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Concert to honor Legacy conductor

Chorale director is leaving after performance

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The only constant is change, so they say, and that truism has particular meaning for the Legacy Chorale.

Five years ago, the choir was formed from former members of the Jay Welch Chorale who wanted to continue singing after the chorale was dissolved. Initially singers without a leader, they found their man in Hillcrest High School choral teacher Brian Bentley.

But now they're in transition again as Bentley steps down and the singers search anew for a musical director.

On Thursday, choir members will raise their voices in a farewell tribute to Maestro Bentley as their conductor takes the stand for the last time. Fittingly, the concert will be a retrospective of favorites sung during Bentley's tenure, focusing on folk hymns, Mack Wilberg and John Rutter arrangements and traditional patriotic favorites.

"We're calling it a festival of favorites," said choir member Gary Walton. "Most of it is stuff we have done before. It's kind of a sentimental journey, if you want."

Treasurer Debra Cope added that the program is mostly on the lighter side and all in English.

That hasn't always been the case, as the choir has embraced music in Latin, Greek and other languages. "The very first piece we did when (Bentley) took over was 'Dona Nobis Pacem,' " said Walton. "We tackled that and did all right. We just did the complete Messiah, which is a big undertaking — uncut, 20 choruses, orchestra and soloists." Both singers agreed that during Bentley's tenure, the choir hasn't shied away from challenging repertoire. "Brian is not the least bit afraid of very ambitious undertakings," said Walton, adding that he has appreciated Bentley's leadership in helping the choir succeed in those challenges.

"The thing I have enjoyed the most," Walton said, "is complete confidence in his approach to whatever we're doing. I have no misgivings at all in putting everything I can in doing exactly what he's asked me to do because I feel completely confident that will make the piece sound as good as it possibly can."

Walton and Cope agree that one of the traits they've appreciated most about Bentley is his teaching ability. "He brought a new level of educational experience, especially to those who didn't have the college or the high school training but wanted to sing anyway," said Cope. "He taught us all of the things he would teach us if we were in one of his school classes."

With a date set to sing in the Temple Square Concert Series and another to sing at Libby Gardner Hall, Walton says he's hopeful that the choir can get a new conductor who will continue to inspire and motivate in a positive direction. "We're looking, but nothing has been offered to anybody yet," said Cope.

If you go

What: Legacy Chorale

Where: Libby Gardner Hall, University of Utah

When: Thursday, 7:30 p.m.

How much: $4

E-mail: rcline@desnews.com