Pomona College Choir and Orchestra Belt out Brahms

Pomona College’s music department never disappoints with its weekly concerts: they are the perfect way to spend an evening for music lovers on campus. Last weekend, admitted students and their families flooded the campus and were delighted by Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem, Op. 45—over an hour of musical mastery. 

The Pomona College Orchestra can be traced back to the founding year of the college, 1887. The music department also houses the Choral Program, which branches into Choir and Glee Club. Each have established excellent reputations over years of quality concerts and performances both on and off campus. 

To conclude the 2015-16 school year, the music department saluted Bridges Hall of Music’s 100th birthday as Pomona's choir and orchestra jointly presented Brahms' Requiem on Friday, Apr. 15, evening and Sunday, Apr. 17, afternoon. Little Bridges was filled almost to capacity for both concerts. A short reception followed Sunday’s performance in the Carolyn Lyon Garden.

Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem consists of seven movements and runs around 75 minutes in total. It is unusual in a requiem for both the orchestra and choir to be equally responsible for bringing up dramatic color in the music—the synthesis of instruments and voices intensifies the degree of expression.

“They did it last spring with Mozart’s Mass in C minor, but somehow this is a bigger work,” Alex Woods PO '18 said. “I think the size—how much work to put something this big together—it is two of music department’s biggest ensembles on stage at the same time. It is just a huge endeavor.”

This grand undertaking was a collaboration of many individuals. Over 100 musicians performed together on stage (among them students from six of the seven Claremont Colleges), with Pomona College administration and faculty musicians, Claremont community members, along with two soloists: Hayden Eberhart PO ’07, soprano, and Steve Pence, baritone.

“I was amazed by how they pulled off such a big piece because even just to stay up on stage for 75-80 minutes, sing, and play is such a big deal. It is impressive to me to still be able to be so musical and so expressive even towards the very end,” Woods said.

Each group is a complete ensemble that usually practices and performs in concerts independently, so a lot of work went into coordinating the two.

“I think the collaboration between choir and orchestra is always incredible to watch—you have two great conductors who work individually with their groups and they come together and put on this masterpiece,” Rhian Moore PO ’18 said. 

Brahms' Requiem also represented the conclusion of a college music career for the seniors in choir and orchestra.

“I think this requiem is a great piece; it is a great way to close the season, also a good way to send off graduating seniors from both groups,” said Moore. 

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