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On the Bright Side

February 27, 2014

SUNY Oneonta senior, professor sing on global stage

Jill Massey, a music major in her senior year at SUNY Oneonta, said a recent trip to London to perform in the prestigious Philharmonia Chorus was life-changing.

Massey, of Bloomville, and associate professor of music Timothy Newton arrived home on Monday after a week-long stay in London which included lots of site-seeing and intense rehearsals, they said Wednesday. Their hard work culminated in a grand Feb. 23 performance at the Royal Festival Hall. Newton and Massey were two of only five Americans in the 160-person choir, Newton said.

Founded in 1957, the Philharmonia Chorus has become one of Europe’s premier symphony choruses, according to its website. The chorus is made up of top singers from reputable performing organizations and conservatories in London and around the world.

Ten years ago, Newton was living in London, he said, and decided to audition for the esteemed choir. He made the cut, he said, and has since developed a relationship with the director that allows him to perform with the choir with minimal notice. In November, Newton said, the director invited him to perform in the chorus’ Feb. 23 performance of Johannes Brahms’ choral masterwork “Ein deutsche Requiem,” and asked him if he knew a student or two who could also perform.

Massey, 21, and two other students auditioned for the director via video, but Massey was the only one who made it. Newton said this was the first time a student from Oneonta has had the opportunity to perform on such a noteworthy international concert platform, and called Massey’s voice a “good, natural instrument.” Brahms’ piece is fairly difficult, with long musical phrases and two intricate fugues, Newton said, but Massey learned it quickly.

“She worked really, really hard for this,” Newton said. “She was able to pull it together quickly during the busy end of the semester, and now she can sing it in her sleep.”

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