SUU Department of Music delights with Holiday Concert

The Southern Utah University Department of Music’s Holiday Concert served as both a piece of the 125 Years of SUU festivities and the perfect opportunity to get into the Christmas spirit on Dec. 2 in the Heritage Center Theater. 

The event included both lyrical and instrumental performances, including two world premieres.

The Wind Symphony began the concert with “Summon the Heroes” by John Williams and “Minor Alterations” by David Lovrien. They were then able to perform “Thunderbird,” the first world premiere of the evening. 

Zach Mercer, an SUU student and French horn player, proposed the idea for the commissioned work to the Southern Utah University Student Association, where it was quickly accepted and contracted with Donald Grantham, a world-renowned composer and professor at the University of Texas.  

Grantham aimed to “portray the strength, power and elegance of flight and all positive things about the thunderbird,” and those in attendance would agree he certainly succeeded.

The Luminosa Women’s Choir followed the Wind Symphony with “Sing Noel,” arranged by Allan Robert Petker, and “Sleigh Ride,” arranged by Hawley Ades. 

The OPUS Chamber Choir performed “Alleluia” by Randall Thompson and a humorous rendition of “Jingle Bells,” arranged by David Blackwell, that had audience members laughing to twists and turns of the familiar lyrics.

Following the OPUS Chamber Choir, the Concert Choir performed “Soft the Light,” a piece composed by Keith Bradshaw, associate dean and SUU music faculty. The three choirs collaborated on their final piece, “Betelehemu” by Wendall Whalum, which featured percussion and choral movement that gave it an extra special touch. 

The Choir and Strings followed with the second world premiere of the evening, “Masters in this Hall” by LeGrand Anderson, an SUU emeritus adjunct professor. The piece was composed around an Old English carol and was a favorite of many who attended the performance. 

The Symphony Orchestra performed “Celebration” by Steve Nelson and Marshall McDonald, a piece that tied the spirit of southern Utah and the West into the concert. 

Then, President Mindy Benson introduced the final piece of the evening: “Call of the Champions” by John Williams. This piece was performed at her inauguration this past September. 

“We truly are a university born of heroes,” President Benson said,” and we celebrate all of those heroes tonight and as we celebrate the 125th year.”

More information on the SUU music department and future performances can be found here, and a digital version of the program can be found here.

Article by: Audrey Gee
Photos by: Devan Call