Spring Choral Showcase: an interfaith celebration

Reading Time: 2 minutes Utah Valley University’s choirs were as contagiously energetic as ever for their Spring Choral Showcase.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

UVU’s premier choirs, joined by the Copper Hills High School madrigals, performed at the St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church this past Tuesday, Feb. 7. The performance showcased the talents of the UVU Emerald Singers, UVU Deep Green, UVU Chamber Choir and the aforementioned visiting high school choir group.

The St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church is a marvelous venue — one which UVU’s choral program has used on numerous occasions, the most recent performance being the tenth. High, arching ceilings adorned with brilliant chandeliers create acoustics that amplify choral voices beautifully.

Attendees who hadn’t caught previous performances at the venue would be excused for thinking that much of the program would be gospel music akin to Catholic hymns. On the contrary, each choir performed several songs of various cultural and religious backgrounds. Truly, the evening was one of interfaith celebration.

The first number of the night, sung by the UVU Emerald Singers, was a bright and swelling arrangement of “Alleluia,” a fitting opening song considering the many depictions of Christ in paintings surrounding the chapel.

The evening proceeded with the UVU Deep Green’s rendition of “Barechu,” a Hebrew prayer-song arranged by conductor Reed Criddle. This was the world premiere of the arrangement, and it wouldn’t be the only world premiere of the evening. One of the best songs of the concert was “‘Aua e te Maliu Ese/Pass Me Not,” a mashup of Samoan and Christian hymns arranged by undergraduate Esera Mose. The song was simultaneously energetic and reverent, and the two solos by baritone Ian Redd and tenor Oliver Wasden were exceptional.

Perhaps the most riveting portion of the concert occurred when the UVU Chamber Choir emerged from behind the seated crowd to perform the meditative, chant-filled “Mighty Flame Dharani,” a song composed by Criddle during his time living in Taiwanese Buddhist monasteries. Aided by the metronomic plinking of a wooden fish — a type of instrument associated with Buddhist recitations and mantras — the choir hummed, sang and chanted alongside a compelling monologue-esque recitation from Braden Johnson.

UVU Chamber Choir’s final number, “Anima Christi,” featured Esera Mose’s soulful vocal solo backed by gospel jazz accompaniment including bass clarinet, piano, drums and bass. At the song’s conclusion, the other three choirs joined the Chamber Choir near the front of the chapel to perform one final number: “Life of Song.” The song was a fitting finish to the evening; it was a spirited and celebratory homage to the power of music and the connective tissue of song that brings together people from all cultures.