By Linda Parker
Special to The PREVIEW
Ask any musician the first thing that comes to mind when they hear the words “Salt Lake City” and the response will always be the same: Mormon Tabernacle Choir. When asked the same question, the members of the Pagosa Springs Girls Choir (PSGC) responses were similar based on their recent visit to the city.
However, the girls could not limit their reply to the simple phrase. Instead, their answers included, “amazing performances,” “incredible organ concerts,” “perfection in a choir rehearsal.”
In addition to providing young girls in Pagosa with an opportunity to learn about singing and providing this community with outstanding choral performances, the PSGC provides members the opportunity to participate in an educational trip each summer to study a specific genre of music. This year’s trip included a collage of musical performances. The girls attended live organ concerts at Temple Square, they witnessed the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at work during a rehearsal, and they finished their trip with a performance of Paula Abdul and her Total Package Tour.
“Salt Lake City was a great place for the girls to visit because the Tabernacle choir is a first-class organization that is known internationally,” said PSGC Director Linda Parker. “I wanted the girls to see the choir firsthand, and to witness a rehearsal was such a remarkable learning experience for them. Many of the girls noted that our rehearsals are similar in that we rehearse passages many times, striving for excellence and not being complacent with mediocrity. The girls were also impressed with the continued and necessary focus of the 300-voices in the choir during the three-hour rehearsal.”
The girls also had the opportunity to attend two organ concerts during their stay, which were presented on two different instruments. The second of the two concerts was held in the Conference Center, which is where the televised performances of the Tabernacle Choir are held and recorded.
“The organ is a magnificent instrument, and the performers are superior musicians,” said Parker.
At the end of the concert, the girls got to meet Richard Elliott, the organist, who was so impressed with the girls, their questions, and their demeanor, he invited the girls to the stage to let them see the organ more closely. He showed the girls the video camera attached to the organ which allows him to see the conductor and he explained the microphones that each instrument uses so that the sound is balanced throughout the performance hall.
Lucy Taylor, choir member, remarked, “The huge organs in the Tabernacle were my favorite. I really enjoyed going up on stage to see and learn about all the parts of the two organs.”
While summer trips are all about the music, Parker also tries to incorporate other educational activities into a trip so that the girls take advantage of being in a large city. Salt Lake City provided a myriad of adventures for the girls. They visited Antelope Island and saw the Great Salt Lake, they learned about Brigham Young and pioneer times at This is the Place Heritage Park and they learned about the planets and solar system at Clark Planetarium. The girls rounded out their tour by attending a live concert of Abdul, New Kids on the Block, and Boyz II Men.
PSGC concertgoers have seen the girls use simple choreography with their music, and Abdul is a master choreographer. The girls were thrilled to see how choreography can add to a performance but also how difficult it can be to sing and move at the same time.
“We have some real ‘stepping-up’ to do to match what we saw!” said Parker.
She continued, “I’m so glad that everyone enjoyed the trip and the concert. Seeing live performances of the arts makes a huge difference in everyone’s life, particularly, young people. To see the girls’ faces, to watch their expressions, and to hear them talk about the music, the performers, and the concerts is so rewarding for me. This will be an experience that they will carry for a lifetime.”
Gwen Taylor, mother of two daughters in the choir and accompanist for the group said, “What an incredible variety of experiences these girls had! Such a range of musical (the numerous different kinds of concerts), cultural (Temple Square and Heritage Park), natural (the Great Salt Lake), and scientific (the planetarium) wonders. The girls certainly saw and heard many unique and exceptional events that many of them had no idea even existed. Their worlds are now bigger, so we can say, ‘mission accomplished.’”
The PSGC would like to thank the Pagosa community and all who so generously donate to the PSGC for helping make this experience a reality for the girls. For girls interested in becoming members of the choir, please visit the website www.singpagosa.org or email Parker at firstname.lastname@example.org.