Music Professor Bradley Ellingboe, UNM soloists and choral members got rave reviews on their recent performance of Rene Clausen's "Requiem," one of two requiems performed on Sunday, March 18, at Lincoln Center in New York City.

Jeffrey Williams wrote in the New York Concert Review that Clausen's requiem "is not dark and foreboding, but serene and hopeful." He added that Clausen wrote "a work of great power, with moments of conflict." Clausen's "Requiem," was commissioned to celebrate the 100th anniversary of choral singing at UNM.

Clausen's new "Requiem" has as its setting the traditional Roman Catholic Mass. It is divided into nine movements. In all, the piece is about an hour long. It is written for a large chorus and orchestra, as well as soprano, tenor and baritone soloists.

Of Ellingboe, Williams wrote, "Conductor Brad Ellingboe was an engaging, attentive, and fully involved conductor whose dedication any composer would be pleased to have. He bounded athletically from the wings onto the stage and jumped to the podium."

Williams called UNM Opera Theater Director Leslie Umphrey's performance "angelic" in the "Pie Jesu"; while tenor Sam Shepperson, a lecturer in the Music Department in the UNM College of Fine Arts, "contributed his vocal mastery with refinement."

UNM student and performer Chase McCall had his own review. "It wasn't but seconds until after Brad had put his hands down, that the sold out audience of 2,500+ most literally jumped to their feet and gave us an incredible standing ovation. The feeling was sublime. There was no feeling that was quite like it. People were moved by our singing. We managed to do what the professional choir before us could not do. The previous choir, which had just performed Mozart's Requiem for the very same audience, was unable to elicit the same response. They didn't even get a standing ovation. Among those in the audience were CEOs of fortune 500 companies, celebrities, and even the CEO of 20th Century Fox."

Clausen, conductor of the internationally-famous Concordia Choir of Moorhead, Minn., gave his own accolades to the performers:

"I wish to take this opportunity to express my profound thanks to all of you for your outstanding performance of my Requiem this past Sunday at Lincoln Center Avery Fisher Hall. I hope that you found it gratifying to walk out on to the stage of this beautiful hall to see a very full house, and then to soak in the audience response to your fine singing.

I am grateful for your commitment to learning a new work--which is always a risk--and excelling at that endeavor. You should all be very proud of what you have accomplished, as I am proud of having the University of New Mexico choral ensembles premiere the first two performances of this work. I realize that it was also a commitment of resource, time, and energy to mount a project such as this. My hope is that you found it worthwhile and memorable. Artistic expression through performance is still to me largely undefinable--and I hope it always remains so. Ultimately singers choose to sing because we feel cleansed, renewed, and uplifted by the experience of singing. We hope we bring this to our audiences as well.

A special thank you to Leslie and Sam, who rendered expressive and skillful solo work to this performance. I am privileged to have had such fine singers do the premiere performances of Requiem.

Finally a word of special thanks to my friend Brad Ellingboe, who began this commissioning process, ultimately resulting in the performance this past weekend. It was he who patiently taught you this composition, layering it into you one rehearsal, one week at a time. As a fellow choral director, I know intimately the process of teaching and learning, and I am forever grateful to him for this opportunity to compose this work for his fine choral program at the University of New Mexico."

Media Contact: Carolyn Gonzales (505) 277-5920; email: