Portland Ensign Choir and Orchestra
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On March 16 and 17, the Portland Ensign Choir & Orchestra performed a service of sacred music titled “The Redeemer” by Robert Cundick. These sold-out performances took place at West Linn High School’s auditorium.
“The Redeemer” is an oratorio-like work in three parts: The Prophecy, the Sacrifice, and the Promise. Scored for choir, orchestra, and soloists, it was written by Brother Cundick, former Salt Lake Tabernacle organist for 27 years. The creation of “The Redeemer” grew out of a desire by Brigham Young University professor of music Ralph Woodward to produce a work of genuine stature that would have meaning for not only Latter-day Saints, but all Christians. He selected the text from all four of the standard works of The Church or Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He then approached Brother Cundick to compose the music for the work, which was completed over an intense 10-week period in late 1977.
“We’re honored that Dr. Cundick was able to attend and hear us perform his work. It was a privilege to have him here,” said music director David Thomas. Prior to both performances, Brother Cundick addressed the choir and orchestra off stage. “The Spirit was so strong when Brother Cundick spoke to us,” said Vynette Arnell, who sings second alto in the choir. “Brother Cundick’s words helped to remind us that the purpose of this work is to testify that Christ is the Redeemer of the World.”
“The Portland Ensign Choir & Orchestra really did a fantastic job in presenting this work. I am touched by their spirit and testimonies. They are an amazing group with so much talent. Portland is lucky to have a quality organization like them. I am very thankful I was able to attend,” Brother Cundick said following the last performance.
Brother Cundick was accompanied to Portland by his son Robb Cundick. who previously sang second tenor in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for 20 years and has also performed his father’s work with the Tabernacle Choir. “It was incredible to hear dad’s work performed so masterfully. I loved every minute of it. It’s one thing to Portland Ensign Choir & Orchestra perform “The Redeemer,” but a totally different experience to take it all in and hear it from the audience’s perspective.” said Robb Cundick.
While in Portland, Brother Cundick also taught a masters organ class at the Tualatin Oregon Stake Center. Many local organists attended this workshop for a rare opportunity to be educated by the former Tabernacle organist.
The Portland Ensign Choir & Orchestra consists of 130 auditioned choir members and is accompanied by 45 orchestra members. Both members of the choir and orchestra volunteer their time and talents to participate in this organization. Even though the choir and orchestra is not affiliated with the Church and operates as a non-profit organization, many members of the choir and orchestra are Latter-day Saints. All members of the choir and orchestra are auditioned and are required to sign a member agreement that they will uphold the standards of the church, participate in all dress rehearsals and concerts, not miss any rehearsals without prior authorization, and support their home ward and stake choirs.
The Portland Ensign Choir and Orchestra is now preparing for their next concert series in June titled “Once Upon a Dream” featuring Grammy nominated concert violinist Jenny Oaks Baker.
To see and hear selected arrangements from the choir’s performance of “The Redeemer” please visit PECO’s Youtube channel at www.Youtube.com/PortlandEnsign.