One hundred LMU voices, a cappella, filled Carnegie Hall with “My Heart Be Brave,” marking a return to the celebrated stage after 25 years. Comprised of Loyola Marymount University students, alumni, staff, and faculty, the LMU Choruses were invited to participate in the 39th annual season of concerts, a recognition of the excellence of the choral program in the LMU College of Communication and Fine Arts.
Led by T.J. Harper, LMU Choruses took the stage June 3, 2022, as part of a program of four companies to sing at Carnegie Hall, a national historic landmark that opened in 1891.
Harper became the chorus director in 2019, just before the pandemic hit. “We were devastated; if we’re not in person, we can’t teach balance or blend or acoustics,” Harper said. “How we hear is how we teach.” The return to in-person rehearsal was emotional, but Harper said he purposefully didn’t lecture – he let the students sing, let them do what they love to do.
After performing Marques L.A. Garrett’s “My Heart Be Brave,” the choruses were accompanied by a full orchestra for “I Thank You God for this Most Amazing Day,” by Dan Forrest, and the finale, Johannes Brahm’s “Nänie,” which, explained Harper, says that there is always reason to hope, even in trying times. To Harper, the text by Friedrich Schiller seemed appropriate to the times.
Gabriella Poma ’21, who earned her degree in vocal performance, eagerly awaited the trip to New York. “I fell in love with the choir because of the community, and that is exactly what I lost throughout the pandemic and in this first year of my life post-grad not singing in a choir,” said Poma, who is a senior administrative coordinator in Marketing, Communications, and External Relations. “The last time I participated in a choir concert was at Dr. Harper’s first-ever Gala Christmas Concert at LMU in December 2019.” Poma was also able to share the experience with her parents. “Something I have always loved about the program is that the community includes not just its singers, but its supporters,” she said, “the loved ones who attend the concerts and help fundraise for the tours and give us someone to share our art with. Choral music doesn’t happen in a vacuum; to co-opt the Jesuit mantra, it happens with and for others.”
The LMU Choruses first sang at Carnegie Hall in 1997, when alumni from throughout the Paul Salamunovich years joined 115 current singers for a grand performance of the Fauré “Requiem.” The choruses represent a tradition of artistic excellence with a rich history of more than 50 years. Over the decades, LMU singers have flourished under the direction of Salamunovich, Mary Breden, and now Harper. As stewards of the LMU global vision, the choral program has enlivened creative spirits through domestic and international performances. The choruses have traveled throughout California and other states and abroad to Italy, Austria, and France, to name just a few destinations. They have sung in world-renowned venues, including L’Église de la Madeleine in Paris and St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.