Choirs premiere original work at St. Francis church

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Each of the music department’s choirs performed their latest pieces at the St. Francis of Assisi Church on Thursday, Feb. 7. The Women’s, Men’s and Chamber Choirs all performed, along with the American Fork High School Choir and UVU musicians and dancers.

These choirs performed several classic pieces with standout soloists. Additionally, the Chamber Choir offered up two very unique pieces within the showcase.

First of these performances was “Mighty Flame Dharani” written by Reed Criddle, the director of choral activities. Criddle wrote this piece in January 2018 while staying at a Buddhist monastery in Taiwan. This performance was the world premiere. 

“Dharani is the Sanskrit word for a spoken recitation whose syllables and sounds hold psychological and spiritual power in their utterance,” Criddle said. “Its purpose is to elevate or free the mind. ‘Mighty Flame Dharai’ can be recited in unexpected situations to resolve conflicts due to negative karmic relationships from the past. This mantra is also intended to dispel impending disasters and comfort those with nightmares.”

The Chamber Choir all sang this recitation with their eyes closed. The chant went on to the increasing tempo played by Criddle on a wooden fish, a percussive instrument used frequently in Buddhist mantras.

The other poignant and unique piece at the showcase was one called “clap/bang.” This was this work’s “West Coast premiere.” Though short, this performance displayed a lot of elements and a great emotional range, like including two dancers within the performance and the use of clapping as aural and visual elements.

“With this concise three-movement piece, we seek to capture the thrill of romantic vulnerability and the painful solitude of abuse,” the song description in the program reads. “In collaboration with the UVU Dance Department, the UVU Chamber Choir dedicates this selection to those with the fortitude to rise above.”

This chapel provided the perfect setting for these choirs to display their work. Audience members noticed how good the choirs sounded. Fernando Mercado, an audience member, and Sarah Sandstrom, a freshman in pre-nursing who was also in attendance, both said they greatly enjoyed the showcase. Mercado commented specifically of the breadth of the performances. Some made you want to get up and dance while others were more reflective, he said.

Derek Regehr, a junior experiencing his first semester on the Men’s choir, noted how well everything turned out in such a short timeframe.

“I was pretty rushed because I was new this semester,” Regehr said. “It was so fast-paced, I was impressed with how well everything came together. It turned out way better than I expected seeing how the concert was so soon.”

UVU’s choirs perform regularly throughout each semester. Their most notable performance coming up is during the “Week of Dreams” (March 25-30), a series of events to commemorate the ribbon cutting of the Noorda Center for the Arts and the inauguration of President Tuminez.