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A Final Farewell

Started in 1989 by Larry Monson, the President’s Concert is a night “to give the students the opportunity to come together for the last time and enjoy singing and playing their favorite pieces,” according to Dr. Jay Gilbert.

For many senior members of Doane Choir and Symphonic Wind Ensemble (SWE), the President’s Concert is as much of a landmark as graduation itself. It is the culmination of everything we have worked toward for the year. You could think of it as our final exam – but add an incredible emotional connection to the music, each other, and our fearless leaders. It is less about our grade and more about how the experience molded us into the ensemble we are now.

For me, these two music groups are synonymous with Doane. I cannot imagine my life without them. The relationships I have formed and the memories we have created together will always remain with me. The two classrooms, across the hall from each other, have been my refuge and the places I call home. To have one last concert, the day before graduation, with the people who have become so dear to me is more special than I can describe.

Bri McGuffey, a senior member of both ensembles, speaks of her memories of past President’s Concerts, “I remember it being the concert that is symbolic of sending off the seniors. Now I can look back and remember the seniors who came before me and how exciting it is to move forward and have one last concert surrounded by people I have become so close with.”

It is impossible to speak of the President’s Concert without thinking of “Merrill Farewell” and “Precious Lord.” These pieces have become trademarks of SWE and Doane Choir. Dr. Jay Gilbert composed “Merrill Farewell” early in his time at Doane. It is an extraordinary arrangement of our school song that has been transformed into an incredibly emotional piece of music. SWE will play this piece to end their part of the concert. Similarly, Doane Choir will sing “Precious Lord” to end theirs. Singing such an emotional piece is a daunting task and nearly impossible to do with composure. In the finals days of rehearsal, Dr. Kurt Runestad is often heard saying “Underclassmen, you have to sing Precious Lord. You don’t get to cry. The seniors won’t be singing so you have to.”

On Saturday, May 18, at 7:00 p.m. emotions will be running high. First-year students will be wondering what the concert will be like. Sophomores and juniors may be thinking of next year and how it will be different. Seniors will be fondly remembering their time in SWE and Doane Choir and how it helped to mold them into who they are today. I have forever been changed by these groups and I am thankful every day that I was a part of something that I can truly say changed my life.

Listen to Doane Choir Sing Precious Lord:

Dr. Kurt Runestad, standing with senior Katie Brauer and Dr. Jay Gilbert