After 15 years of rehearsing together and performing together, the Utah Chamber Artists has polished its rehearsal process. So it doesn't seem to make much of a difference to them that conductor Barlow Bradford teaches at BYU-Hawaii and lives on a small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
The show must go on.
"This group is absolutely amazing," said Bradford, noting that the choir will assemble for five rehearsals in one week's time. The upcoming Christmas program, he said, will include Rutter's "Magnificat," as well as some lighthearted fare and audience sing-alongs.
"Most choirs wouldn't even consider doing that," Bradford said. "Magnificat is 85 pages long. We've had four rehearsals, and it's learned. The whole thing is ready to go. We could perform tonight if we needed to. And at this point, it's just kind of refinement and solidifying. But it's an amazing thing to be able to do with a choir, to put together an entire program like that in four rehearsals is unbelievable."
The Magnificat, said Bradford, is a beautiful piece. "And after getting in there and working with it, I think it's much more beautiful than I had pictured. . . . Of course, you know, it's the Christmas text. I'm not sure that everyone knows exactly why the Magnificat is something that's done at Christmas, but we will be explaining that a little bit in our program." As for the soloists, Bradford said they will be coming from the choir.
Some of the arrangements are "homegrown" as well; several of the carols to be presented in the second half have been arranged by Bradford. "Winter Wonderland" is a new arrangement for this year.
"Our Christmas concerts are always so well-attended," Bradford said. "This is just, of course, part of our season, and one thing we have started. A few years ago, we started singing carols with the audience, and they seemed to really enjoy that. We do special arrangements. I usually have the orchestra accompany that. It's kind of fun to come and just sing with the orchestra."
Last year, said Bradford, they even did a choral arrangement with the audience. "I turned around and explained to them what they needed to do, and we did it, and it was really kind of fun."
Another enjoyable aspect of the Christmas concert, said Bradford, is the English-style refreshments afterward. "We have some wassail and biscuits or something afterward, and people just stay around and chat and have something to eat."
One thing that won't be traditional this year, however, is a new venue. Monday night's concert will be at Libby Gardner Concert Hall, but Tuesday's concert will be in Sandy, at the Waterford School Concert Hall. Bradford said that he hopes that will make it easier on audience members who live at the south end of the valley.
If you go
What: Utah Chamber Artists
Where: Libby Gardner Concert Hall, University of Utah
When: Monday, 7:30 p.m.
How much: $10-$50
Also: Waterford School Concert Hall, 1480 E. 9400 South, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.