole said. “They are some of the coolest people I’ve ever been around and the greatest musicians I’ve ever played with. We get along great — like a family — and enjoy spending time with each other and really trying to be the brothers and sisters that we need to be in Christ with each other.”
While Cole does not desire to pursue music as a career, he plans on playing for fun and in the local church wherever he goes. Right now, he simply enjoys playing for the Liberty students.
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“This is a wonderful place that God has placed me in,” Cole said.

Contact Audrey Blankenship at anblankenship@liberty.edu.


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