Choir Performs at First Presbyterian Church

Change in scenery allows use of organ, student conducting

By Callia Peterson, Staff writer

There was a change of scenery for the advanced choir Winter Postlude concert on March 19. The performance moved from the LHS auditorium to First Presbyterian Church.  

“The concert was packed, we had to set up about 100 (additional) chairs in the foyer for the crowd,” choir director, Dwayne Dunn said. “This church was barely big enough to handle it.”

Assistant choir director, Randall Frye works closely with the director of First Presbyterian Church as the organist. He was able to snag the space and the Pipe Organ for the concert. This was a treat for the LHS Choir Department.

“We were able to sing many pieces with organ accompaniment that we cannot perform in the LHS Auditorium.” Dunn said. “Also, it was neat to be able to sing in the acoustical environment of another space, which brought more members of the community to our concert that might not normally attend.”

This was the first time Dunn was able to pick pieces meant to be performed with an organ. He had many to choose from, organ and choir pieces date back 300 years.

Dunn said among his favorites were: “Personent Hodie” performed by Acapella, “Lacrymosa” performed by Concert Choir, “Sacred” (particularly notable for its lack of english and amount of “yoik” syllables) performed by Bellissima, and Festival Te Deum by Acapella.

“I have wanted to conduct the Britten ‘Festival Te Deum’ for about 40 years,” said Dunn. “So it was a thrill to get to finally check that off my bucket list.”

In addition to the student choir performances, Frye played a four movement organ solo entitled, “O Jerusalem: Symphony No.1 for Organ” to show off what the organ could do. This was in addition to the pieces he accompanied and conducted.

“I am a big proponent of introducing students and audiences to the glory that a Pipe Organ can bring,” Frye said. “It is one of the highlights of my career to do this concert.”

Seniors Macy Landes and Karenna Peterson got the opportunity to student conduct at the concert. Peterson led Concert Choir in “Ubi Caritas” and Landes led Bellissima in “Wherever You Are (The Military Wives Prayer)”.

“Sometimes students who are interested in pursuing a music degree in college will ask for an opportunity to conduct a piece,” Dunn said. “If we can figure out a way to make it possible, we like to give them that chance.”

The student conductors worked with their choirs and choir teachers to learn the tricks of the trade. They were taught how to plan a lesson, what to expect in rehearsal, how to process the sounds they were hearing and decide what comes next, and how to use gestures effectively.

“There were some tricky spots where there were fermatas and meter changes that I had to learn how to show,” Landes said. “They were very forgiving, maybe too forgiving, when I messed up on something and it felt like we were all a team working to make the song presentable to an audience.”

Both Landes and Peterson will be pursuing music in college. Peterson plans to pursue a Bachelor of Music major in Vocal Performance and minor in Musical Theater at Ohio State University. Landes is undecided but plans to pursue music in college as well.

“It’s a really cool opportunity to try your hand at teaching when you’re still in high school,” Landes said. “Because I want to go into music in college, it’s been really useful to me.”

With all of the effort that went into making this concert special and unique, for Dunn, the reaction from the audience made it worth it.

“The immediate standing ovation at the end was very gratifying,” Dunn said. “People seemed to really appreciate the extra work that went into this concert.”