Mastersingers’ spring concert set for Bend

Director Clyde Thompson to pass baton

Mastersingers’ spring concert — It’s time once again to say goodbye to a retiring Clyde Thompson. The Central Oregon Mastersingers will perform their spring concert, titled “For the Love of Music,” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Church of the Nazarene, 1270 NE 27th St., in Bend. It will include a mix of new songs and old favorites from the last 12 years and, for Thompson, will mark the last time the Mastersingers’ founder and director will lead the group in a sole Mastersingers concert.

Area choral music singers and fans will recall going through this once before with the longtime Bend choir director and composer: Thompson’s 18-year teaching career, which also took him to West Virginia and Illinois, wrapped up at Central Oregon Community College in Bend, where he directed the Cascade Chorale for nine years before his 2004 retirement.

In 2005, Thompson tapped 39 of the best singers he knew for a one-time performance of one of his original compositions.

“After that first concert, a few of them came up to me and said, ‘We really enjoyed this. We should keep doing it,’” Thompson told GO! Thus Central Oregon Mastersingers was born. “The next few concerts were just sort of one concert at a time, not really knowing if we would keep doing it or not. It slowly took on a life of its own, and it’s been great.”

Over the 12 seasons, the choir has performed three concerts annually in addition to other incidental appearances. A total of 162 people have been part of the choir. Sixteen of the originals from 2005 are still singing with the group. Over the years, Thompson has shepherded the Mastersingers through performances of Handel’s “Messiah” and the release of two CDs — including a live recording of “We Have Spoken,” his cantata based on Native American texts — and joined forces with groups such as Cascade Chorale, OperaBend and Central Oregon Symphony.

Though Saturday’s concert marks his last leading a Mastersingers-only concert, audiences will have one more chance to see him lead the group, when it teams with the Sunriver Music Festival Orchestra for the fourth time to perform Mozart’s Requiem.

Beginning in fall 2017, Christian Clark, a founding member of the Bend Camerata vocal ensemble and director of the choir at Nativity Lutheran Church, will begin serving as the Mastersingers’ artistic director. Thompson will serve on the board of the Mastersingers, which is set to become an official nonprofit.

Though now is “a little” emotional for Thompson, who will turn 70 in June, he quickly added, “I think I’ve really got the timing right, because it just feels natural for me to be passing the group on now. I feel like I’m making a very good decision, and it’s very fulfilling to know that this group is going to keep going.”

Tickets to the Spring Concert are $17 and available at VisitBend or online at co-mastersingers.com .

— David Jasper, The Bulletin

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