Music in May at Pacific University to Celebrate 70 Years as Premier Event for Music Education

mim_2018One of the longest running high school music festivals in the country will celebrate its 70th anniversary May 24-26 at Pacific University.

Music in May, an offering of Pacific's Music Department, annually attracts more than 400 talented student musicians from throughout Oregon, Washington and Idaho to partake in intense yet fun workshops, lessons and rehearsals designed to strengthen their vocal and instrumental performances.

Distinguished members of the Pacific University music faculty, as well as 24 Pacific undergraduate student-mentors, provide both individualized and group music lessons and rehearsals that challenge, but don't overwhelm the attendees, said festival director and Pacific Director of Bands Dr. Michael Burch-Pesses.

“Music in May is designed to be a positive experience for all involved,” Burch-Pesses said. “For the participants, it is an opportunity for them to develop professionalism in their performances and then go back to their schools with new knowledge and higher standards.”

For many of the attendees, Music in May provides the opportunity to experience college life for the first time, complete with residence hall living, shared meals in the commons and a multitude of on-campus social activities consisting of games, movies and more.

Music in May was started in 1948 by former Pacific University music education professor Richard Greenfield to assist high school string instrumentalists. The festival expanded to include band and choral elements the following year and is now the longest running event of its kind in the Pacific Northwest, and perhaps, the nation.

More than 750 high school band, choir, and orchestra students apply to participate, only 400 of whom are selected based on recommendations from high school ensemble directors. Since the festival began seven decades ago, approximately 34,000 high school students have benefited from participating in Music in May.

"We are very proud that Music in May has provided an opportunity to instill in thousands of young people the timeless principles of teamwork, proper etiquette and the importance of ongoing self-improvement," Burch-Pesses said.

For the first time in the festival's illustrious history, the grand finale concert featuring the three ensembles will be conducted entirely by Pacific University music faculty to commemorate the 70th jubilee year.

Burch-Pesses, along with Director of Choral Activities Dr. Scott Tuomi and Director of Orchestral Activities Dr. Dijana Ihas have selected challenging literature for their respective ensembles to perform, beginning at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 26 in the Stoller Center Gymnasium.

The orchestra will perform Gopak from Modst Mussorgsky's Fair at Sorochyntsi, Nimrod from Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations, and Anturo Marquez' Danzon #2.

Choral selections include Sisi Ni Moja by Jacob Narverud, Ian David Coleman's The Trumpet Sounds Within-A-My Soul, Northern Lights by Oja Gjeilo, Paul Rudoi's Yonder Come Day, Franz Schubert's Lebenslust, and Michael Barrett-Rolf Schmitt's Indodana.

The band will perform Urban Dances by Eric Morales, Rallph Ford's Romanza, Vesuvius by Frank Tichell, and Americans We by Henry Fillmore (arranged by Frederick Fennell). As always, the ensembles will unite to conclude both the concert and festival with America the Beautiful.  Admission is $8 for adults or $6 for students and senior citizens. Tickets may be purchased in advance by calling 503-352-2198.

Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon is one of the West’s first chartered higher education institutions. With an enrollment of more than 3,800 students, Pacific provides an excellent academic experience linking theory to practice in education. The Pacific University Music Department seeks to educate students in the diverse fields of music through a combination of academic and performance experiences designed to allow the participants to experience the breadth and depth of the art form. Most recently, the Music Department added a bachelor of music therapy program, melding the liberal arts and health professions aspects of Pacific’s expertise. Participation in performance opportunities is open to all students on campus regardless of their major or minor, in both individual and group (ensemble) instruction. Exploration of literature from a tremendous variety of historical periods, cultures, languages and stylistic periods is available through ensemble participation.

May. 15, 2018