Orchestra support choir in concert effort

Kelley Hungerford

Copy editor

The Linfield Chamber Orchestra combines with professional musicians to woo audiences in the concert “Serenade of the Heart” at 8 p.m. Dec. 5 at the McMinnville First Baptist Church, located at 125 S. Cowls St.

With five rehearsals under its belt, the orchestra  is prepared to present an exciting concert. Senior cellist Lucas Bensen said the orchestra has been practicing about two and a half hours a week together, not including individual practice time and with their instrumental sections.

 Michael Gesme, associate professor of music at Central Oregon Community College and music director of the Linfield Orchestra, explained that this will be a unique affair. He said Linfield is sponsoring the concert and Linfield students are in the orchestra, but about two-thirds of the musicians are professionals from cities such as Portland, Eugene, Salem and Vancouver, Wash. He calls it a “mentoring orchestra,” where students get to play side-by-side someone who performs music for a living.

The five student solo singers joining the orchestra will be seniors Anne Muehleck and Sam Dinsmore, junior Doug Hooker, sophomore Helen Kehoe and freshman Kayla Wilkens, along with the Linfield Concert Choir and community singers from the Masterworks Chorale, the community’s concert choir. Gesme said 60-70 people will be on stage. He also said the combination of strings and singers adds another dimension.

“It’s definitely interesting [playing with vocalists] because you have to be a lot more conscious of how loud you’re playing,” Bensen said, noting that the focus in the combination pieces is not the orchestra, but the choir.

Junior bassoonist Katie Sours said it’s fun to play with the choirs because it gives a different atmosphere and ambiance than when playing without vocalists.

“I think it’s great to be able to combine the two aspects of music,” she said.

Sours, Chamber Orchestra Administrator J.P. Bierly said, has been asked to play the principal bassoon part in the Bach piece.

“Technically, I would have a professional bassoonist on principal, and I would sit second chair,” Sours said.

The performance will consist of three songs: The first two, an overture by Handel and a Bach’s “Magnificat,” come from the baroque period and, Gesme said, set the mood for the third piece. This final work is Tchaikovsky’s “Serenade for Strings.”

“‘Serenade for Strings’ is one of the most luscious, beautiful, drop-dead gorgeous pieces of music ever written for strings,” Gesme said, adding that it is a Romantic piece different in style from the initial two songs.

Bierly agreed, saying that he is excited for the Tchaikovsky piece. He said there is no woodwind or brass section for this piece, just string.

“It just doesn’t get any better than that for strings,” he said.

Even though the event is off-campus, Gesme said he anticipates a nice turnout.

“I would expect, based on previous years’ concerts, that we will have a good crowd,” he said.

Admission to the concert is free for students with their Linfield IDs, $5 for K-12
students and $20 for general admission. For more information about this concert or the concert series, please contact Bierly at jbierly@linfield.edu.

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