Ending on A High Note: The Final Concert

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Pacific Choral Director Scott Tuomi ends his career with a promise

On April 19, The Concert Choir, the acapella groups Vera Voce, Splendid Audacity, and Chamber showcased their final set of songs at the Taylor Meade Performing Arts Center. A special guest choir from Hawaii-Kamehameha High School performed and was conducted by Pacific alumni Kawika Boro.                                                                                 

   The concert was named after the song “A Promise of Living” from an opera made in the 1950s. “The song is about working together as a unit to create something beautiful. It talks about growing crops and harvesting, and to Scott Tuomi, he believes it means that we need community just as much as we need food to survive. We are here to lift each other up,” explains senior Ava Johnson, a Vera Voce leader and Chamber member. 

   Senior Eliza York, who shares parallel roles, emphasizes that “Scott constantly tries to educate himself to make sure he only spreads positivity. He tries to pick music that supports a message that is relevant to the times.” York took the stage in a duet with punchy mouth music to ornament the song “They Are Mother” dedicated to transgender students and parents. 

   The concert not only concluded the year of choir festivities, but Tuomi’s career at Pacific University as well. After 36 years of teaching at Pacific—and 20 of those years leading Chamber—Tuomi is set to retire at the end of the 2024 school year. Behind him, he leaves a group of students with enough passion flowing through the air in their lungs to circulate to future singers. 

   “Scott has us learn music with the bravery to make our mistakes loud and proud, because if we don’t, how will we know what to fix going forward? He encourages us to support those who are struggling so we can grow as one,” Ava shared. Senior Jey Sanderson stated, “Scott helped shape my confidence as a singer and pushed me to keep when I was ready to quit. He is so excited to support our endeavors outside of music and he constantly goes to people’s recitals on weekends.” York heartfully shared that, “He wants to make sure everyone knows how essential they are to the choir. He cares about every single one of us so deeply. He believes in me like nobody else does. Without him I wouldn’t be the musician I am today. I have him to thank for so many of my accomplishments.” 

   Freshman Dylan Heimbuch joined Chamber after Tuomi’s encouragement to do so. He explains, “He gives me support no matter what I have to deal with outside of Chamber. He has created a place where we can sing out our stresses.” Dylan has found so much abundance in the craft that he is writing a final paper for his English class on how music promotes change by surfacing emotion out of people. 

   Though Tuomi is moving on from his time here at Pacific, students remain optimistic about the future of the program. After a national search for a director to fill the position, two candidates have risen above them all. “It’s been exciting working with the new interviewees for the position. They are both committed to making the community even better,” Johnson continues, “I think this program has a great future ahead of it.” York enthusiastically adds, “Chamber feels like a family. We love each other. I hope Chamber maintains its powerful musicianship and its welcoming environment moving forward.” On the thought of his students, Tuomi remarked, “I want choral music to continue to thrive, as well as the close knit bond the students have. They take care of each other and celebrate each other. I’d like people to realize there’s a place for everybody here in choir.” 

   For a final goodbye, Tuomi plans to conduct the piece that brought him to Pacific 36 years ago–Beethoven’s Mass in C major. “I’d like to think of it coming full circle. Even when I was a little kid I was obsessed with Beethoven,” Tuomi beamed. The concert will feature 115 singers, including 60 alum, and the Pacific orchestra in one extravaganza held in Taylor Meade on Sunday, May 5th at 3pm. 

   During retirement, Tuomi plans to travel to Antarctica, meditate on nature through photography, learn to speak Finnish again (his grandparents mother tongue), work for animal shelters, support Oregon arts, and “do some good in the world,” as he puts it. “I think that’s what our job is.”


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