A Triumph Despite Everything: LBCC Choir Wins International Awards; Ocampo Wins Outstanding Teacher Award

Linn-Benton Community College’s chamber choir triumphs in World Choir Festival, receiving a Gold Standing overall and the Outstanding Teacher Award for Raymund Ocampo

JUNE 30, 2021

The Linn-Benton Community College chamber choir recently scored a Gold Standing for their entries in the World Choir Festival, an international choir competition hosted in Hong Kong. LBCC’s choir was one of 200 participating choirs in this international event, with only a dozen or so total choirs being part of LBCC’s division. 

On May 15, the choir submitted video recordings of their performances of “Abendlich schon rauscht der Wald” by Fanny Hensel and “The New Colossus” by Saunder Choi. According to Performing Arts Chair and Choir Conductor Raymund Ocampo, the video submission had to be like a live concert. “There was no editing, marking up or touching up of any kind allowed,” said Ocampo. “The entire thing had to be one take.”

Typically, the choir would travel and compete in-person for an event like this, but as with everything else during the pandemic, the choir needed to adapt to a new format for competing. 

“We were probably the only choir of those 200 that submitted that were actually masked and 12 feet apart, our choir members couldn’t even hear each other” Ocampo remarked. “Other performances were unmasked and participants were within two feet of one another so they could hear one another. We were at what we felt was a severe disadvantage.” 

Despite these adjustments and some technical difficulties with lighting during the video, Ocampo and the choir were pleased— considering what they had to go up against.

“We were also busy with other projects like the Spring Concert, so we felt like we had done the best we could, but had no idea how we would score in this competition.”

Typically, Ocampo and the choir space out their competitions; one year doing a tour more centered on performing, and one year competing. “Last year’s tour [in Vietnam] was less about the strength of the musicianship we hold and more about the strength of our character,” Ocampo reflected. “We sang for an orphanage and a children’s hospital and stayed for the day doing outreach events for them.” 

In addition to the choir taking home the gold for their stellar performance, Ocampo was also awarded the Outstanding Teacher Award in recognition of his efforts as a choir conductor/teacher for preparing his students to compete despite the impacts of COVID-19. Ocampo was thrilled to receive this recognition, noting that he even got to meet renowned Swedish composer (and personal idol) Bengt Ollén to receive the award.

“To receive this award from colleagues and people you admire feels very validating,” Ocampo said. “This year’s choir did one of the hardest things they could possibly do: Despite everything they sang well and they sang for each other.” 

In a recent survey of students conducted by LBCC, 75% of participants noted that they felt isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ocampo notes that choir practices and events like tours and competitions have been crucial for bringing students together. “It was more important that we could be together and less so about the music.”

While next year is still uncertain, Ocampo hopes to go on tour some place closer to home next year, and then ideally back overseas for another competition in 2023.

Read about the Music Department at LBCC. Access Raymund Ocampo’s profile. Information about the Music Education Program will be online in August. 

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