52 Minutes of Latin, 500 High Schoolers, One Sold-Out Holland Center

Skutt Catholic Chamber Choir completes 3 months of Mozart with Omaha Symphony's Choral Collaborative.

Lily Yates, Quintessence Copy Editor

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Who knew Mozart could be so exhilarating – or so much hard work?

Skutt Catholic singers in the tremendous 500-person ensemble on the Holland Center stage on Sunday learned just that, participating in the opportunity of a lifetime: performing Mozart’s final Requiem mass with the Omaha Symphony.

“What I didn’t realize before the concert was what a big deal it was to be a part of it,” says senior Chamber Choir member and soprano, Johnna Lowe. “I was really excited to be part of such a huge concert.” And huge it was, the result of a process spanning over three months of rigorous preparation both in and outside of choir class since the start of school in August.

With a whopping 13 Latin pieces, plus Randyll Thompson’s “Alleluia” thrown in as bonus, the set list for this performance was a daunting task to say the least. “Honestly, it [the music] looked so complicated to me… I thought it was piano accompaniment for Mrs. Wagner, but then saw there were enough lines for each voice part and sort of just went ‘oh, dear,'” Lowe confessed.

However, the learning process, aided greatly by the ever-diligent Mr. Storm, may have been just as rewarding as the performance itself in the end. “I learned about Mozart’s character, this being the last piece he composed before he died. He talked about the agony of death and God’s saving grace,” Sam Delperdang, bass and sophomore, remembers. “And I learned as well that music delves deeper than the surface of the words and notes. It can leave people with a feeling of something extraordinary,” he continued.

As well as being mentally challenging to learn and perfect, the Requiem challenged singers physically. This required them to stand (with a healthy singing posture, mind you) holding iPads upright, fully engaged and in heavy robes under the bright stage lights with no water in sight. But although students may have walked offstage on Sunday with aching shoulders, feet, and throats, the rush brought on by not one but two raucous standing ovations lingered in their hearts.

“Mr. Storm helped us to be probably one of the most prepared choirs there. I was expecting this great, overpowering sound and that’s exactly what we got,” enthused Johnna Lowe. And the high schoolers were not alone onstage, making the most of a priceless opportunity to work with professional instrumentalists, conductor Ernest Richardson, vocal coaches, and four professional vocalists brought in to take on the Requiem’s solo components.

Of the impression he thinks Sunday’s concert left on its audience, Sam Delperdang says, “Even if they don’t remember all those words or notes, they will still be impacted. And we definitely did just that.”

Lily Yates - Quintessence Editor-in-Chief

Lily became a member of The Flightline in August of 2015. She is a senior this year and enjoys an array of activities including choir, theatre and slam poetry. She is also on staff as a library aide at the Omaha Public Library. You can email her at [email protected]