Choral students combine with ISU Symphony Orchestra

Lani Tons

The symphony orchestra and all four choirs at Iowa State are ready to give one last performance together in their “Masterworks” concert.

The concert takes place on April 25 at 7:30 p.m.

Songs that are chosen for this performance are not just ones that compliment the musical acts together, but are picked carefully. This time they are from Johannes Brahms’ “Requiem.”

The collaboration of the symphony orchestra and choirs happen each year. Choir student and sophomore in industrial engineering Josiah Green anticipates a great combination.

“The best part of collaborating with the symphony orchestra is being able to do music with students from other ensembles. Being able to come together [to] perform the same piece of music is an amazing bonding experience,” Green said.

James Rodde, director of choral activities, prepares two of the choirs in the performance. The collaboration with choirs and instruments is important in helping students learn to combine what they have learned over the school year.

“This gives students exposure to that kind of literature. There is great repertoire for both singers and instrumentalists, and a chance for our music students to work together,” Rodde said.

Jacob Rigdon, senior in computer engineering, feels honored to perform not only with his choir peers, but also with other talented instrumentalists.

“In my experience as a singer, it is a rare occasion to perform with much more than a piano accompanist or small wind or percussion ensemble or solo,” Rigdon said. “Being on stage with a symphony orchestra is a great experience. There is so much to listen to.” 

Maxwell McClelland, senior in supply chain management, enjoys how he can learn from combining with the symphony orchestra.

“The best part about collaborating with the symphony orchestra is that there are so many new sounds produced than when the choir sings without them. It is a totally different experience than when the choirs sing alone with a piano,” McClelland said.

The audience can expect a musical journey from the comfort of their seats in Stephens Auditorium.

“Our attendees will hear one of history’s finest choral-orchestral works. Over 300 singers, orchestra and two student soloists,” Rodde said.

Along with Rodde, Kathleen Rodde, senior lecturer of music and theatre and Jacob Harrison, assistant professor of music and theatre, helped put together the ensembles for this concert.

“I prepare two of the choirs, Kathleen Rodde prepares two others and Jacob Harrison prepares the orchestra. This year Dr. Harrison will conduct the performance,” Rodde said.

Harrison, assistant professor in the music and theatre department, uses the collaboration as a chance to show strengths of the overall department.

“We have one of the very best choral programs in the country and the opportunity to work together is an amazing experience,” Harrison said. “Combine that with one of the most amazing pieces of music ever created [Brahms’ Requiem] and it is a once in a lifetime experience for everyone involved.”

Choral students such as Green are ready to embrace the new sound that they will create.

“The drama that unfolds throughout the seven movements is driven by what the orchestra plays, and I’m super excited to sing along as the orchestra makes incredible music,” Green said. 

Seniors graduating may have a bittersweet feeling at this concert as well.

“I get to sing with my friends for the last time before I graduate in Stephens [Auditorium]. For the all men’s and women’s choirs, these big performances are the only times that we get to sing with each other,” McClelland said.

The concert is at 7:30 p.m. on April 25 at Stephens Auditorium. Admission is $5 for students and $10 for adults.