When the combined choirs of Briercrest College and Seminary collaborate with the Regina symphony orchestra and chorus to perform Brahms Requiem on the evening of April 13, it will be more than an honour for director Scott Finch. It’s an answer to prayer.
“It was something that was on my prayer list regularly,” he said with a smile. “If you look back on my goals my first year here when I stepped foot on the campus, one of my goals was to get our choirs to be regularly involved with the Regina symphony orchestra.”
Finch says that performances, such as this one, which take place outside of Caronport help to display the calibre of musical talent Briercrest students have to a wider audience.
“We’re consistently calling people to come on to our campus,” Briercrest’s assistant professor of music and worship arts said explaining how the school often includes visiting performers in its own musical productions during the school year. “But just like you would an athletic team, if you only played home games – what good is that? I’m not disinterested in what we’re doing on our campus, but yet I’m more interested in what we can do off of our campus that shows what we’re capable of doing.”
Performing Brahms Requiem, which is entirely in German, will take a big commitment from the choir members.
“It’s about an hour and a half in length,” Finch said. “It’s a substantial work. It will be a steep climb for us. It’s a difficult work and it’s an internationally renowned work. Choirs and orchestras have been doing this since the late 1800s. Like any great work of art, you always have to give it the respect it’s due in terms of the preparation. You can’t come in and fly by the seat of your pants.”
For the Briercrest College Singers and the Resonant ensemble, singing in choir for the Brahms Requiem is required.
“This is their classical concert, so it’s in the syllabus,” Finch said. “The Caronport High School (CHS) choir – they have the option to participate. This is a great opportunity.”
Grade 9 student Rachel From is one of the high school students who decided to make the commitment to sing with the choir.
“(Mr. Finch) is constantly pushing us and stretching us beyond what we think we can do,” she said. “He puts his faith in us, which is a very empowering feeling. Because of his knowledge on the (Brahm’s Requiem), which he shares with us, we can sing with purpose. In lots of situations, probably most, singing an hour of German three times a week would be beyond boring. But Mr. Finch's passion and entertaining stories make rehearsal not only tolerable, but a lot fun.”
Finch has enjoyed collaborating with Hart Godden, the Regina symphony chorus director, as well as director for the Halcyon chamber choir. The two have worked together for several choral projects over the last three years.
“One of the things I’ve found wonderful about Hart is . . . we have a healthy respect for each other,” Finch said. “We’re gifted differently and that is actually a wonderful thing. Working together doesn’t mean we’re wedded for life, but we can work together and create opportunities for our students that we can’t on our own.”
Although performing a monumental work like Brahms Requiem is a large task, the Briercrest choir director is confident in what his students can achieve.
“This is a sizeable work that I personally haven’t conquered before, so I’m anxious and nervous about it,” he said. “We have excellence to present. We’re willing to do the work it takes to get there – the whole nine yards.”