Rebekah Freed ’11 contributes to GRAMMY-winning performance
Rebekah Freed, a 2011 Concordia graduate and director of student development, can now add GRAMMY winner to her resumé.
Freed and her fellow Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus performers recently won a 2021 GRAMMY for Best Choral Performance for their 2019 performance of “The Passion of Yeshua,” composed by Richard Danielpour that was released in March 2020. Freed sang with the group from January 2016 through June 2019 while she lived in New York and served First Trinity Lutheran Church as director of high school and young adult ministries. In July 2019, she returned to Concordia to serve as director of student development.
“I was watching the GRAMMYs in my living room here in Seward when we found out that the recording won,” Freed said.
The recording features the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by JoAnn Falletta; the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus, prepared by Adam Luebke; and the UCLA Chamber Singers, prepared by James K. Bass.
At nearly two hours long, the piece leads listeners through the hours leading up to and including Jesus’ death. The narrative sections, often quoted from the gospels, Freed said, were sung in English and various Hebrew psalms were placed throughout the capture the elements of Jesus’ Jewish background that can sometimes be missed in the modern-day Christian reality.
“While it is unimaginably fun to have been part of a GRAMMY award-winning performance, it is even more exciting to know that the win comes from a piece so clearly pointing to Christ,” Freed said. “GRAMMY or not, performing this work was a powerful experience musically and spiritually.”
Recording the piece was a highlight of Freed’s musical life, she said—being able to have that experience was hundreds of musicians working together to create something of that magnitude—and to also have the composer present throughout the whole performance.
Having the ability to share the gospel was also a deeply meaningful experience, she said.
“Spiritually, there are not too many places in our world where God’s Word can be proclaimed in such a profoundly public way,” Freed said. “We had the chance over and over to sing of Jesus in a packed concert hall. Even still today, as I read certain sections of scripture, ‘The Passion of Yeshua’ melodies and instrumentation come back to my mind, almost like a soundtrack of the events leading up to Christ’s death.”
As part of the GRAMMY-winning group, Freed will receive a certificate for her participation, while the actual GRAMMY statue will be awarded to the chorus as a whole, as well as each of the conductors.