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The City Journals

‘Lamb of God’ offers an uplifting musical experience for the season

Mar 05, 2019 02:19PM ● By Katherine Weinstein

Sherri Jensen conducts the Draper Philharmonic & Choral Society in a rehearsal. Photo from 2017 (Photo courtesy Sherri Jensen/Draper Philharmonic & Choral Society)

By Katherine Weinstein | katherine@mycityjournals.com

It all started with a trip to Day-Murray Music back in 2015. When musician and music teacher Sherri Jensen visited the store, the cashier was recommending a recording of a new sacred oratorio, “Lamb of God,” performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, to all of his customers. Jensen bought it on a whim and popped the disc into her car CD player. “By the time I got home I was so enthralled,” she said. “There is really nothing that moves the heart like this piece.” 

Fast-forward to March 2019 and Jensen is conducting “Lamb of God” once again with the orchestra and choir she founded, Draper Philharmonic & Choral Society. The free concert will be presented at the Waterford School in Sandy on March 22 and 23 in addition to a special performance at Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City on March 31.   

The composer, Rob Gardner, has referred to “Lamb of God” as a “musical experience.” Based entirely on the gospel, it portrays the final days of the life of Jesus Christ as told through the eyes of his disciples and loved ones. Gardner, a BYU graduate, wrote “Lamb of God” in 2010. He has also written stage musicals in addition to other sacred musical pieces such as “Joseph Smith the Prophet.”

Jensen describes “Lamb of God” as having “lush, rich, amazing melodies arranged in a way that appeals to our generation.” Her dream is to share the piece with the world. “I am really out to help people,” she said. “Music is a healing thing we can do.”

Soloist Serena Mackerall, who sings the part of Martha of Bethany, sister of Lazarus, echoed Jensen’s sentiments about “Lamb of God.” “I love it because I feel that no matter what the message is, music touches the soul. This music really touches the soul,” she said. “It allows you to reflect on Christ’s life but also your own life. It inspires us to become better people.”  

Mackerall, like many members of the Draper Philharmonic & Choral Society, is a resident of Draper. Jensen noted, “We have so many musicians (in Draper) hidden away!”

“I had this huge vision,” said Jensen of her idea to create Draper Philharmonic & Choral Society, which was established in January 2017. She initially sent out over 250 emails to everyone she knew looking for singers who wanted to join the choir. At first there were 14 people in the Choral Society and just seven in the Philharmonic. The group has grown to include 45 singers and nearly 50 musicians. Some members are from Riverton and Sandy, but most call Draper home.  

This was not the first time Jensen has formed a successful musical group. She holds a bachelor of music, piano pedagogy and performance degree from BYU and formed a professional performing group, the Sizzling Strings, with her children. In 2016, she began work to found the Vezzoso School of Music and the Vandewiele Conservatory of Fine Arts.  

Draper Philharmonic & Choral Society presents four concerts each year: “Lamb of God” at Easter time, a patriotic concert for July 4, a fall concert and a Christmas concert. Last October, the group presented an evening of Broadway show tunes. Next fall’s concert will feature classical music. “We’ve been working hard,” said Jensen. “It’s time to branch out and try different things.” 

Jensen and the members of Draper Philharmonic & Choral Society are enthusiastic about sharing “Lamb of God” with new audiences this year. Lucas Erasmus, who sings bass in the Choral Society, said via text, “I love the music and can think of nothing better than to celebrate Easter by telling this very moving spiritual story of Jesus through music. Sherri Jensen has this passionate desire to provide uplifting, wholesome entertainment and that’s what I enjoy and support wholeheartedly.”

Anyone who is interested in joining Draper Philharmonic & Choral Society is welcome to audition. More information is available at  HYPERLINK "http://www.draperphilharmonic.org" www.draperphilharmonic.org. The group also has a Facebook page.  

“Lamb of God” will be performed for the general public at the Waterford School Concert Hall, 9502 South 1700 East in Sandy, on March 22 and 23 at 7:30 p.m. and at Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City on March 31. There is also a performance for youth groups only at the Waterford School Concert Hall on March 21. Seating is first come, first served.