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The City Journals

South Jordan Choir’s hard work pays off, performs at Carnegie Hall

Mar 05, 2019 03:47PM ● By Jennifer Gardiner

A Winter Rose with 22 SoJo faces. (Photo courtesy McKell Scanlan)

By Jennifer Gardiner | [email protected]

In what was an experience and opportunity of a lifetime, the South Jordan Chorale travelled to New York to perform at Carnegie Hall with world-renowned composer Mark Hayes.

Under the baton of Assistant Conductor Deborah Veater, the group set off just days before its annual Sounds of the Season concert. Once in New York, the group spent two days and several hours working with Hayes before the final performance in Pearlman Hall at Carnegie.

McKell Scanlan, SoJo Choral Arts executive director, said working with a conductor who is also a composer provided unique insights for the singers.

“The choir performed ‘A Winter Rose,’ including ‘Gloria’ (a world premiere of his new piece) and ‘Hodie Christus Natus Est,’” said Scanlan. “The choir was also joined by a professional soloists, a top-notch orchestra and other seasoned vocalists from around the country.”

New York Concert Review Inc. says Hayes is skilled in all aspects of composition. 

“It is his undeniable gift for melodic writing that is his calling card,” read the review. “The audience gave him, the orchestra, chorus and soloists a standing ovation at the end.”

Hayes is most known for having written several choral arrangements and has more than 1,000 publications. He has published several books that included arrangements for anyone from soloists to choirs all over the world. 

Carnegie Hall is a concert venue in Midtown Manhattan, 2 blocks from Central Park. Built in 1891 by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, it is known as one of the most prestigious venues in the world for both classical music and popular music. 

South Jordan City Mayor Dawn Ramsey, who sings as a soprano with the choir, joined the rest of the group in New York. As luck would have it, Ramsey turned out to be a really good guide to the city, Scanlan said. 

The group found time to enjoy New York, including seeing Broadway shows, visiting several tourist attractions and eating at some incredibly great restaurants.

The choir has been invited to return to perform with Hayes again over Memorial Weekend in 2020 at the Lincoln Center. The Choir plans on spending time working hard to get ready for yet another amazing opportunity. The members are also planning on finding ways to raising money for their next big adventure. 

South Jordan Chorale is a part of the nonprofit organization SoJo Choral Arts, founded by McKell Berrett Scanlan. It is composed of a board directed by President Stan Page, overseeing musical groups comprising approximately 300 volunteers.  

Scanlan said the choir prides itself on being a music community that gives back. The members have raised money for Make-A-Wish, local family shelters, food banks, Charity Water and other worthy causes. 

“What this group has in common is a desire to create and share music, but it goes beyond that,” said Scanlan. “Over the past 14 plus years, they have been steadily building an organization, primarily made up of musicians, whose interest is in lifting people in our community, through music and service.”  

Sponsors of SoJo Choral Arts include Merit Medical, Sorenson Legacy Foundation, Miller Family Foundation, Eccles, ZAP and South Jordan Arts Council.

The choir also performs a Christmas Spectacular yearly called “Sounds of the Season” the first Saturday of every December. The choir is accompanied by professional pianists Lori Hicks, Jamee Talbot and Debbie Robbins and a 30-member volunteer orchestra with conductor Barbara Peterson and concertmaster Jeremy Starr.

“The choir was started 14 years ago by Director Marlene Stanley, who was in her 60s at the time,” said Scanlan. “Now in her 80s, there has been a need to train an assistant director, Deborah Veater, a local musician who shares the same love for music as Marlene.”

Sounds of the Season rehearsals begin at the end of August on Thursday evenings, and it will be adding Saturday mornings in October. 

Scanlan said there are currently some openings for singers, especially men, noting the group work on advanced pieces, but there is no audition required. 

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