Well, they didn’t make me…but dear friends and U. of U. singing mates, Ron and Shauna Ruske, strongly encouraged me to audition, sensing that this new group they’d gotten themselves into was going to be something extraordinary. And that’s “why I sang”, in the Utah Chamber Artists.
It was 1991, and lest Shauna become “puffed up” over this, let me clarify: The Ruskes are how I learned about the organization. The whys that compelled me to sing with it for its entire first 25 years of existence are too numerous to even begin listing. It’s sobering and thrilling to realize a full generation of time has passed, introducing to the UCA membership some born after its inception. Im always hopeful that as new singers join the choir they soon come to realize and fully embrace the rare opportunity they’ve been given to take this journey, for as long as circumstances permit.
I stood showering last Sunday morning, having cranked-up the bathroom radio’s volume loud enough to be heard through the water, and pondered what I might write for this newsletter piece. I listened intently as the message of “Music and the Spoke Word” ironically and befittingly addressed the power of music to create and strengthen relationship bonds — no matter their nature. It recognized the countless lifelong friendships that are forged by people who perform together in a choir or orchestra. Not a real newsflash, I suppose, to those of us who know these feelings and therefore seek out opportunities to feed the hunger for them. But it’s a reminder to me of the numerous gifted choral music lovers who have come into my life via UCA, with whom I’ve had the cherished blessing of sharing musical bonds and creating enduring relationships.
Aren’t you glad there are others who “get it”? I will never forget the visual imagery used by a high school teacher in helping the students understand the musical force they could be and the intensity of an experience they could have if they would discipline themselves to give equal measures of mental focus, vocal preparedness and emotional investment, all at the same time, creating a perfectly balanced triangle. It is that strength and commitment which I believe allows the Utah Chamber Artists to be a total, greater than the sum of its parts — and the parts are pretty impressive, each on their own! Barlow, of course, is the genius builder who knows intimately every brick, board and nail, meticulously assembling until the grand opening of an audial palace, into which each concert attendee is invited.