Raymund Ocampo believes in the power of music to change the world.
As department chair of performing arts and director of choral studies for Linn-Benton Community College, Ocampo wields that power in many ways: through teaching, both with the college classes and through a music production program at the Boys & Girls Club of Albany; through inspiring expression, particularly in working with youths at Oak Creek Correctional Facility and through a new regional high school honor choir starting this spring; and through sharing cultures, with travel and performances scheduled as far away as Vietnam.
This Friday, Ocampo and his vocal groups are bringing their power to the Russell Tripp Theater with their winter choral concert, "Transformation."
The concert will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 15, on the Albany campus at 6500 Pacific Blvd. SW, Albany.
The concert will feature the college's concert and chamber choirs, with a cappella groups The Sirens and Blue Light Special.
Tickets are $10 for general admission, $7 for seniors and free for college students and children under 18. They may be purchased in advance online at www.linnbenton.edu/tickets.
Performances will center on social issues such as gun violence, civil rights and the need for unity. It's a need Ocampo has seen building for several years.
"It was easy to see that as a culture, we were distancing ourselves from one another and ready to assign blame," he said. "We were, and still are, calling one another enemies, when in reality we really just have opposing views."
Heavy, sure, he acknowledged — but also hopeful, even for audiences sick of the evening news.
"I think that hearing and seeing the future of our country — students — ask for a call to unity amongst the din will be different," Ocampo said. "Our students have completely different political views and disagree with one another, but in the end, they know that the only way to be successful is to work together."
Evidence of that work begins with the Concert Choir, which is performing songs focused on civil rights movements around the world. The theme of those pieces, Ocampa said, is that such rights are not a gift provided on the whim of a moment, but are the result of "a constant crusade for equity in any form."
The Chamber Choir will sing music centered on the topic of gun violence. "American Breakfast" by Saunder Choi begins the theme, describing the increasingly familiar pattern of emotions the morning after the report of a shooting. Singers then close Saunder's work with his final movement, "Another Mourning," which lays out the nation's final stages of grief.
Music sings of the future as well as the past, however, so the choir moves next to a work by Dale Trumbore, "Breathe in Hope." The choir members close with Jocelyn Hagen's piece, "Hands," physically and symbolically joining hands to signify their solidarity.
"Though our theologies and philosophies may be different, that unity will be the only way we move forward," Ocampo said.
Indeed, he added, it's the most important them of the entire evening: "We are not promoting one political view over another. We are promoting all of us coming together to solve our problems."
Ocampo is all about bringing people into the same room to create something beautiful together. That's been his mission since joining the faculty at LBCC in 2015.
"When I go out to schools to speak about our program, I tell students that we don't necessarily seek the best music students. Those students will typically go to a four-year institution directly out of high school," he said. "We also don't seek out students that just want an excellent musical experience. Our area is filled with great colleges and universities that will offer students that facet of their life.
"The students we seek want to change the world through music. They want to go out into their community and make a difference beyond their degree and career," he said. "It's these types of students that are coming to LBCC, and they are the strength of our program."