A Symphonic Experience

Spokane Symphony collaborates with EWU and Gonzaga choirs for Verdi’s Requiem


Erin Rebar for The Easterner

Verdi’s Requiem played at The Fox Theater in Spokane May 6 and 7

By Erin Rebar, A&E and Features Editor

For two nights, the rich, liquid tones of “Verdi’s Requiem” oscillated through the halls of the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox in Spokane, Washington.

Performed by the Spokane Symphony Orchestra and Chorale in conjunction with the EWU Symphonic Choir and the Gonzaga University Chamber Chorus, the concert took place over the weekend of May 6 and 7.

“The experience [was] so special and extraordinary,” said Svetlana Bilous, a sophomore member of the EWU Symphonic Choir who is currently studying liberal arts with an emphasis in music education. “Working alongside professionals this past week has been an experience I will never forget. It’s amazing when so many voices with different voice qualities and different levels of maturity come together and sing such beautiful classics and during it all can sound so unified.”

The concert started with a short piece entitled “Serenade to Music.” The composition, set to words from the Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare, was composed in 1938 by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Tristan Thompson, an EWU senior member of the EWU Symphonic Choir who is majoring in music education, said he believes that “Serenade to Music” was a perfect complement for the concert’s main piece “Verdi’s Requiem.”

“In comparison to the Verdi, ‘Serenade to Music’ to me was like wine before a meal,” said Thompson. “It’s playful and entertaining, and then all of a sudden the Verdi begins and it’s intense and emotional.”

The concert was directed by Eckart Preu, a world-renowned director from Germany.

“Eckart Preu is an impressively talented conductor,” said Bilous. “He was very clear and precise with what he wanted from the vocalists and the instrumentalists. When he conducts he reflects the music from the score and delivers that in his gestures and facial expressions. I have learned so much from him just by observing him in rehearsals and in concert.”

The chance to work with such a highly acclaimed director provided a powerful experience for the EWU and Gonzaga choirs, students said.

“The way he conducts and expresses the music is so fluid and natural, almost as if the music just flows through him,” said Thompson. “I aspire to be a conductor and continue on in school pursuing a degree in conducting, so having the opportunity to work with him and learn from him is definitely a dream come true. And he’s always so funny! But when it comes down to getting things done, he’s very serious and wastes no time.”