The Times, They Are A-Changin’

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The Pacific choirs are preparing for their first concert, while one of their conductors is preparing for his final year with the group. 

   Pacific University’s Concert Choir, Chamber, and Vera Voce, an acapella group, will be debuting for the first choral concert of the year. The event takes place on October 27 at 5:30 p.m. at the Taylor-Meade Performing Arts Center and is free for Pacific students.

   Judy Rose is the instructor for Pacific’s Concert Choir, which currently has roughly 25 members. With 20 years background as a music instructor in Portland, she also leads a rock band, chamber choir, an early morning choir, and a songwriting class outside of Pacific. 

   The multi-talented and multi-faceted songwriter and music instructor, Rose has built her relationship with Pacific one song at a time. She first found her way to Pacific through “Jubilant Day,” a song she wrote in 2018 after she experienced a traumatic micro-aggression in Portland. She was able to take the hateful experience and turn it into a triumphant spiritual song with a message of surfacing the love and power she knows burns within herself, and everyone around her. The song begins with the line, “Each day begins and ends with me.” 

   In turn, the song was performed by Portland-area school Grant High—and also was performed by several other high school choirs. In 2019, Pacific University Chamber Choir sang the song; the first college-level group to sing her work—and then, a year later, Scott Tuomi invited Rose to conduct her piece for his students, and she was given the opportunity to perform a concert to honor Black History Month in 2020. But the pandemic interfered.

   On October, Rose’s “Jubilant Day” will be part of an uplifting and varied collection of songs. “I am loving the energy and zaniness of the group this year,” says Rose. “This is an inviting place, and when we include people, we welcome everyone as their whole self.” 

   Along with Rose’s song, Tuomi, who is wrapping up her 36 year career at Pacific, including leading the chamber singers for 20 years, is including a Chamber Choir song called, “Can We Send the Darkness to Light,” which Tuomi says is about being kind to each other in this world that has darkness in it. 

   Tuomi’s group will also be performing a song honoring a composer born 400 years ago, Scottish mouth music, and a surprise spooky Halloween piece. Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’” will also be performed, which Scott says carries a message about his generation giving over this world to the younger generations. 

   “My hope is to have as much fun as possible,” says Tuomi, who will retire in May 2024. “I want to do stuff that I love to do and share it with the students. I am having the time of my life with the group this year. They’re terrific students. I’m dedicated to having fun and making the best music we can.” 

   Rose echoes those sentiments, and expressed that she wants this year to be as fun and glorious as possible for Tuomi. “He helped me rethink my career,” stated Rose. “There were times when I was unsure about my impact as a teacher, but Scott was a good friend and a mentor to me, telling me I could get through it. He saved me. Every music educator needs a champion like that.” She added, “Scott will leave a legacy of raising people. I can’t think of any other person who’s been stalwart in amplifying students and faculty of color. I credit him for giving me this opportunity at Pacific.” — Libby Findling


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