SUU choirs perform “From Classical to Country”

Faculty from Southern Utah University’s Department of Music and the SUU choirs performed their concert “From Classical to Country” in the Thorley Recital Hall on March 28. 

The event featured several SUU choirs, including the SUU Concert Choir, Luminosa, and OPUS, as well as introduced SUU’s new acapella group, Vocal Storm. Multiple instrumentalists and soloists were highlighted, along with an arrangement by SUU faculty member Keith Bradshaw and two compositions by freshman vocalist major and choir member Watts Mason. 

“I really wanted to get my name out there as a composer, and Dr. Briggs really did a great job with helping me make those pieces a reality with the choir,” Mason said after the performance of his compositions “Tas Kungs ir mans Gans” and “Koralis.” But Mason wasn’t the only one who made his debut that night.

Earlier that evening, the audience was privileged to hear the premiere of Vocal Storm. The newly established club, composed of seven members, is presided over by Annie Hancock and Noah Reynolds.They performed medleys of “Jackson 5” and “Ghost” by Keith Evans.

“We’re still in the process of becoming part of SUU, but I had many students express an interest in an acapella group,” said Andrew Briggs, director of choral activities and club advisor for Vocal Storm. “They do all of the stuff on their own. I don’t teach them the music or give them the parts.”

Andrew Briggs was in charge of directing both the Concert Choir and OPUS, the latter of which sang Keith Bradshaw’s arrangement of “Eine Kleine Nacht Music” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It was a big hit for everyone involved due to some hilarious choir-director-audience interaction. 

OPUS also performed several other songs, including Alexander Danshaw’s arrangement of Charles Ives’ “Circus Band,” where two of their choir members grabbed a sousaphone and cymbals to accompany the intricate piano work of Charity Whittaker and Tracy Bradshaw. To conclude the set, “Five Hebrew Love Songs” by Eric Whitacre, was sung and featured soloist Maddie Hansen and percussionist Joshua Castillo-Romera.

Directed by Andrew Briggs and accompanied by Tracy Bradshaw on the piano along with a string section comprised of SUU students, the Concert Choir set the tone for the whole evening when they sang songs from Mozart’s “Misericordias Domini, K. 222.” to “There is a Balm in Gilead,” a traditional piece arranged by Don Smith, with Olatz Onamuno and Merry Draper as soloists. Their set ended with “All of Us” from “Considering Matthew Shepard” by Craig Hella Johnson, featuring Savannah Billeter, Jessica Warner and Elizaphine Reimann as soloists.

Luminosa took the theme of “Classical to Country” to heart. Under the direction of Kirsten Briggs and accompanied by Whittaker on the piano, the treble choir sang “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Ruth Artman with lyrics by Robert Frost, which featured Tyler Lordson on the Glockenspiel. Then they highlighted their vocal talents in several other songs before concluding their set with a rousing rendition of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” arranged by Mark Brymer, featuring Tiana Edwards, Paige Kennedy and Jilliam Hamilton.

“This concert was really fun because March is Women’s History Month, and I picked several songs by women composers,” said Kirsten Briggs. “It made for a really wide range of songs for this whole concert.”

The production can be found on YouTube courtesy of SUULive, or the evening’s program can be accessed here.

Article by: Kaylee Condie
Photos courtesy of SUULive1