SUU Choirs Honor Billy Joel at their 6th Annual Pop Concert

Southern Utah University’s Department of Music held their sixth annual choir pop concert: “And So It Goes: Billy Joel and Friends.”

SUU’s Concert, Opus and Luminosa Treble choirs convened at Cedar City’s Heritage Theater Wed. Feb. 17 for an ensemble concert themed on Billy Joel’s hits and a selection of student-favorite pop songs.

The concert was live streamed, and the students performed in masks to reduce risk of COVID-19 spread. Despite the unusual circumstances, the choirs maintained a high-energy performance throughout its 50-minute duration.

The use of the streaming venue also allowed the performance to take advantage of technology to create a more cinematic and visual experience.

SUU freshman Ian Oliver was the featured pianist for the concert, and had the Billy Joel-themed spotlight on him throughout the performance.

“With all the unique attachments people have to this music, the energy you feel while performing it is different…” Oliver said. “You truly feel the buzz of hundreds of different spirits projecting at you what the music means to them.”

The livestream faded from black to a closeup of Oliver’s hands playing a selection of Billy Joel measures.

The concert broke from its Billy Joel theme for a few pop songs members of the choirs selected: “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me,” “Uptown Girl,” “You Belong with Me” by Taylor Swift and yacht-rock anthem “River of Dreams,” for which all the performers donned shades so that they might more rockingly sing.

Luminosa choir director Ashley Stackhouse shared that “You Belong With Me” was her favorite song to direct because she is a big Taylor Swift fan.

“I’m a full-on ‘Swiftie,’” Stackhouse said. “So getting to teach this to my students has been really fun.”

SUU students Sara Larsen and Lawrence Mbaki served as masters of ceremony for the event, and, woven between the songs, would provide collected quotes from the students performing.

Oliver reflected that pop concerts offer a new energy to performers who are used to classical pieces.

“Performing popular music brings a different dynamic to the table,” he said. “A lot of people are already familiar with the songs, and have had a lifetime of memories, experiences, and other things they correlate with certain pieces.”

Story by Janzen Jorgensen
Photo courtesy of College of Visual and Performing Arts