Friday, December 21, 2018

Families and Photos of 78th Messiah

Lawrence Johnson

Alex Byers

Valerie Wainwright

Jessie Byers
Marla McMaster

Ashlee Lieske and Kirstina Maggio

Sandy Hedgecock

Jacklyn Thompson
Emily Dimond

Terri Metcalf-Peterson
Jasmine Hailstone

Richard McMaster, trumpet with Curtis Chamberlain as bass soloist

Jaclyn Thompson on left, Kara Barney and Brooke Aldredge, center
136 in Messiah Chorale: 67 participate as members of families: grandparent joining with children & grandchildren, 11 sets of husband and wife, 6 Hailstones, 5 Byers, 4 Johnsons

63 in orchestra: 2nd violin Autumn's father Clint Firth sings violist Sara Penny's brother Roice Nelson and his wife Andrea sing

What other family connections are we missing? We'll update. Send connections and corrections to

Thanks to Rollan Fell, Des Penny, Lisa Cox and OSU musicians for photos.
Final Bows

Canyon View Middle School Orchestra provided Sunday lobby music.
Soloists after Monday's performance

Interfaith Alliance provided Sunday cookies
Directors Xun Sun and Jackie Riddle-Jackson with Rollan Fell

Backstage before Monday's performance

Southern Utah Handbells provided Monday night lobby music

Directors Xun Sun and Jackie Riddle-Jackson with soloists after Monday's performance.


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Easter in December: Concert Review

By Bryce Christensen

“Christmas,” as Duke professor C. Kavin Rowe remarks, “. . . requires Easter. . . . Easter--the resurrection--is why Christmas is Christmas.”  And no celebration of Christmas more compellingly links these two holidays—these two holy days—than does the marvel that is Handel’s Messiah.  On December 9th and 10th, the Orchestra of Southern Utah (OSU) and the Orchestra of Southern Utah Chorale renewed the profound linkage between the two holidays with masterful performances of Handel’s masterpiece, the apt theme “A Magnificent Story” pointing concert-goers to a sacred scriptural story beginning in a stable in Bethlehem and ending—no, not ending­—in a tomb outside Jerusalem.

In his welcoming remarks, OSU President Harold Shirley invited those in attendance to join in recognizing the more-than-human significance of the celebratory performances as “our gift to the King.”  Repeatedly, the wonderful music that followed indeed strengthened faith in the Heavenly King who, as the Christmas babe, lay sleeping in a manger crib, but who, as the Easter Lord, rose triumphant from his sepulchral bed.  How fitting that this concert dedicated to the memory of two former OSU violinists, Judith Spender Larsen and Mary MacDonald, should stir supernal hope of redemption from death!

From the majestic opening strains of the “Overture,” to the overwhelming Amens of the final Chorus, “Worthy Is the Lamb That Was Slain,” two hundred chorale and orchestra musicians carried listeners along this inspiring journey from Christmas to Easter, filling the hearts of all in attendance with a double measure of  holiday spirit.

OSU director Xun Sun deserves high praise for so superbly preparing the 64 musicians under his baton to deliver almost two hours of exquisite music, thrillingly rendered.  A positively ecstatic presence on the director’s podium, Sun signaled by his impassioned gestures his own complete investment in the music he was leading. Though entirely instrumental at some points—most notably, in the “Overture” and the “Pastoral Symphony”--that music served as complement and accompaniment most of the evening to the splendid vocal music of the chorale.  And though she was less visible than Maestro Sun, Chorale director Jackie Riddle-Jackson merits no less favorable recognition, particularly for her labors in selecting fifteen soloists and then assigning the two dozen recitatives and airs so that all shone with impressive brilliance in their performance.

With the poise of a singer well seasoned as a Messiah soloist, tenor Lawrence Johnson began the evening’s solos by delivering “Comfort Ye My People” with moving emotion, before rendering “Every Valley Shall Be Exalted” with the exalted sense of a prophetic visionary.  Likewise familiar to Cedar City audiences as a Messiah  soloist, baritone Alex Byers conveyed a sense of unshakeable conviction from the very first note of “Thus Saith the Lord,” before his powerful voice articulated searching questions in “But Who May Abide the Day of His Coming?” calling mortals to the deep self-scrutiny.

Her voice tremulous with expectation, mezzo soprano Valerie Wainwright revisited messianic hopes in “Behold! A Virgin Shall Conceive,” before seamlessly segueing into the joyous imperatives of “O Thou That Tellest.”  With something of the seraphic in her own beautiful soprano voice, Jessie Byers carried listeners to a scene of angelic choirs with “There Were Shepherds Abiding in the Field,” “And the Angel Said Unto Them,” and “And Suddenly There Was With the Angel.”

In measures electric with celestial rapture, soprano Marla McMaster sang “Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter of Zion,” after which soprano Jaclyn Thompson infected her listeners with human astonishment at divine miracles in “Then Shall the Eyes of the Blind Be Opened.”

In a voice evocative of supernal watchcare, soprano Ashlee Lieske sang “He Shall Feed His Flock Like A Shepherd,” her notes tenderly poignant.  And in soprano Kristina Maggio’s “Come Unto Me,” listeners heard the plangent pleading of an infinitely loving Lord.

Plaintive and  redolent with pathos, alto Sandy Hedgecock’s “He Was Despised” marked a moment of singular poignancy in the performance.  Likewise heart-piercing was Jaclyn Thompson’s “He Was Cut Off,” a penetrating soprano solo all the more remarkable coming from a singer who would later demonstrate her exceptional range by singing “Then Shall Be Brought to Pass” as an alto.  

Listeners glimpsed the darkest spiritual threats but found ultimate reassurance in alto Emily Diamond’s “But Thou Didst Not Leave His Soul.”  And with the soaring notes of the very gifted soprano Terry Metcalf-Peterson’s “Thou Art Gone Up on High,” listeners climbed to blessed realms, there experiencing immense thankfulness for the bounty of a triumphant Lord.  

But the full Easter import of this unforgettable Christmas celebration rang out in soprano Jasmine Hailstone’s “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth.”  Endowing Job’s ancient prophecy with all the effulgent meaning of its fulfillment through Christ, Hailstone made her song a vibrant testimony of essential Christian belief.  

Forcefully amplifying that testimony, bass Curtis Chamberlin sang “Behold, I Tell You A Mystery” before trumpeter Richard McMaster joined in “The Trumpet Shall Sound” in a dazzling duet of human and instrumental soloists, Chamberlin’s rich bass voice plumbing the depths and McMaster’s radiant brass notes scaling the heights of the miraculous resurrection Christ won for all.  

As the last of the soloists, alto Brooke Alldredge and soprano Kara Barney sang “O Death, Where Is Thy Sting” in harmonious interplay, a magnificent weaving together of two well-paired voices, preparing the audience for the outpouring of the two final choruses: “But Thanks Be to God” and “Worthy Is the Lamb that Is Slain.”  

All the of evening solos were compelling, but even more praiseworthy than her work in preparing the soloists was Riddle-Jackson’s remarkable labors with the chorale as a whole, labors clearly manifest in the way all 136 voices melded into one potent, perfectly modulated force when rendering the dozen choruses performed during the concert.  Who could resist the exultant transport of “And the Glory of the Lord,” the jubilant elation of “For Unto Us a Child Is Born,” the worshipful adulation of “Glory to God,” the anguished pathos of “Behold the Lamb of God,” the boundless gratitude of “But Thanks Be to God,” or the awe-inspiring grandeur of “Worthy Is the Lamb That Was Slain”? Though the tradition that began with George II brings the audience to their feet only for the sublime “Hallelujah” Chorus, listeners at this fabulous concert must have felt like leaping to their feet for at least four or five of the outstanding choruses the Chorale performed.

As concert-goers left the Heritage Center these two December nights, wintery temperatures and patches of snow marked the season as Christmas.  But with echoes in the deep heart’s core of empyreal music delivering the promise of “victory through our Lord Jesus Christ,” all who attended left certain that spring would soon bring the transcendent promise of Easter.

For that renewed certainty, the throngs leaving the Center could thank two hundred devoted musicians, two inspired directors, and two generous event sponsors (the Leavitt Group and State Bank of Southern Utah).  In this certainty, grateful listeners found a Christmas gift that will last until Easter—and beyond.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Handel's Messiah "Magnificent Story"

Update: All tickets have been distributed. Stand by line starts at 6:45.  Empty seats released at 7:15 p.m. If you have tickets you are unable to use please get them to the Heritage Center.  Thanks to all involved.

Orchestra of Southern Utah Invites All to the 78th Performance of Handel’s Messiah

by Tanisa Crosby

        For it’s 78th year the Orchestra of Southern Utah will  an annual holiday tradition of performing a free public concert of Handel’s Messiah.  This year marks the 78th performance, which will take place on December 9th and 10th at the Heritage Center.  This concert is a way for the Orchestra to give back to the community during the holiday season.  Sponsored by the State Bank of Southern Utah and the Leavitt Group, it is free to the public. The OSU musicians and Chorale donate their time for this annual event.

        Over two hundred and fifty years since his death, Handel’s Messiah is still beloved amongst audiences. Premiering in April of 1742, Messiah shares the message found in the passages of the bible and Psalms from telling of the Savior’s birth, life, and hope of the resurrection.  Originally, Handel intended for the piece to be for Easter, but it has since become a Christmas season staple. With the whole first half of the piece is centered upon the birth of Christ, telling the story of Mary, the visitation of angels to the shepherds.  The second half tells more of what the Savior taught, his ultimate sacrifice of the atonement through his death, but that, just as Christ arose from the tomb, we too shall rise.

        It’s become a glorious message of hope, peace, and love for the Christmas season.  As such, it’s also become a beloved by the Orchestra members, sharing a peace and cheer filled message for the Holiday season.

       This performance is dedicated to the memory of Judith Spencer Larsen and Mary MacDonald, both of whom played viola in OSU for many years.

        Messiah will take place on December 9th and 10th at 7:30 pm and will take place at the Heritage Center Theatre (105 N 100 E, Cedar City, UT, located behind Lins). Tickets are free to the public and are now available at the Heritage Center. Empty seats are released at 7:15 p.m.  Children 6 and older are welcome to attend with adult supervision. For more information contact OSU Manager Rebekah Hughes at (435)592-6051 or

(Poster design by Rollan Fell of the Print Shoppe)

Spectrum article on both the St. George and Cedar City performances
Past performance of Good Tidings
2014 Hallelujah
2015 Comfort Ye and Every Valley
Post includes archival programs starting in 1970.

Sunday, Dec. 9

Monday, Dec. 10

7:30 p.m.

Heritage Center, 105 N. 100 East in Cedar City

Free and tickets now available from the Heritage Center

Empty seats released at 7:15 p.m.  Stand by line starts at 6:45 p.m.

Age 6 and over welcome with adult supervision. No babies please as the concert is recorded.


State Bank of Southern Utah and the Leavitt Group

Special thanks to the volunteer services of the Orchestra of Southern Utah musicians and the Chorale

Soloists for 2018:
Comfort Ye - Ethan McBride (tenor)
Every Valley Shall be Exalted - Ethan McBride (tenor)

Thus Saith the Lord - Alex Byers (baritone)
But Who May Abide the Day of His Coming - Alex Byers (baritone)

Behold a Virgin Shall Concieve - Krysten Tomlinson (alto)
O Thou That Tellest Good Tidings To Zion - Krysten Tomlinson (alto)

There Were Shepherds Abiding in The Field - Leslie Perkins (soprano)
And Lo, The Angel of The Lord - Leslie Perkins (soprano)
And the Angel said unto them - Leslie Perkins (soprano)
And Suddenly There Was With the Angel - Leslie Perkins (soprano)

Rejoice Greatly - Terri Metcalf-Petersen (soprano)

Then Shall the Eyes of the Blind be Opene'd - Brooke Alldredge (alto)
He Shall Feed His Flock/Come Unto Him - Brooke Alldredge (alto), Kristina Maggio (soprano)

Why do the Nations so Furiously Rage Together - Alex Byers (baritone)

How Beautiful Are the Feet - Jaclyn Thomas (soprano)

He That Dwelleth in Heaven - Shane Pierce (tenor)
Thou Shalt Break Them - Shane Pierce (tenor)

I Know That My Redeemer Liveth - Emily Diamond (soprano)
Behold, I Tell You a Mystery - Richard Waldron (baritone/bass) Richard McMaster (trumpet)
The Trumpet Shall Sound - Richard Waldron (baritone/bass)

More information:
Rebekah Hughes

Phone: (435) 592-6051

Friday, November 16, 2018

Live Music for Cedar City

OSU musicians participate in numerous community events.  Here are a few photos from the State Bank of Southern Utah event in Nov. and the STEAM Festival at SUU.

Thanks to everyone who participates in OSU as a musician, in the audience, backstage, support staff and a special shout out to our financial supporters who help us keep the music flowing.  Donations welcome and tax deductible:
P.O. Box 312
Cedar City, UT 84721

STEAM Festival at SUU in October exploring the science of sound.

Des Penny helped show students the science of sound with Anna Englestead assisting.

Musicians and volunteer Pam Littlefield helped the children make straw oboes
Desmond Penny  and Brooke MacNaughtan showed the students how wave motion creates harmonics