Beethoven's Mass In C Fitting Coda To Tuomi's Pacific Career

Scott Tuomi Conducts A Recent Chamber Singers RehearsalWhen Scott Tuomi steps to the podium to direct Pacific University’s performance of Beethoven’s Mass in C on Sunday, May 5, he will be staring at the fruits of a nearly four-decade conducting and teaching career.

Not only will the stage include Pacific’s Chamber Singers, Concert Choir and Pacific Philharmonic Orchestra, but it will also include nearly 60 alumni, friends and colleagues gathering to celebrate and perform for Tuomi, Distinguished University Professor of Music and director of choral activities, who will retire this May after a 36-year career.

“These are people who I have stayed involved with. I have gone to their weddings, we continue to exchange holiday greetings, we’ve stayed interested in each other,” said Tuomi. “These are people I love that I know are good musicians and many have continued to sing with other groups outside of Pacific.”

The final concert in the university’s 2023-2024 music performance season, the performance of Beethoven’s Mass in C will take place on Sunday, May 5, at 3 p.m. in the Taylor-Meade Performing Arts Center on Pacific’s Forest Grove Campus. Tickets can be purchased in advance online.

The piece is a symbolic nod to the concert that first brought Tuomi to Pacific as a professional musician, being hired as a tenor soloist for a performance of the mass by Pacific’s choir and orchestra in 1986. Held in the University Center on Pacific’s Forest Grove Campus, it was the start of a four-decade love affair with Pacific and its students.

“It’s the only concert I’ve ever been in where I breathed in to sing and could smell the deep fat fryer,” Tuomi joked, “but I enjoyed it and I enjoyed how things felt on campus. That was my first post-high school experience at Pacific, and it was really enjoyable.”

Not long after that performance, Music Professor Bruce McGinnis invited Tuomi to join the department as a voice instructor. Two years later, he was offered a full-time faculty contract.

He never left, helping grow the Music Department into one of the largest undergraduate departments in the university’s College of Arts & Sciences, offering degrees in music and music performance along with a Bachelor of Music Therapy and a Bachelor of Music Education.

“When I started at Pacific, we had four music majors. And now we are the largest small-college music department in the state,” Tuomi said. “Good young musicians have come here and flourished, and their directors have spread the word. They know that they will have a good experience if they come here. But it takes a lifetime to build that reputation.”

The results of building that reputation will be apparent on stage with the presence of many former students, including several who have built careers as musicians and music teachers. The ensemble of more than 100 singers also includes Pacific faculty and friends from the Portland music community.

The soloists include three of Tuomi’s voice faculty colleagues: soprano Anne McKee Reed, messo-soprano Grace Weaver and bass Konstantin Kvach. Guest tenor soloist Brian Tierney was a former private voice student of Tuomi’s who has performed with several Portland-area ensembles. Several other Pacific music faculty members will serve as principal instruments in the orchestra.

The inclusion of fellow faculty in principal roles is important to Tuomi, who believes in students being able to work alongside faculty and perform with them as fellow musicians. “To have the faculty be soloists and have some of our faculty be the principal winds, brass, percussion, and strings gives students the chance to see what they do professionally,” he said. “It’s been really rewarding and gives the students a chance to appreciate each other’s gifts.”

While Tuomi plans to continue to perform, conduct and teach in retirement, he and wife, Leslie, are looking forward to fulfilling some additional life goals. They want to complete a bucket list quest of visiting all seven continents (Antarctica and South America remain). Scott wants to spend more time pursuing photography, exploring his Finnish heritage, and working with local shelters to find pets their forever homes.

Once the final notes are sung and his career reaches its final fermata, Tuomi hopes that his Pacific legacy will be one of inspiring excellence in his students through the gifts of music.

“I hope I can walk away saying that I left it better than I found it,” Tuomi said, “and that it is set up for just incredible success as the program continues to grow. That’s what I am really grateful for.”

Tuesday, April 30, 2024