On Friday, the USC Concert Choir will perform at Music of Our Time, a concert featuring music from renowned composers around the globe. The concert is anything but a regular choral music event. Unlike typical choral concerts, the concert choir will perform music by living composers from Los Angeles to Venezuela to Australia.
Each composer will bring a unique voice to the concert, incorporating voice techniques that make this concert stand out. The concert choir will sing in multiple languages in addition to English, including Korean, Latin, Spanish, French and Maranao.
Lucy McKnight, a freshman majoring in music composition and also a member of the concert choir, provided insight into the choir’s dedication and hard work toward the concert these past couple of weeks.
“Preparation for the concert has been intense, as we are singing so many difficult pieces, all of them completely from memory,” McKnight said.
The concert choir worked with composers to comprehensively understand the pieces they are performing so they can be executed as the composer would like. They have been lucky to work with a particular L.A.-based Filipino composer, Nilo Acala, who came in to help the choir understand the story and emotion behind his piece.
The concert also features the works from composers that strike close to home. The concert choir will be singing three French pieces composed by Morten Lauridsen, a professor of composition.
Although the choral pieces are composed in French, language is not a barrier for the concert choir.
“In order to prepare [Lauridsen’s] music, we first memorized it without the French words, so we could master the music,” McKnight said. “Then, with the help of a student in the choir who knows French, we added the words back in and memorized it all again.”
After working with the music for many weeks, the concert choir met with Lauridsen, who helped them better understand the musicality and phrasing of his pieces. According to McKnight, Lauridsen even rehearsed along with the choir while singing and playing the piano.
Frank Ticheli, a professor of music composition, worked with the concert choir on his piece “There Will Be Rest.” Ticheli came to a concert choir rehearsal and conducted the choir, showing them how he wanted the phrasing of each line executed, as well as the dynamics throughout the piece.
Rehearsing with the composer of the piece allowed for the choir to perform each piece according to the composer’s intent and feelings when composing it. The concert choir was able to better understand and connect with the music on a personal level, moving beyond the notes on the page to perform with nuance and feeling.
Music of Our Time will take place on Friday at the Newman Recital Hall. The concert is free admission to all USC students with RSVP required. The concert will run from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.