As choral singers know, the stretch of weeks between Halloween and Thanksgiving finds choirs buckling down to rehearse music for fast-approaching Christmas concerts usually in too few hours, at the busiest time of the year. Rehearsing holiday music is what Jonathan Talberg, director of the Bob Cole Conservatory Chamber Choir at California State University, Long Beach, had intended to do yesterday, but last Friday's terrorist attacks in Paris, which claimed the life of CSULB student Nohemi Gonzalez, compelled him to change course:
"Midway through November, as a responsible collegiate chamber choir, we should have been rehearsing holiday music today, but it just didn't feel right," Talberg posted on his SoundCloud page, alongside the performance of a work unfamiliar to the singers until that day. "After singing for a vigil of CSULB student Nohemi Gonzales … I decided to take an afternoon and simply learn a new piece … one that might counteract some of the darkness I felt after watching the memorial and knowing how hard it would be for Nohemi's family to go on. This piece was in my head as I fell asleep last night; I knew we had to record it today. I hope it brings you comfort."
The piece is Let My Love Be Heard by Jake Runestad, the young Minneapolis-based composer increasingly well-known to choral-loving audiences in Minnesota and around the country. Talberg had known of Runestad's music, having commissioned him to compose a piece, And So I Go On, in memory of his fiancée, who died suddenly in 2014.
You can read a story about the vigil for Nohemi Gonzalez, covered by our sister station KPCC Southern California Public Radio.