Friday, March 8, 2013

Local students learn in Lagerquist

Choir invitational brings prospective musicians to PLU

by Camille Adams, A&E Writer
The music department at Pacific Lutheran University is working to raise the next generation of choral singers.

Last weekend, the university hosted a choral invitational for local high schools.

On Feb. 28 and March 1, choirs from 18 Washington schools converged on Lagerquist Concert Hall for musical sharing and instruction.

Present at the event were choirs ranging in both size and specialty, from mixed ensembles and a capella groups to women’s choirs.

The music department gave high school singers the opportunity to perform for one another, to receive critiques from university professors and to listen to PLU’s University Chorale and Choir of the West.

The invitational gave students a taste of the PLU singing experience as they performed on the stage in Lagerquist.

Senior William Rigby from Graham-Kapowsin High School called Lagerquist "one of the most unique and breathtaking auditoriums" and said the organ was his favorite part.

Students gained a new perspective on their pieces through workshops with professors, including Richard Nance and Brian Galante.

Junior Zac Bates from Rogers High School said, "it was great to have another ear to pick out things in our performances we wouldn’t think of."

Jitters were common as the high school students took the stage in front of their peers.

"I definitely felt a little intimidated, especially since our school is a lot smaller than others," junior Jon Galaviz, also from Graham-Kapowsin High School, said. "But it was all around a great experience."

PLU conductor Nance said "the performances were truly outstanding."

Around midday, the choirs took a break from performing and took a turn in the audience.

Paul Tegels, an associate professor of music and university organist, showed off the full range of PLU’s unique organ as a special treat for the visitors.

University Chorale then took the stage with a selection of music from their upcoming tour in April. On Feb. 28, Galante used one of Chorale’s pieces to represent the rehearsal process.

Many high school students were familiar with the use of solfege, a widely employed musical technique, in the song.

Under the direction of Nance, Choir of the West followed Chorale’s set.

Bates said, "it was so cool to see Choir of the West, especially the song by one of the students." PLU senior Julian Reisenthel’s "Ubi Caritas, Hebu Upendo!" was one of several pieces Choir of the West performed from their recent January tour.

After a lunch break, the choirs resumed their performing and polishing.

For some students like Rigby, this was their third or fourth time participating in the invitational, but for others like Galaviz, the whole experience was brand new.

Galaviz said, "I have always heard PLU sounds amazing, but this was the first time I have actually been able to hear them."

Nance said he thinks the event is beneficial for the high school choirs because they are still growing as singers in spring semester, and can receive the most influence from other performers at that time.

"Being able to sing in our hall and to hear each other in a relaxed, informal atmosphere is inspiring," Nance said.

PLU’s music department is one of the university’s greater admission attractions.

Events like the choral invitational are an opportunity to attract and inform prospective students. Bates said, "after today, I think PLU lives up to expectation. It is a comfortable school, and it’s nice that it’s so close to home."