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University Orchestra, three choral groups perform joint concert

A term of preparation culminates in student performers paying tribute to one of Mozart’s most famous works

Xiaoxia Yin

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Washington and Lee’s choral program, University Orchestra and a student pianist performed an Oratorio and Concerto Concert featuring Mozart’s Requiem on Tuesday in Wilson Concert Hall.

Requiem is one of Mozart’s most well-known works. Mozart died during the composition process, leaving an uncompleted work that has been finished by his students and various editors over the years.

The first half of the concert featured Conley Hurst, ‘17, the student winner of the Music Department’s 2016 Concerto Competition. He performed the music of Brahms with the orchestra.

“Performing as a soloist in a concerto is almost like the pinnacle of being a classical pianist,” Hurst said. “It was a once in a lifetime experience. And it has to be one of the highlights of my time at W&L.”

Hurst said he is “quite happy” with his performance. He also praised the University Orchestra and Music Professor Chris Dobbins.

“The piano part is quite difficult, but I was able to get through it with only a few glaring mistakes,” Hurst said. “The orchestra did a fantastic job and I can’t say enough about Professor Dobbins’ guidance and professionalism through the whole process.”

The second half of the performance featured the University Singers, Cantatrici and Men’s Glee Club. The University Orchestra and a guest soloist also performed, conducted by Dobbins.

“Conley Hurst played brilliantly on the Brahms,” said Dobbins. “And I thought the Requiem was really well down. The choir was sensitive and responsive. The orchestra played their part well.”

Dobbins said the audience was responsive.

“I heard some really nice comments,” said Dobbins. “Like, ‘How cool that we can have this in Lexington, that students can work together to pull this off because it’s not an easy thing to do.’ Overall, it’s really positive.”

Music Department Head Gregory Parker performed as the bass soloist during the concert. He believes the concert is a good experience for student singers, musicians and the campus community because it exposes them to great work. Parker said the concert took a lot of preparation, but was worth the time invested.

“It was enjoyable as a soloist to sing with those people,” Parker said. “It seems the audiences and community have the appetite to continue to do that. And our goal is trying to do something like that every two to three years.”

Choir Director Shane Lynch decided the theme of the performance. He will also determine the themes of future concerts.

Lynch said he was excited to work with students over the semester on this masterpiece.

“The Mozart Requiem is one of the great seminal works of choral music,” Lynch said. “It’s really exciting, especially when the students were actually working on this powerful piece the first time.”

During the concert, Lynch joined the choir, singing the bass part with students.

Camilla Higgins, ‘18, is a member of University Singers. Higgins said the piece the University Singers performed was challenging, but meaningful to work on.

“The Requiem was a great combination of the orchestra program and choir,” Higgins said. “It really helped unify us and show us as united friends of music at Washington and Lee.”

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University Orchestra, three choral groups perform joint concert