The Linfield Chamber Orchestra opened its final concert of the season with the rich sounds of a Felix Mendelssohn piece. But it was the second half of the concert that really stunned the audience.
The concert was titled “Reformation and Consolation” and took place May 4 at McMinnville’s First Baptist Church. The church was packed to the point where it was hard to find seats, and the ushers ran out of programs.
The concert’s first half featured Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 5, “Reformation.” The strong chords and majestic sound got an enthusiastic applause out of the audience.
After an intermission, the Linfield Choir joined the orchestra onstage for the second half and the main feature of the concert, which was the Mozart Requiem.
“Singing with an orchestra was quite cool,” sophomore Gülfem Torunlar said. “At first, I was afraid they’d be so loud we would have to sing even louder to be heard. I thought they sounded great, and they told us we sounded great, so we had a good dynamic between us.”
Sophomore Lauren Pak said in an email that the orchestra typically performs one concert a year with the Linfield Choir.
“It is a good experience because, individually and as a whole, we have to be extremely aware of the voices and instruments and make sure that everything is balanced properly so that everyone can be heard at the appropriate time,” Pak said. “For some movements, I felt prepared, but others were exceedingly difficult for me to play because of the rapid tempo. This orchestra has always had a high level of repertoire and the music for this concert maintained that standard.”
Before they began the requiem, the conductor of the Linfield Chamber Orchestra, Michael Gesme, introduced two of the student musicians, seniors Don DeFrang and Amanda Summers. He also gave recognition to Anna Song, assistant professor of music and director of choirs, for her work with the choir.
“The most influential person is the one you don’t see; it’s the person who prepared the choir,” Gesme announced to the audience. “And this is, bar none, the best-prepared choir I’ve ever worked with.”
As the requiem began, it was obvious that the audience felt the same way. The choir had an energy and movement that kept everyone’s attention on them, and there was a tension in the air after every movement, as if the audience was just longing to applaud.
Torunlar said although the choir felt reasonably sure of themselves the evening of the performance, they had to do a lot of things last-minute because of the choir tour schedule.
“It was quite stressful,” Torunlar said. “We learned three of the movements before the choir tour, and the rest after the tour. We were like ‘wow, we have a whole book to learn in a month.’ I’m glad we pulled it off.”
The Mozart Requiem featured five soloists. Sophomore Jaimie McDonald and senior Kayla Wilkens sang soprano, senior Jen Boston sang contralto, senior Logan Freitas sang the tenor solos and senior Jeremy Moll sang bass.
Torunlar said the choir had to put in a great deal of time and work into practicing.
“Usually, we have half-hour sectional practices, but then we started doing 45-minute sectionals and then hour sectionals,” Torunlar said. “I feel like we practiced so much, if we would have practiced it any more, we would have gotten bored. As it was, there was some nostalgia after we finished it.”
The requiem’s final chord was so strong that the audience sat for a moment in awed silence, broken only by a hushed “Wow!” from one audience member, before bursting into a thunderous standing ovation.
“It was a really cool experience, and I’m glad I got to sing it,” Torunlar said. “[Song] kept telling us groups don’t usually do this requiem because it’s so challenging. That felt epic. We felt so tough, doing this thing that not many choirs do.”
Pak said she thought the concert went extremely well overall.
“It is the best the LCO has ever sounded, and I am so grateful to have been a part of such a great performance,” Pak said.
Sharon Gollery/Culture editor
Sharon Gollery can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.