Retiring composer writes ‘A Song for Linfield’

Mikenna Whatley/Features Editor

Dr. Richard Bourassa, Linfield professor of music theory and composition, has always found it easier and more meaningful to express himself through his musical compositions than through verbal communication.

While Bourassa will be retiring at the end of this school year, he recently finished composing a piece of music that will forever leave its mark on Linfield’s students, staff and faculty. The piece is titled, “A Song for Linfield.”

“I find it easy to think musically,” Bourassa said. “When I compose, I think about what it is that I am really trying to say that is important enough to take the time to say it.”

Bourassa certainly did take his time writing “A Song for Linfield.”
“I find I often put too much thought into things,” Bourassa said.
The piece, which is written to emulate the style of an alma mater, was written in two stages. Five years ago, Bourassa wrote the music and asked friend and former Linfield faculty member, Densley Palmer, to write a poem that he could set to the music he had written. To Bourassa’s dismay, Palmer declined this collaboration offer, leaving Bourassa to write the text himself.
While Bourassa had written words for music in the past, he found this particular project quite difficult.

He wanted to be sure that his words encompassed the essence of not just Linfield as a college, but Linfield’s students, alumni, and faculty.

Bourassa’s greatest challenge in writing these lyrics was making sure that the piece would be something that all of these people could look back on and enjoy.

When writing this new and different song, Bourassa was constantly thinking of the large clientele he felt as if he had to please.

“Older people really like the older song because that’s what they’re comfortable with and that’s what they’re familiar with,” Bourassa said. “But those older students are over there, we are here, and I’m on my way out. There are all of these young people that want to have something that they can take with them to remember.”
In order to appeal to the younger generation that Bourassa felt like he was really writing this song for, he focused on the things that are happening now at Linfield that would still be memorable if and when the next alma mater is written.

“That’s what I found really challenging,” Bourassa said. “I don’t know that a captured it, but I sure tried.”

The Linfield Concert Choir will debut Bourassa’s piece at this year’s baccalaureate service on May 31. However, when composing “A Song for Linfield,” Bourassa did not specifically have baccalaureate in mind.

“It’s a piece that’s written to be a sense of identity and reaffirmation and that Linfield students are not alone,” Bourassa said. “It’s a fun, celebrative opportunity for students to reflect upon where they’ve been and where they are going.”

Bourassa found himself reflecting upon his time as a professor here at Linfield as he wrote this piece with his retirement approaching fast.

“I feel that I have been very blessed to have been in an experience where every part of me has been touched by Linfield,” Bourassa said. “I can’t think of anything that I regret.”

Mikenna Whatley can be reached at linfieldreviewfeatures@gmail.com