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Arts and Culture

Uintah Basin Concert Showcases Local Musical Talent Friday


The Uintah Basin Orchestra and Chorus will present a concert Friday, December 6, at 7:30 p.m. in the Vernal Middle School Auditorium.  Conducted by Utah State University Music Department Head, Dr. James M. Bankhead, the UBOC was organized in November.

One hundred and sixty residents from Roosevelt and Vernal will perform holiday selections including Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, John Rutter’s Candelight Carol and Shepherd’s Pipe Carol, and arrangements from Mack Wilberg.

Creating an orchestra and chorus was the idea of USU’s Uintah Basin Dean Boyd Edwards and other musicians who wanted to bring music to the basin.  An increasing number of families are moving to Eastern Utah to fill positions that have opened because of the oil and gas industry surge. 

“I’ve really missed playing in an orchestra and being around other musicians,” said Melinda Smith.  “I’ve really missed that since we move here.” 

Smith moved to Vernal six years ago with her husband and children.  Before that she lived in Idaho and was a member of the Teton Chamber Orchestra.

Kirsten and Dean Anderson moved their family to Vernal for a job opportunity.  She had grown up living along the Wasatch Front and watched as her parents performed with The Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  Kirsten is a pianist and her daughter plays a string instrument. 

“I was a little concerned with it being a small town,” said Anderson.

When Kirsten and Melinda learned about auditions for the UBOC they joined hundreds of others to showcase their talents before Dr. Bankhead. 

“You never expect to hear a seventh grade French horn player that can play the Strauss Horn Concerto, or the young cellist who is on his way to Juilliard,” said Bankhead.  “The talent is here.”

Anderson will be accompanying the chorus and orchestra on a synthesized keyboard Friday night.

“The choir was up on the riser and they literally started to cry,” she said. “There was so much energy and excitement.”

Bankhead said he is not focusing on having all of the singers or musicians perform on perfect pitch this first time, and he doesn’t expect all of the string players to be in sync with their bows.  What he does want is for the community to enjoy their friends and neighbors performing with the passion they have expressed during the few weeks the organization has been working together.

“You will hear, from this ensemble, a passion that reflects the love they have for the music, for each other, for the community they are representing.  It is that love of making music,” said Bankhead.