Students practice artistic collaboration as they join with professional singers to perform a piece by their own choir director
A choral composition by Upper School Music teacher and Choir Director Judy A. Rose will be performed publicly in a special creative collaboration: students from the Catlin Gabel Upper School Choir will perform the piece with the esteemed Portland Symphonic Choir under the direction of Alissa Deeter and Wendy Bamonte.
Judy’s piece is titled Yemaya Assessu (A Hymn of Thanksgiving) and is a Yoruba chant that speaks of the joining of the river with the sea. She will be accompanying the performance of her work on djembe. This performance is part of the Wintersong 2021 concert, December 11 and 12 at the historic First Presbyterian Church in Downtown Portland.
Portland Symphonic Choir is the official choir of the Oregon Symphony, and Portland’s oldest choir, established in 1945. Approximately 70 members of that choir will join the 13 members of the Catlin Gabel Choir. The two groups have been rehearsing separately and will rehearse together just once, the day before the public performance.
After performing Yemaya Assessu, the two choirs will also jointly sing Handel's Hallelujah Chorus. The Catlin Gabel Choir will then sing, on their own, a Japanese folk song titled Murasame and arranged by Victor Johnson.
“They’re very excited,” Judy says of her Catlin Gabel choir members. “They're like, ‘Why would we be performing with a choir of that size—there's only 13 of us?’ And I said, well, it's going to make the song that much better.” Noting that she has only four combined tenors and basses in her choir, and nine combined sopranos and altos, Judy says, “Sometimes when you have such a small choir, it can be intimidating to sing out. But when you have more people, it feels a lot more comfortable. I think this will be very comforting to them.”
The experience is unique for high school students, Judy says, because it gives them a window into the world of professional artists, both as performers and collaborators.
“This is what working artists do,” Judy says. “This is how to forge relationships. You need that as a musician and, as a composer, I need for people to perform my works. So it’s a chance for the students to learn about and practice that concept of collaboration. That's a soft skill, but it's a necessary skill for the rest of their lives.”
“I think that it will be exciting for them to actually be in that space and to perform,” Judy adds, “because it's been a while. We've been missing this for 20 or so months. COVID is not over yet, but there's at least some hope. And that's what audience members get—hope from the joy that is emanating from the singers.”
Learn more about the Wintersong 2021 Concert
“A Weekend of Winter Songs” (Oregon ArtsWatch, Dec. 1, 2021)
learn more about Judy's compositions and collaborations
Judy A. Rose: Composer and Musician. Visit the official website to access published works, music tracks, videos, and more
“Choral Ensemble In Medio Performs Judy Rose’s arrangement of ‘Soon Ah Will Be Done’” (Oregon ArtsWatch, Oct. 26, 2021)
Video: Watch the world premiere of Judy Rose’s arrangement of “Soon Ah Will Be Done” performed by the In Medio choir Oct. 29, 2021 at Portland’s Augustana Lutheran Church