UVU Chamber Choir gives a voice to the divine and the ordinary in new concert

In their fall semester concert, the UVU Chamber Choir will sing a number of songs that give voices to those who might not otherwise have it.

The choir, which is comprised of a selective group of all majors who have shown excellence in performing choral music, has the unique ability to discuss their inspiration and motivation when singing the songs they are assigned.

Songs about the devotion that man can feel for a higher power are included in this section, including an arrangement by Dr. Reed Criddle, the director of the choir, called A Buddhist’s Blessing. His personal relationship to the philosophy of Buddhism encouraged him to broaden the very small offering of choral music from the Buddhist religion.

“It’s not as though Buddhists don’t sing,” he joked.

After spending five months on sabbatical on a Fulbright Scholarship exploring Buddhist monasteries in Taiwan, where he interviewed monks and nuns about their chanting and singing traditions, he came back with a renewed sense of purpose in broadening the types of songs he could teach students at UVU.

“One of my goals when I moved to Utah to teach was to expand the minds of students to people and cultures beyond Utah county and even Utah,” Criddle said. “It’s been exciting to bring repertoire and ideas in, and also to take them on tour and expose ourselves to new ways of life.”

And, he says, it has hardly been a challenge.

“I find students at UVU to be more willing to consider different perspectives than the average person in Utah county,” Criddle said. “Maybe it's because they're young, maybe they choose UVU because its an inclusive place, but I find that that’s true.”

He cites a moment in class where a student who does not believe in God told them that she still relates to the sacred pieces and the connection to the divine. She sings the piece as a connection to herself and her own empowerment.

“Regardless of their background or even their potential, they check their egos at the door and come together to encounter these different philosophical ideas or vocal color concepts so that their own music making can be broader,” Criddle said. “And isn’t that kind of what UVU is all about?”

The theme of the show, “Sacred and Profane,” divides the numbers into things divine and those that are not necessarily opposite, but are certainly more mundane. Regular life, in all of its messiness, is celebrated and given space to be heard.

“We’re painting the glory of god around this nativity scene,” Criddle said. “It’s a beautiful, lush halo of music interspersed with phrases from ‘Lo How A Rose,’ a German carol. It splits into 14 parts, and the choir is only 32 people.”

Half of the musical selections will celebrate the Christmas season, exploring respect and reverence for divinity, and spirituality on a higher plane. The other half explores mental illness and the beautiful chaos of the natural world. Every number is unique and requires the full heart and soul of the choir.

“A student in class the other day mentioned that she saw someone on the train who seemed to be mentally ill, and how she wanted to keep her distance because it seemed safer,” Criddle said. “We are performing from the perspective of that mind.”

He said to expect comfortable, sweeping choir music and the opposite - things that will challenge an audience and change their perspective of what a choir “should” sound like.

Sacred and Profane

Orem Public Library

Friday, November 30, 2018, 7:30 pm

Get your tickets here