Student Chosen to Sing With London Chorus
SUNY Oneonta senior Jill Massey will sing Johannes Brahms’ choral masterwork “Ein deutsches Requiem” as a chorister with the Philharmonia Chorus on Sunday, Feb. 23, at the Royal Festival Hall in London.
Massey, a music major from Bloomville, N.Y., and a 2010 graduate of South Kortright Central School, submitted a video audition in December after being encouraged by Associate Professor of Music Timothy Newton, who will also be singing in the performance.
The audition included three sections from the Brahms piece, sung in German, and another song in Italian. Massey said the director was impressed with her singing, but said her Italian needed work. So, she practiced like crazy over the winter break and submitted a second audition tape. After classes resumed in January, she found out that she’d made it— and has been practicing every day since.
Massey and Newton left Sunday for a week in London, where they will rehearse for the performance and take in some culture. “I really want to see everything,” said Massey, who has traveled as far as Arizona but had never been out of the country before.
Newton said this is the first time a SUNY Oneonta student has received the opportunity to perform on such a noteworthy international concert platform. Founded in 1957, the Philharmonia Chorus has become one of Europe’s premier symphony choruses. The chorus, made up of top London amateur singers and professionals from performing organizations and conservatories, will be accompanied by the Philharmonia Orchestra during the 70- to 80-minute piece.
Although she admits to being a bit nervous at the thought of performing in such talented company, Massey said she’s excited to be a part of something so big. “Dr. Newton keeps telling me about how awesome it’s going to be with 150 people singing something they know so well, because they have it memorized, and then there will be this great orchestra playing underneath, like a wave.”
Massey plays flute, ukulele and piano, and said she’d like to learn to play the violin. While at SUNY Oneonta, she has performed in several operas, including “The Fairy Queen” last month, and she sings soprano in the Concert Choir. For the Requiem, she’ll be singing alto, and she said she’s looking forward to changing things up. “I like alto better, honestly, because you have to think to find the notes,” she said. “It’s not just the melody.”
Massey’s travel expenses were funded through the college’s Student Travel for Excellence Program, made possible through charitable gifts from SUNY Oneonta alumni as part of the college’s 125th Anniversary Campaign. This fund enables students to take advantage of travel opportunities across disciplines, including academic conferences and competitions, field research and performing arts events.