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Christmas Music A Way Of Life For Local Choir And Orchestra

Nov 21, 2014 10:06AM ● Published by Shawna Meyer

The Sounds of the Season Chorale and Orchestra has played together for about 10 years. It is composed of 125 singers and about 28 instrumentalists.

The Sounds of the Season Chorale and Orchestra will perform its annual holiday concert on Saturday, Dec. 6 in the Bingham High School auditorium, 2160 West 10400 South. There will be a matinee concert at 2 p.m. and an evening one at 7 p.m. Admission is free for both.

“Music is a universal language—no matter what language you speak, everybody understands it. Music makes you feel good, bad, uplifted, and Christmas music does nothing but uplift you,” said Marlene Stanley, Sounds of the Season director.

Stanley has been the director of the Sounds of the Season group for 10 years now. 

Her father directed choirs and taught voice at the University of Utah, so music was always an integral part of Stanley’s childhood. She began singing in choirs in elementary school. She went to Brighton High, where she was in an acapella group, and she took music classes while at the University of Utah.

“I feel music because of the parenting I had. I lived in a home that was filled with music. It would have been very hard for me to grow up and not have it be an integral part of my life,” she said.

After college, Stanley moved to Houston, Texas, where she lived for about 40 years. While there, she continued to sing in choirs. However, when she was around 33, she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, which made singing very difficult.

Fortunately, her illness didn’t end her love for music. Instead of singing in choirs, she decided that she would direct them. She began directing smaller choirs while still in Houston, but then decided to move back to Utah in 2000, settling in South Jordan. 

When Christmas time came around, Stanley noticed that her community didn’t really have a choir that was separate from local churches. She decided to present her idea for a choir to the South Jordan Arts Council, and her idea was approved.

“I just felt like sometimes we need to have something that’s more light and fun. I felt like people needed a place to go that was maybe close to home that did not require auditions, and they could just sing,” Stanley said.

The choir started basically by word of mouth. Stanley had spent so much time away from Utah that she had only a few contacts, but she called everybody musical that she knew and invited them to join her choir.

“I thought that if I could get 50 people, I would be good. I ended up with 80,” Stanley said.

Ten years later, the Sounds of the Season Chorale and Orchestra has about 125 singers and about 28 instrumentalists who play strings, woodwinds, one French horn and percussion. 

The choir began rehearsing for their December shows way back in August because they have so much music and words that they have to learn and memorize. The orchestra will join them for rehearsal in about mid-November. 

 “They just love Christmas music. It’s great music. I’ve never had anybody say that they’re tired of it,” Stanley said.

The Dec. 6 program will have 17 musical numbers—eight will be recycled from past years and nine will be brand new. It will run about an hour and half long with no intermission.

This choir and orchestra is a pretty big commitment, but Stanley makes sure that it remains fun and lighthearted. In fact, about half of her group members have been with her since the beginning.

She has a couple who are both 87 who have been singing in this group for 10 years. 

 “They sit—and you know what—the thing about them is that they can still sing . . . They can follow music and they can sing. They’re just darling. They’ve been with me for 10 years and have hardly missed a rehearsal,” Stanley said.

Those in attendance can expect familiar songs such as “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year,” “Joy To The World,” “You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch,” and “Angels We Have Heard On High.”

 “It’s the music that people love, but they’re very unique, difficult arrangements,” Stanley said. “I think Christmas music is a way of life in this country. I think it’s a tradition. . . I think if you asked any musical person in the world some of their most favorite music of all time is Christmas.” 
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