Thursday, April 14, 2011


I was blown away by a youtube video of a 2054 voice virtual choir singing "Sleep" by Eric Whitacre. You can view it at
The director wrote and made available the music, the direction, and solicited people the world over to submit a youtube of one of 8 parts. It was then combined, edited, and put together is such a way that it is truly moving.

I have been a choir director, off and on, for 40 years. First time was as a single student at BYU. One fourth of the ward sang in the ward choir. We met in the MARB (science building) which has tiered seating, with a fat section down the middle and narrow sections down each side. The choir filled one whole side. I sat on the aisle of the middle section halfway up, and the choir sang across the audience from the side. It was exciting to have that many enthusiastic singers!!

Actually, that wasn't the first. One summer when I was in high school, I asked 15 or so children in my ward to be in a children's choir. We met Saturday mornings, did 15 minutes of "music appreciation" (listening to Peter and the Wolf, Grand Canyon Suite, Scheherazade, etc) and being introduced to real musical instruments (high school friends who played in the school orchestra). Then we would spend 30 minutes working on Primary songs that I had arranged. We sang 3 times that summer in Sacrament meeting.

I have since had much smaller, and sometimes much less enthusiastic, choirs, but it is always magic to me to take a piece of written music and have it come alive. I have arranged pieces, added other instrumentation, and even written some choir music. But it is always the same. Hearing the voices blend, swell or whisper, giving the words strength and purpose - it just moves me in a way nothing else does.

I had a practice at my home for the sopranos and altos in our ward choir to work on a particularly hard Easter piece. Bob was in the other room, and when it was over he asked, "How do you know so much about music?" Good question. I took piano for 4 years. I took choir in high school. But so did Bob. I have sung in choirs and in the Messiah almost every year since we were married. But so has Bob.

I sang in my ward choir as a youth in Elk Grove California. Our director was Helen Butler later Helen Dastrup. She was amazing. She had a wonderful contra alto voice that sounded like a cello to me. She knew how to make the music breathe - come to life. I have sung under many wonderful directors and I watch how they do things. I have just picked up things that worked for me. I am not all that good, but I do love it.

This winter I finished a choir piece, "Came to Earth", that I started in 1987. I wanted my ward choir to do it for Easter, but I thought it was too hard for the voices I had, and I didn't have the confidence to push it through. Maybe we will do it at Christmas - it can be sung for either. But Karen heard it, and they are doing it in her ward in Midvale! They are having an extra rehearsal the Saturday before Easter, and I am going to go hear it sung!! I can hardly wait.

I have heard music and singing in a cathedral in London, in a dirt floor two room hut in Kenya, in the Tabernacle on Temple Square, in an upstairs conference room being used for a branch in Tokyo. I have heard the voices of thousands singing together at a Scout Jamboree, a college football game, a Messiah sing along in a basketball stadium, and now via the internet - voices from around the world.

I know why there were angels singing at the birth of Christ. I know why there will be "a new song" sung at his second coming. I know why "the mountains shout for joy and the valleys sing". Some things are too powerful, to important, to just be spoken. They must be sung.

1 comment:

susan said...

Again, so well said my eyes are sweating. Thank you for sharing this part of you and how gifts work.