Greetings, faithful readers! First, let me thank you for taking this journey with us as we have travelled to Powell River, Canada. When you read this blog, we know your heart joins with us as we share our music and our lives with the people we meet along the way.
Today was a fascinating day! The weather in Powell River has been amazing, and it didn’t disappoint us at all. While it started out cloudy and cool, by mid afternoon, the clouds had burned away, revealing the gorgeous, snow-peaked mountains that have become our constant backdrop.
We competed this morning in the Contemporary category of the competition. These were two of our best pieces, works that we felt did a good job of showing just how much range our choir has. The first, Wiegen-Lied, is a piece written from a schizophrenic’s point of view. Taken from poetry written by a man in an insane asylum, the music does a great job of conveying the sheer horror of trying to fall asleep with multiple voices in your head, competing for your attention. The second piece, Northern Lights, is one of our favorites. If you’ve been to a Chamber Choir concert lately, you’ve seen us perform this. It’s the piece with tuned wine glasses representing the shimmering aurora borealis.
After competition, several of our soloists competed in the solo voice categories. This has been going on all week, with a total of 12 soloists representing PSU at this festival. I had the great fortune to watch Joanna Meline, Jaclyn Casabar, and Michelle Fernandez sing solo earlier in the week. What a joy it is to know we have so many great singers who can compete at such a high level!
This evening, we had a rare experience for our choir. Over the last week, we’ve become known for our performance of Moses Hogan’s Elijah Rock. It’s become something of a local legend, quite honestly. Everywhere we go in the community, people ask us if we are the choir that did Elijah Rock. We gave a performance tonight, a concert with nothing on the line. Just the love of music, and the joy of sharing that with a group of people who paid to hear art being made. We sang several songs, and Elijah Rock was the second to last piece in the set. At the end, poor Ethan had to almost apologize that we had another number! They were so appreciative of the music that we brought to them. We closed the concert with Cohen’s Hallelujah, another favorite of ours.
I think that’s really the theme of the week, to be honest. This community of 14,000 people is so appreciative of music that they commit to hosting an international choral competition and festival every other year. They bring in thousands of musicians from all over the world, and use over a thousand volunteers. Then, the community pays to come to concerts that this remote area of Canada wouldn’t be able to see otherwise. There are 5 choruses here from this community alone, as a part of the showcase. Music is a real passion to them, and they’ve made a true investment in the musical education of their children by bringing in internationally renowned musicians to raise the level of experience in this town. We are truly blessed to be able to sing in this festival, and to be able to share in the goodwill that is brought by the community of Powell River, Canada. It doesn’t matter if we win or not. We are better people for having been here and sung our hearts out.
Eric Christian Stearns
Grad Student, Conducting
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Portland State Chamber Choir
PSU School of Music
1620 SW Park Ave, Lincoln Hall 231
Portland, OR 97201