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Students solo with orchestra

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Jerrilyn Foster thinks that harmonically, the music of Gabriel Faure’s Requiem is well suited to the text.

Faure brings out the musical expression of the text in a way only he can do, said Foster, who has been preparing the 60-voice choir in the upcoming performance of the work with the New Mexico Philharmonic.

“The text of a requiem is very serious and fraught with fear and the unknown,” she said. “At the same time it is contrasted with knowing that there will be eternal rest at the end. And the constant contrast between the fear and knowing there will be eternal rest is remarkable.”

The philharmonic, the choir and two vocal soloists will present Faure’s requiem as part of the orchestra’s Neighborhood Concert Series. The concert is March 16 at Central United Methodist Church.

PEREZ: Soprano soloist with NM Philharmonic

PEREZ: Soprano soloist with NM Philharmonic

The soloists in the work – soprano Jennifer Perez and baritone Alfredo Beltran – are both voice performance majors at the University of New Mexico.


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“I would say my solo is short and sweet. It’s in the Pie Jesu (movement). It’s a breath of fresh air,” said Perez, a graduate student who attended Bernalillo High School. “A lot of requiems’ solos are either virtuosic throughout the entire piece or they have really high notes, which makes them difficult. This (solo) is very calm and subtle, and not very operatic.”

She thinks of it as having a quiet strength.

Beltran said he has two short solos. One is in the “Offertory,” the second movement, and is somber but sweet. The other is in the opening of the “Libera me,” which is the title of the sixth movement.

“The (choir) is saying to God to liberate me from the evil that will occur. I open the movement then the choir comes in, then I’m back in for a small portion near the end,” he said.

Given his level of singing ability, Beltran said, neither solo is terribly challenging.

This is the first time he is singing in public with a professional orchestra.

Foster thinks the philharmonic’s Neighborhood Concert Series is doing more than reaching out to venues around Albuquerque.

The series gives choral singers the chance to sing interesting repertoire and perform with the philharmonic, she said. “Just the opportunity to sing with a fine orchestra is building this participation (among singers),” said Foster, director of Traditional Music Ministries at Central United Methodist Church.

Those singers performing the Faure include members of Central United’s Chancel Choir as well as singers from Mountainside Methodist Church, Las Placitas Presbyterian Church, Covenant Methodist Church and Heights Cumberland Presbyterian Church, she said.