Emily Smucker, Contributing Writer
“They were joyful, focused, excellent,” said a woman who had just seen the Linn Benton Community College concert choir perform. “They looked like they were thoroughly enjoying themselves, but they were just as thoroughly focused on doing their best.”
This seems to be a fair assessment. While interviewing members of the LBCC concert choir, I noticed that they gushed over how much they love choir, and in the next breath, talked about how stretching it is. “I am very glad I got involved,” says Kayla, a choir member. “I’ve had an opportunity to stretch my range as a vocalist and to travel with the choir. I’ve even had a couple solos, which for me is a huge accomplishment.”
Even though the LBCC concert choir has been around for about forty years, it has only been in the last four years that it has blossomed into the amazing group it is today. This is due to the incredible talent of the choir director, James Redden.
One young man described the director as amazing, good at getting all the little details right, and enthusiastic. Another choir member told me that when she had seen the choir perform in the past, she was so taken aback by how well they did under Redden’s direction, that she knew she needed to be a part of it.
When Redden first came on the scene in 2008, the choir had only 23 members. Over time, that number has grown. There are 65 members this term, nearly three times as many than in 2008. In comparison to other community colleges, LBCC’s choir is huge–even bigger than some four-year university choirs. However, according to Redden, “the choir is definitely an appropriate size for what it should be, and the quality of their performances is a true testament to that.”
The choir sings music spanning virtually all genres and time periods. Jazz, spirituals, musical theater, you name it, the choir has sung it. Redden tries his hardest to offer his students a wide range of music in order to give a well-rounded musical education.
The choir takes various tours and trips, and give special performances at events such as the Oregon Collegiate Choral Festival. Redden has encouraged his students to build a following in their home communities. That encouragement, along with the fact that the choir is nothing short of excellent, has ensured that the LBCC concert choir performances are well attended and well enjoyed.