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The City Journals

Oquirrh Hills students perform at the state capitol

Oct 31, 2016 08:45AM ● By Tori La Rue

Oquirrh Hills Middle School choir, orchestra and band students pose for a picture at the Utah State Capitol where they performed on Oct. 3 as part of the Capitol Centennial Celebration. (Jordan School District)

By Tori La Rue | [email protected]

Riverton, Utah - Oquirrh Hills Middle School’s band, choir and orchestra students performed songs and pieces in a new venue on Oct. 3—the Utah State Capitol Rotunda. 

Their performance was part of the weeklong Capitol Centennial Celebration, which included musical performances from school and cultural groups, an open house, tours, viewing of historic artifacts, a gala and a day of activities for children. 

“We felt that the different communities of Utah would enjoy both performing and watching performances during the Capitol celebration,” said Shelisa Baldwin, communications coordinator for the capitol. “The Capitol is the ‘People’s House,’ and this was another opportunity for the people to get involved in an activity in their house.”

Each of the groups performed about three pieces or songs for people who were taking tours of the capitol. About 60 students from Oquirrh Hills participated. 

“I was really grateful they made this possible for us,” said Eric Perkins, Oquirrh Hills Middle School band and orchestra teacher. “It was a lot of fun and a way for us to connect with the community using music.” 

Marcus Turnbull, the concertmaster for Oquirrh Hills’ symphonic orchestra, said he’s never played in a place so “unique.” He said the only place he could begin to compare the capitol was the Old Dome Meeting Hall located on the grounds of the Riverton City Park. 

“It was so echoey,” he said. “I usually only like to play in places that are more peaceful, like my church, so this was a little high-profile for me, but I at least had the rest of the orchestra to back me up.” 

Not only was freshman Kathryn Black playing in a new space at the Oct. 3 performance, she was also playing a new instrument. 

The symphonic orchestra began the year without a bassist, and Perkins asked other string players if they’d like to step up to the task. Kathryn said she volunteered because she’d always wanted to try bass although she felt intimidated to try a new instrument after playing the violin for five years. 

Kathryn said she was “terrified” when she found out their first performance on bass would be at the state capitol. 

“I was the only bass in the whole class, and you can hear the bass prominently, especially with all of the echoing,” she said. “I feel like it was a good experience, though.” 

Kathryn said she felt happy with her performance in the orchestra’s first two songs but said the last song—an Irish jig—was a little harder because it required fast movement. She said she made a couple mistakes but was reassured when two strangers stopped her after the performance and congratulated her.

“They asked if we were high schoolers, too, and that felt pretty good,” Kathryn said. 

Eve Barlow, a cellist, said her favorite part about performing at the capitol was conversing with students from Oquirrh Hills’ choir and band and students from other schools who participated in the event. 

“It really unifies us all together, and it connects us as friends,” she said. 

In all, 69 musical groups performed. Other South Valley groups included Herriman High School’s chamber choir and orchestra.

The Oquirrh Hills Middle School performances were the last ones before Gov. Gary Herbert used power tools to open the time capsule box that had been placed beneath a pillar at the building for more than 100 years. The capsule included pictures from the construction of the building, newspapers from the time of the construction, coins, a railroad ticket, a 2-cent stamp and history books. 

“It felt exciting to have that time slot,” Perkins said. “We’re really grateful they made this opportunity available to us, and we hope we can do this stuff in the future.”