Standing beside a piano, at the head of the 150-member Soli Deo Gloria Choir, director Brad Peterson exhorts his singers, "Let's reassure them that it's going to be OK -- from the top!"
And that's the sentiment that sticks.
Since the fall of 1973, the Soli Deo Gloria Choir has anchored itself in the community with an unwavering focus upon musically conveying peace, hope and love. This nondenominational, all-volunteer choir will celebrate 30 years of musical excellence on Saturday, May 15, when members of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic join them for a performance of Mozart's Requiem and Schubert's Mass in G at Sunrise Methodist Church.
"The pieces which we're performing are quite distinct musically, but thematically they really go hand in hand," said Terry Harris, president of the Soli Deo Gloria board of directors and a choir member. "The Schubert mass is a strong affirmation of life, which we have decided to dedicate to the soldiers returning home, and their families, who have suffered just as much."
Mozart's Requiem, a piece that the composer left only partially finished at the time of his own death, represents a somber reflection on mortality and sacrifice.
"These are undoubtedly emotionally complex pieces," said Peterson, who has directed the choir since 2001, "but this group does a great job with 'text-painting.' These singers have developed a very personal feeling for the pieces, which ends up guiding the way I direct them."
The performance will feature four local soloists: soprano Katherine Adams, alto Katherine Lauson, tenor Dan Fosha and bass Jim Sena.
The group's close ties to the community, its spiritually edifying message and its musically ambitious repertoire have always distinguished Soli Deo, and that's precisely what choir founder, Judy Westcott, had in mind when she formed the group to perform at an Annual Lutheran Reformation Service in 1973.
"There already was the chorale, and we didn't want to compete with it, so we followed a completely different path" says Westcott.
Throughout the years, Soli Deo's unique vision has established them as a local treasure and earned the group wide national exposure ever since they were invited to perform at Ronald Reagan's inaugural festivities in 1980. Last year, the group performed Mozart's Requiem at New York's Carnegie Hall under the direction of John Rutter.
"They [the choir] worked really hard on the requiem, and they wanted to perform it again," said Peterson. "Luckily, our 30th anniversary was right around the corner, and that seemed like the perfect time."
"We're a community choir," said Harris, "so if the community thrives, we thrive. Right now, there are a lot of families separated from one another because of the war, and there's a lot of fear. We just want to do our part to help the community celebrate life and mourn the death of loved ones."
-- Joe Kuzma
Soli Deo Gloria Choir and member of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic
Mozart Requiem and Schubert Mass in G
Sunrise United Methodist Church, 2655 Briargate Blvd.
Saturday, May 15, 7:30 p.m.
Free and open to the public