Beatrice Buob ’03: Sharing the Gospel Through Happy Voices

by Nathan Foster

Beatrice Buob ’03 had almost given up on her dream of pursuing a career in music when she learned of Azusa Pacific University. Originally from St. Gallen, Switzerland, Buob had been told by Swiss music schools that she was too old for their programs. Fortunately, her brother lived in San Diego. Buob searched for Christian universities in Southern California that didn’t have age limitations. After being accepted at APU, she moved more than 6,000 miles to pursue her dream. Although she originally planned on only taking a few classes, Buob enjoyed the program so much that she went on to earn her Master’s of Music in Conducting.

From her first day on campus, Buob was struck by how different APU’s community and welcoming environment were compared to her educational experience in Switzerland. “Students would come up to me and check in to see how I was doing. If I said I wasn’t so good, they would stop and pray with me. I was impressed by their friendliness and faith,” she said. Buob felt this same reception from the faculty. “I had professors who invited me to join their family for dinner. Even now, when I come back, they still invite me.”

After graduating, Buob was offered a job leading the African Children's Choir. She traveled to Ireland, England, and Scotland with the choir, supporting children from Rwanda and Uganda as they sang to vast audiences. Three months later, Buob returned to Switzerland and her home church, where she taught private voice lessons and began a Gospel choir. “I started Happy Voices in October 2004 and it’s still going nearly 20 years later,” she said. “I always wanted to be a missionary. He sent me back to Switzerland because this community choir is my mission field.”

Happy Voices performs regularly at the local Reform Church. The choir also sings at eight concerts every year in churches across Switzerland. Buob loves watching the choir grow. “As a conductor, you have the gift of seeing what a choir is capable of. I like to push them. They are surprised at what they can accomplish by the end of the season,” she said. “They have to believe so they can do more than they thought possible.” Under Buob’s care, the group has grown to 24 members with more planning to join.

Buob said many who attend the concerts are not believers. Through the Christian songs Happy Voices sings, Buob hopes to change that. “For people who come to our concerts who don’t believe in God yet, I hope to plant seeds,” she said. “I preach a bit between songs, talking about my personal experiences with God. I think that touches people’s hearts because they can relate to it.” Buob also aims to spread her faith in other ways. She hosts weekly events in her home where people can come to enjoy baked goods and coffee, fellowshipping together. Buob also holds worship nights at her house once a month. “Through this fellowship and Happy Voices, I’ve seen people become born again Christians.”

Reflecting on her personal journey, Buob said she is grateful to be using her God given talents to serve others. “I never thought I could actually conduct music in Switzerland,” she said. “But APU made that possible and here I am.”

Nathan Foster '20 is the public relations manager in the Division of Strategic Communication and Engagement.