Performing in the concert hall at the Noorda Center of Performing Arts was the UVU Chamber Choir which showcased a wide range of talented and inspirational voices. Joining them from Boise, Idaho was the Centennial High School Camerata who drove all the way here through a snowstorm in order to bless all in attendance with their contribution.
Led by UVU’s Director of Choral Activities, Dr. Reed Criddle, the Chamber Choir has benefited greatly from the passion with which Criddle pursues his craft. Criddle is internationally known for his original compositions which have been performed by such choirs as Musikhochschüle Lübeck Kammerchor (Germany) and Beijing Queer Chorus (China). He has also directed ensembles and led workshops throughout the world.
The first part of the performance was taken up by songs from different places around the world. They began with “Ambe,” a song with roots in the Ojibway Nation. Matt Watson, assistant conductor, took the helm for this piece.
Then, with Criddle leading, they performed one of his original compositions called “Mighty Flame Dharani” which Criddle explained he developed from Buddist chants he learned in a monastery. The movement of the choir’s voices throughout the piece made it an experience that can only be truly appreciated in a live performance such as this.
Centennial High School Camerata took to the stage with Annette Mackey, the Centennial High Choir Director, conducting. They performed a series of songs from different genres from an African tribal-sounding piece to a Latin hymn and finally a jazz song. It allowed them to display a surprising level of versatility for singers at such a young age.
Once they were done, the UVU Chamber Choir returned to the stage to explore songs that centered around the themes of love and passion. Accompanied by pianist John Sargeant, they began with two pieces that worked with the piano to create a conversation, subtly weaving their sounds together.
From there, Criddle led the choir in the world premiere of “Invitation to Love,” an original composition developed from a poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar. Dunbar’s parents had been enslaved in Kentucky before the Civil War and Criddle worked to invoke a sound that would describe the antebellum South to accompany Dunbar’s words.
The concert ended with a combined piece from the two choirs called “Soon and Very Soon,” a song by seven-time Grammy winner and gospel singer Andraé Crouch. It was conducted by Mackey with Criddle joining the choir in the stands. It was a rousing finale to a night of powerful and evocative music.