Joey Whitaker, reporter, @JoejoeW22
Utah County became home to one more nationally recognized collegiate choir this year, inspiring visions of future growth in the still budding Utah Valley University choral program.
This October marks the beginning of an exciting year for the Chamber Choir, UVU’s top audition choir, as they will be the featured guest collegiate choir for the 2013 Utah All-State Choral Festival.
In addition to the state festival, the choir has been invited to perform at the regional level, in the American Choral Directors Association’s Western Division Conference, as well as the national level, at the National Collegiate Choral Organization Conference.
“These invitations are proof that the choirs at UVU have become national and regional leaders of musical excellence,” Reed Criddle, director of choral activities and assistant professor of music at UVU, said
All three are extremely prestigious events and the entire music department is looking forward with anticipation.
“I think we are surprising a lot of people,” said Kyle Christensen, a fourth year Chamber Choir member. “UVU kind of gets looked at like a little brother compared to BYU.”
The choral festival is the pinnacle for high school choirs, with student’s auditioning all over the state. Talented collegiate choirs from around Utah are invited to perform as guests at the festival. The festival hosted the BYU University Singers as their guest choir in 2012, a fact that makes UVU’s performance at the event this year meaningful.
There are a few students who choose to come to UVU from BYU for various reasons, Christensen being one of them. To see the choral program at UVU rise to the same ideal as BYU’s well-established program generates a sense of pride that is sometimes lacking in the Wolverines.
“Three years ago, we did not sound like a college choir that should be noticed,” said Christensen. “All that has changed now. I’m not embarrassed to be at UVU.”
Much of this change has come about under the direction of Criddle. Just finishing up his doctorate from the University of Michigan, Criddle arrived in 2010 surprising everyone with his youth, passion, and skill.
“You work hard in class. Dr. Criddle expects the very best out of everyone, especially himself,” said Christensen. “He’s one of the best directors I’ve ever had.”
Criddle expressed great pride in his students for achieving a new national status and gives much of the credit for the growth of the program to them.
“I am thrilled to watch the choirs grow in size and in musical excellence,” Criddle said. “And I am delighted that the UVU choral students are receiving national recognition for their hard work, excellence, and dedication.”
The Chamber Choir will travel to Charleston, S.C. a few weeks after the All-State Festival to perform at the NCCO’s national event, one of nine choirs chosen nationwide.
In February, the choir will travel to Santa Barbara, Calif. to sing at the ACDA’s Western Division Conference, consisting of choirs chosen from Utah, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and Arizona.
“It is the first time in the history of the university that a UVU choir has been invited to perform at a conference on the regional level,” Criddle said. “Perhaps even more impressive: it is the first time a UVU music ensemble has been selected to perform at a national conference.”
This was the first year that the Chamber Choir was eligible to apply to perform at these events, as the choir had to be led by the same conductor for three consecutive years. In addition, recordings have to be sent to the organizations from each of the three years, showing the choir’s standard under that director.
In moving forward through the next school year and beyond, Dr. Criddle has a clear idea of the direction the choirs at UVU will take. With the addition of the Man Choir to supplement the existing Women’s Choir, as well as a new community UVU Children’s Chorus, the total choirs at the university come to a total of six.
“With the introduction of several new choral ensembles this past three years, I am eager for UVU students from all majors across campus to participate,” said Criddle. “There is great joy, teamwork, friendship, and personal growth for those who join our ranks.”