For a year and a half, University of Georgia doctoral candidate Tim Rumsey spent countless hours working on an oratorio as part of his dissertation. The completed composition will come to life for the first time on April 24, when Southern’s Symphony Orchestra, combined choirs, and three soloists premiere his 40-minute piece titled “Neither Life nor Death.”
The oratorio is Rumsey’s original compilation of more than 35 biblical passages that focus on redemption. Inspired by the themes of sin, a Savior, and salvation, Rumsey said the idea for the project first came to him about 10 years ago.
“I wanted to write a piece that captured both the visible, external drama and the unseen, inward struggle associated with the fight against sin,” Rumsey said. “The result is music that can be, at times, uncomfortably honest, yet also comforting, challenging, and enjoyable.”
More than two years ago, Rumsey approached Laurie Minner and Gennevieve Brown-Kibble, professors in Southern’s School of Music, with the idea to perform the not-yet-composed oratorio. They agreed it would be a good way to support a young composer, and a great vehicle for their musical groups. Minner was also excited about the opportunity for music students and audience members to get a front row seat for the practicing and production of original music.
“We’ve performed original works before, but never anything of this magnitude,” Minner said. “All the pieces we know, love, and treasure today were once world premieres just like this.”
The concert will take place in the Collegedale Church of Seventh-day Adventists on April 24 at 7:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.