For the USD music department, the time is finally here.
The next few weeks will be crunch time before the department’s final concert featuring Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. Students from different entities of the music department, as well as some community volunteers, have been preparing for this concert since the beginning of the year.
In the fall of 2015 auditions for Chamber Choir, Concert Choir, the men’s and women’s choir, and the orchestra began. While these different entities perform throughout the year, they come together for a final concert at the end of the academic year.
More than 15o singers and 55 orchestra members will be performing in the event.
David Holdhusen, associate professor in the music department, said the idea for the selected piece came about through a series of events in the department.
“Every year we do a combined concert where the choirs come together with the orchestra, and it kind of came about because this year the choirs are combining with the Sioux City Symphony to do a concert on the Beethoven’s 9th symphony in April,” Holdhusen said. “And then Dr. Rognstad announced his retirement, and I knew that one of his goals was to always do all of the Beethoven’s symphonies before he retired.”
This year professor Richard Rognstad, who’s retiring after the academic year, will be conducting the performance.
“It’s a tradition in which we alternate years conducting when we combine and this year it is my turn,” he said.
Though Rognstad has yet to perform all of Beethoven’s symphonies, he said he’s excited to perform this piece because it’s the first time Beethoven added a choir to his work.
The piece itself, all four movements, is about an hour long. However, the concert this month will only consist of the fourth movement.
Assistant professor Timothy Campbell, who’s also collaborating in the concert, said the choirs began work practicing the song in February. He said the song will be sung in German, and therefore takes a lot of practice to learn.
“We will be doing the work in German as well, so part of what we’ll be teaching is some language pronunciation for the choirs,” Campbell said.
Holdhusen said this is a recognizable piece, even if people don’t know it by the name.
“This is a piece everybody knows, even if they might not know they know it,” he said. “But if you took any piano or played any instrument in your life or listen to any classical music, the Ode to Joy theme, is the theme that the choir sings during this movement. It’s a theme that’s pervasive in the pop culture.”
Students and the Vermillion community are encouraged to attend the event on April 22 at 7:30 p.m. in Aalfs Auditorium. The concert is free and open to the public.
First-year student Marcus Ireland, a member of the Concert Choir, said students should attend for the performance ambiance.
“It is a classical symphony, and everyone knows the tune,” he said. “It’s a fun experience and another form of stress relief to focus on.”