UCO performs first concert of the year

University Choir and Orchestra held their first concert of the season in Wilden Hall on Sunday and featured a variety of genres from up-tempo music to renaissance pieces.

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UCO performed in Wilden over the weekend to a packed audience.
Photo by Kayla Landrum

Wilden was packed and proved to be too small for the audience. Due to a lack of lighting, UCO was forced to skip a piece of music they intended to perform.

“When I first walked in, I was a little overwhelmed because there was hardly any seating left,” sophomore communication studies major Amanda Mayfield said. “It was the first time I had ever been to a UCO event and I didn’t know what to expect. It had up and downs. It was awkward when the lighting went because they had to skip a song, but overall the music was incredible, especially Amazing Grace.”

According to conductor John Sutton, they used Wilden because the stage in Munson Chapel is too small to fit UCO. Munson Chapel seats about 200 people but can only fit 30 students on the stage.

“[Wilden] has great acoustic sound for a capella,” Sutton said. “It is a really cool place because it is like an old concert hall and with the people around the balcony, it is cool to look up and see all the people surrounding you. We have rented facilities off site, but we like our first concert to be on campus so it is accessible to students.”

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Musicians in the orchestra perform instrumental music to accompany the choir, seen in the background.
Photo by Kayla Landrum

The gospel choir ministers and worships through music and started the year off with a three-day choir camp and six hours of practice per week to prepare for this first concert. According to Sutton, they are the only choir on campus that completely memorizes music for their first performance.

“It is a huge challenge and it is very intense to memorize an [hour’s worth] of music in three weeks,” Sutton said. “Not just memorize, but perform it and minister it. Turn words into truth and notes into music. To memorize at that level is a huge commitment.”

Some pieces featured foreign languages, which came as a struggle to sophomore commercial music major and second soprano Ciera Bardowell.

“It was hard to memorize some of the songs in different languages because this was my first year in UCO and I had never heard a lot of the music before,” Bardowell said. “The nice thing is everyone helps each other because we are all in the same boat working towards the same goal.”

Music selections are made throughout the school year with consideration to suggestions made by students, parents, the conductor, music publishers and others. UCO features a capella music, five soloists and instrumental music.

UCO routinely travels to local churches and puts on an annual event called “Celebrate Christmas” for the Azusa community.

“Our theme is ‘Miracles are Yet to Come,’ so I am excited and interested for what those miracles might be for the people we perform to,” Sutton said. “We think of our concerts as services. I am excited for the opportunity to declare with these students prayers about our needs and songs of worship and prayer.”

UCO’s next performance is this Sunday, Oct. 6 at 6 p.m. at Calvary Chapel in La Habra, Calif.