The University of Utah Chamber Choir turned their yearly concert tour into a Hawaiian vacation after two years of competing in the European Grand Prix for Choral Singing. Choir member Brett Rasmussen said,
“We worked really hard to compete in the European competition and we kind of wanted to take an easy tour this year.”
Barlow Bradford was the conductor of the choir and explained how the group had been on the island of Kauai for the first five days, where they performed for an LDS congregation before coming to Oahu. Once on the island, the ensemble sang with the Kahuku High School choir, and then sang for BYU-Hawaii two days later on May 16.
Mia Pasi from Hauula saw the BYUH performance and knew this particular choir would be an atypical experience from the moment she walked through the door. She mentioned how she was caught off-guard by the lack of a physical program, and not having something to read “really made you pay attention when [Bradford] was explaining the songs.”
Before each piece was performed, Conductor Bradford vividly described the history and meaning behind them and offered insights on what to look for as the song was sung. When he introduced a song titled “Curse of the Iron,” which was based off an Estonian poem about war. He articulated how the choir would move around the stage, create sound effects such as air raid sirens with their voices, and even act out parts of the song with their own choreography.
Another distinction of the UUCC’s show was the overall mood of the night. Dan Bradshaw of the BYUH music department described the many mingling moods of the UUCC’s docket as “all over the place.” He said, “We started with some really luscious, romantic inspired music in the beginning; then went to the middle of the program with a war piece that was really angular and really challenged the audience. There was choreography in there that was really new to a lot of us. Then we finally finished with an African American spiritual that was really moving.”
The choir’s darker style of music stirred a vast variety of opinions among attendees. Bradshaw said he could appreciate the deep complexity of the arrangements, indicating that some had as many as 16 different vocal parts. He further noted, “The voices really blended into one sound. They got a lot of really difficult effects that are quite tricky to pull off as well as they did. I also heard the lowest notes I’ve ever heard sung from a choir tonight.”
Two students who wished to not be named said they had a difficult time enjoying most of the pieces due to them being, “not what [they are] used to.” One of them added, “I really didn’t understand what was going on for most of the show. The only one I could really get into was the black spiritual one at the end.”
Christopher Bradford of the UUCC shared his feelings after the show, “This is a fantastic choir with a very rare sound that I fell in love with this last year. It’s open, ringing, and blended. The types of colors that come out of this choir are unlike anything you’ve heard.”
Uploaded May 16, 2016.