Honoring Vietnam Veterans During the 50th Commemoration

At the Bountiful Music in the Park patriotic concert with the 23rd Army Band, Utah Voices was honored to recognize more than 50 Vietnam veterans and thank them for their services.  While the choir sang the touching “Song for the Unsung Hero,” the Vietnam veterans came to the front to receive a Vietnam 50th Commemoration book and pin. Many members of the audience were moved to stand and applaud the veterans throughout the song.

The special tribute read by Artistic Director Kelly DeHaan is below, along with photos from the event.

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Utah Voices is one of 10,000 organizations around the country dedicated to recognizing and honoring our nation’s Vietnam veterans during the Vietnam War Commemoration.

To launch the commemoration, President Barack Obama proclaimed:

As we observe the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, we reflect with solemn reverence upon the valor of a generation that served with honor. We pay tribute to the more than three million servicemen and women who left their families to serve bravely, a world away from everything they knew and everyone they loved…

As a grateful Nation, we honor more than 58,000 patriots –their names etched in black granite — who sacrificed all they had and all they would ever know.We draw inspiration from the heroes who suffered unspeakably as prisoners of war, yet who returned home with their heads held high. We pledge to keep faith with those who were wounded and still carry the scars of war, seen and unseen.

As veterans began returning home in the 60s and 70s, Utah was not the hotbed of anti-war activity that some places were. But all the same, veterans did not return to fanfare and parades. Many men and women who had answered their nation’s call experienced disdain and animosity as the war grew longer and deadlier.

Community leader Gail Miller said, “Our greatest regret as a state may be the missed opportunities to honor Utah’s returning veterans from Vietnam five decades ago. Those brave men and women risked their lives doing what their country asked them to do. The war was not their fault, but they were treated terribly when then came home.”

One Utah veteran said, “The words ‘thank you’ are something that took 45 years or better for some of us to hear.”

That is our goal today with thisconcert – to say ‘thank you’ to every veteran in our audience, and during this 50th commemoration especially to the men and women who served in Vietnam. Thank you for serving your country. Thank you for risking your life far from home. Thank you for enduring the loss of your friends far too young. Thank you for everything you have done and are doing now to make our communities and families stronger.

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Say Hello to Associate Conductor Eric Noyes

Utah Voices is excited to welcome a great new addition to our artistic staff – associate conductor Eric Noyes. Eric received his Bachelor of Music degree in choral education from Brigham Young University, and is currently pursuing a Masters of Music degree in music education from Central Washington University. He has been the associate conductor of the Sterling Singers since 2014 and teaches music and math at South Hills Middle School in Riverton, while maintaining a private piano studio. Eric and his wife Amanda have two young sons.

Has music always been a part of your life? What were your earliest musical influences?

new assistant conductor Eric NoyesI owe most of my love of music to my angel mother. She was always singing, playing the piano, and accompanying choirs and singers for all of my childhood years. She and I still regularly work together, whether we are finding music for each other or listening to each other’s performing groups.

I sang with a children’s choir and, at age four I earned my first solo singing “Me, I want a hula hoop,” in the Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas song.  I got a taste of the spotlight and never wanted to leave.  I took piano lessons from Anita Ream, who taught me the diligence, precision to detail, and commitment to artistry that music making requires. I further studied vocal music from Tami Van Dusen and Claudia Bigler who gave me my first opportunities to teach music in meaningful ways. I still seek their wisdom and advice for teaching strategies and repertoire choices.

What made you decide to teach music? 

Some of my fondest memories from my school years came directly from being in music classes. I wanted to create those same experiences for students.  I knew I wanted music to always be a part of my life so I found a way to make it a career as well as a hobby.

What’s it like teaching music to junior high school students? That’s an age group that some people might be scared spend that much time with.

It’s exciting to teach students who often have not had experiences creating meaningful music.  It’s a joy to bring something so new to their lives.  I try to embrace the changing voices, awkward puberty and budding romances.  I am living proof to them that their awkwardness doesn’t last forever and that there is a chance their middle school choir crush could one day become their wife. As ninth graders, Amanda and I first held hands during a middle school choir festival trip—six years of marriage and two kids later, middle school choir is still a part of our life. I like to tease my students that their future spouse may be sitting in the room.

I understand that this is not the first time you have worked with Artistic Director Kelly DeHaan. How did you begin working together? 

I was assigned to student teach at West Jordan High School with a choir teacher named Kelly DeHaan. We quickly became close as we realized our similarities in teaching styles and musical interests. Overall, I had the best student teaching experience I could have asked for. I had countless memorable musical experiences but I will never forget the day Kelly made me hold 40 helium balloons out the roof of his convertible while driving home with him from the party store.

What are you most looking forward in joining Utah Voices?

While teaching middle school, we work on a lot of beginning repertoire, so I am excited to sing and study more advanced literature. I am excited to work with such talented individuals who are committed to making quality choral music together.

What do you want Utah Voices singers and fans to know about you?

I’m a music-loving kid who loves to learn more about directing choirs. I’ve been lucky to work with fantastically talented people, after whom I’ve tried to model my teaching style. I’m excited to learn even more as I embrace this new opportunity to work with such an amazing group of singers.

And since we are preparing for Broadway Bingo, what is your favorite musical, and what is your favorite song from a musical?

The day before Amanda and I were married we listened to The Drowsy Chaperone in the car on our way from BYU to our home town.  The show centers around a wedding, which made it especially appropriate for the occasion. Since then, this hilariously clever and witty show has been special for me. The show also has my favorite song, “I Am Aldolpho,” which is sung by an arrogant, self-proclaimed womanizer. It’s not a song that usually tops the lists of all-time favorites, but it sure is fun to sing and act. I probably enjoy it because the character is so opposite from who I truly am.

Fun Facts with Our New Artistic Director Kelly DeHaan

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When Utah Voices founding director Dr. Michael Huff announced that he would be leaving the choir after six seasons, our singers knew there was only one person who could possibly fill that space: Kelly DeHaan. Kelly had been the associate conductor and principal accompanist for the choir’s first five seasons and always brought humor and cheer to rehearsals, in addition to musical excellence. Lucky for us, Kelly missed Utah Voices almost as much as Utah Voices missed him, and now he is back as the new artistic director for season seven.

Kelly brings twenty years of experience as a music teacher, and plenty of accolades: He was awarded the O.C. Tanner Recognition Award in 2003, the Jordan Education Foundation Outstanding Educator Award in 2008, the UMEA Music Educator of the Year Award in 2009, and the Utah Educators Association Excellence in Teaching Award in 2014. Kelly has a mountain of other music experience, which you can read all about in his bio, but we wanted to learn a little more about what Kelly is really like. And he was kind enough to oblige with this interview.

What were your earliest musical influences?

The directors and teachers I had as a child were a massive influence on the direction of my life.  Mary Bothwell was my first piano teacher at age seven and I still remember many of my lessons with her. Taking cello from Mr. Turner and choir from Mr. Clay Peterson in elementary school seriously changed my life as well. I realized that music was part of who I was early on and became hungry to develop that part of me. Mr. Dee Rich in junior high, Mr. Norm Wendell in high school, Dr. John R. Cooksey and Dr. Edgar J. Thompson at the University of Utah all had huge impact on who I am as a musician and a man today.

How did you decide that you wanted music to be your career?

I fought it the best I could. I wanted to make a difference in the world, and as a young man, music seemed like a soft option. I tried pursuing a pre-med program for a very difficult term at the University of Utah, but I made the mistake of taking choir at the same time. I found I was loving choir and hating biology. I remember sitting on the lawn of our tiny apartment with my brand new wife. She could tell something was wrong. I told her that I didn’t want to be a doctor. She said, “Of course not. You’re supposed to be a music teacher.” That was it. It has turned out to be the opposite of a soft option. I’ve never worked so hard in my life. Teaching high school music has made my life rich and beautiful. I wouldn’t change a thing.

What is your favorite part about teaching teenagers music?


They are hilarious. They are just about fully formed human beings. They have fierce opinions and yet are so open to new experiences. I love watching them add to their abilities, increase their knowledge, and extend their courage. The kids at West Jordan High School have added dimension and richness to my life. My relationships with them are the treasures of my life. Watching them perform brings me a deep and true joy. I’ve had the opportunity to leave the high school realm to teach college, and I just couldn’t bring myself to leave these kids. Laughing keeps you young and music keeps you happy.

And you have probably learned a thing or two from them as well. What’s something your students have taught you?

To not take myself so seriously. “Relax DeHaan! We’ll get it.” High school students get a bad rap for being self absorbed and short-sighted. I have found them to be insightful, generous, tenacious and patient.

In addition to teaching high school music, you’re involved in a lot of different aspects music Utah, including your role as the music director at Hale Center Theater. What has been your favorite musical to be a part of at HCT?

Usually whatever my current project is ends up being my new favorite. I’m so lucky to work at the Hale Centre Theatre. We work so hard together to bring high quality family friendly theatre to our audiences. I enjoy directing, but I love performing! My favorite role was Detective Hanratty in Catch Me If You Can last year. I’ve never had so much fun on stage. Singing and dancing with six gorgeous women spinning around you is quite the kick in the pants.

What are you most looking forward to for your first year as the Utah Voices Artistic Director?

Establishing relationships of trust and friendship.  When a choir trusts you, they will work twice as hard to reach their goals. Dr. Michael Huff has done a brilliant job with this choir. I can’t believe that this amazing group brought me into their circle. They have been patient and kind and have already worked so hard. I look forward to working with them every single week.  I look forward to the group growing in numbers and ability. Our crazy-ambitious and brilliant board can make anything happen.

Tell me about your vision for Utah Voices in the coming years.

Finding the perfect balance of music that entertains the audience and yet stretches the singers is the eternal challenge with a non-auditioned community choir. I want to help create a safe environment of trust in our rehearsals: an environment that encourages growth and risk and productivity. I want the singers to laugh a lot, but to also work harder than they’ve ever worked.  We lose numbers whenever we do the tough music. I hope to be able to retain “recreational singers” as we tackle the masterworks together. I have a vision of living within our means financially. This may not win me any fans audience-wise but I feel it’s important to be responsible for our financial survival. I hope to do music that inspires and reaches and educates. I hope to maintain and establish new relationships with other performing organizations as well.

When you’re not directing or teaching music with HCT, Utah Voices, Sterling Singers or your high school or private students, what do you like to do with your time (as if there is any left)?

Being with my family is by far my favorite activity. I treasure my time with [my wife] Shellie and my boys. I also have two sweet little dogs that I love deeply. I enjoy walking and driving my convertible and going to the movies. I’m also addicted to fantasy novels and Diet Dr. Pepper.

Announcing Utah Voices’ Seventh Season

Utah Voices is thrilled to kick off our 2015-2016 season with a Christmas concert at the Utah State Capitol – our gift to our family, friends and fans. Then season seven continues with four more memorable shows. Join Utah Voices for each of our fun, unique and inspiring concerts this season.

The Gift of Christmas
December 5, 2015, 7:30 p.m., Utah State Capitolchristmas concert capitol rotunda

Celebrate the start of the Christmas season with Utah Voices in the beautiful Capitol Rotunda. The program includes a mix of Christmas classics, new favorites and a few unexpected twists (Jingle Bells like you’ve never heard it before!). This concert is presented free of charge, but donations are welcome. 

Jaynie Nye Memorial Holiday Concert
December 11, 2015, 7 p.m., Weber State University Browning Center

The following week, Utah Voices will join the phenomenal vocal trio GENTRI and world-renowned violinist Jenny Oaks Baker at the Jaynie Nye Memorial Holiday Concert. The concert is a fundraiser for the McKay-Dee Hospital Foundation and will be held December 11 at the Weber State University Browning Center.  Tickets can be purchased at weberstatetickets.com.

Broadway Bingo V
March 12, 2016, 7:30 p.m., Libby Gardner Concert HallBroadway Bingo V

In the spring, Utah Voices brings back its most popular and unique concert tradition – Broadway Bingo! Concert patrons don’t just get a regular old program, they get a Bingo card to play along for great prizes during the whole concert.

The French Connection with the Salt Lake Symphony
May 21, 2016, 7:30 p.m., Libby Gardner Concert Hall

Continuing a long-running collaboration with the Salt Lake Symphony, the spring concert will feature the Fauré Requiem along with works by Ravel and Rameau.

Patriotic Concert in the Park with the 23rd Army Band
July 15, 2016, 7 p.m., Bountiful City Parkpatriotic concert with the 23rd army band

Season seven wraps up with the fan-favorite Bountiful Concert in the Park. For the fourth year, Utah Voices will perform with the 23rd Army Band in a concert to celebrate the United States of America and our Utah heritage. This year, the concert will also honor the veterans of the Vietnam War.

6 Things You Didn’t Know About Haydn and The Creation (Probably)

Joseph Haydn is a well known guy. He taught Beethoven; he was friends with Mozart; and he has been called no less than “the father of the symphony.” But did you know that he married the sister of the woman he was in love with? (Oops!) Here are a few other things you might not know about Joseph Haydn and one of his most famous compositions: The Creation.

1. As a teenager, Haydn was fired from his job as a choirboy because he cut off another chorister’s pigtail.

2. An early version of the libretto for The Creation was first given to George Handel, but he chose not to work on it.

3. The anticipation for the first private performance of The Creation was so great that hundreds of people without invitations crowded in the street at the palace to try to listen.

4. The original libretto was written in English, but the first performance was sung in German.

5. Joseph Haydn composed 108 symphonies in his career. (108!)

6. He lived here, sometimes:

(That’s one of many palaces belonging to his patrons, the Esterhazys).

My Choir Member Resolutions for 2015

This January, let’s all be honest with ourselves. In 2015, we’re probably not going to lose 20 pounds; we’re probably not going to run a marathon; and we’re definitely not going to go vegan (or paleo or gluten-free…). This year, I invite choir members everywhere to join me in my achievable New Year’s resolutions:


1. I resolve to follow the conductor’s tempo, not make up my own.

2. I resolve to practice my music in between rehearsals… sometimes…

3. I resolve to observe all rests as they were written by the composer.

4. I resolve to breathe at the same time as the rest of my section… or not at the same time as anyone else in my section, depending on the direction of the conductor.

5. I resolve to not make fun of the sopranos… as much.

6. I resolve to recruit a bass or a tenor into my community choir (yes, a MALE tenor).

7. I resolve to leave my Nashville vowels at home.

8. I resolve to take care of myself, so I don’t get a terrible hacking cough exactly one day before the choir’s winter peformance.

9. I resolve to pronounce the Latin correctly.

10. I resolve to always have fun at rehearsals, love every moment of performances, enjoy the camaraderie of my fellow choir members and share the joy of music at every opportunity.

What are your musical resolutions for 2015?

Guiding Principles for Singers

In Utah Voice’s 2014-2015 season, Dr. Michael Huff introduced new and veteran members alike to a set of guiding principles for singers.

While singing of any sort is certainly fun, only quality music can achieve what legendary conductor Eph Ehly calls the ethereal:

Eph Ely

“Music belongs to that realm of the intangible. In it we can reach the domain of the ethereal. It’s a very light, abstruse and rarified place. Music is, after all, a product of one’s imagination. It’s given birth in the imagination of the composer, then re-created by the performer, and ultimately comprehended by the listener. However, if the music is interrupted by human error due to the performer’s technical frailty, then it’s as if gravity pulls us back down into our earthbound state. It interrupts our ascent toward perfection.”

Two of the concepts that Dr. Huff introduced to help eliminate that potential “technical frailty” were “bel canto” vocal tone and the acronym “VIBED” (Vocal quality, Intonation, Blend, Ensemble, Diction).

Bel Canto

Bel canto literally means “beautiful singing,” which seems like a pretty good place to start for Ehly’s “ascent toward perfection.” Dr. Huff’s keys for bel canto are:

  • Create a supported and controlled air stream by sitting up straight and using your abdominal and intercostal muscles (between the ribs).
  • Maintain healthy vibrating surfaces (vocal chords). Stay well hydrated and don’t get sick!
  • Utilize flexible resonators – we use the soft palate, jaw and lips to add and adjust vocal resonance


Next, the choir needs to get VIBED! If each member of the chorus can remember this acronym – and actually follow it – the musical quality and audience experience will soar.

Vocal quality – Does it sound appealing? Is it “right” for the music?
Intonation – Is it in tune? (This is a yes or no question.)
Blend – Are any voices “sticking out” of the vocal texture?
Ensemble – Is it together?
Diction – Can we understand what’s being sung?

This all may sound like a lot of work – and it is.  As Dr. Huff has written, “The entire process of achieving excellence in musical performance requires an undeviating personal commitment, exemplified by the conductor, and shared by every singer.”

And Robert Shaw agrees. “First (and last),” he said, “it seems to me that we have to agree that only the best is good enough.”

Creepy Classical Music for a Haunted Halloween

Here are a few of our favorite classical pieces, perfect for that holiday at the end of October. 

Danse Macabre

I remember being introduced to this piece in the fourth grade, and it was the first time I realized classical music didn’t have to be boring – it could be creepy! Danse Macabre was written in 1874 by French composer Camille Saint-Saens.

Night on Bald Mountain

Another early introduction to creepy classical, via Disney’s Fantasia, is Night on Bald Mountain. I can only assume I wasn’t the only child who found this segment of the movie too scary to watch. Russian Modest Mussorgsky composed Night on Bald Mountain in 1867.

Toccata and Fugue in D Minor

What Halloween music list would be complete without the da-da-dunnnnn of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor? These are certainly the notes you would hear as a vampire awakes in his casket, or as you slowly push open the door of a haunted mansion.

Imperial March

Some great creepy classical music has been written in this century, too. John Willims’ Imperial March from Star Wars will send chills down your spine, or at least make you want to protect your neck from an invisible chokehold.  Happy Halloween!

Meet Utah Voices’ New Associate Conductor: Luke Shepherd

Utah Voices is thrilled to welcome Luke Shepherd to our organization as a new Associate Conductor and Principal Accompanist. Luke will soon be graduating from Utah State University with a degree in choral education and has spent the last several years as a featured soloist and guest artist with numerous performing ensembles, the music director and pianist at the Old Lyric Repertory Company, and even the “Prestidigitating Piano Player of Pickleville Playhouse.” He currently works as a music director for the Utah State University Department of Theater Arts.

We got the chance to ask Luke about more than just his impressive resumé. Check out our Q&A below to find out who made Luke first buy a harmonica and why he joined Utah Voices.

What were your earliest musical influences?LUKE-7 ()

I think one of the biggest reasons I got into piano in particular was because of Billy Joel. Since as long as I can remember I loved the music of Billy Joel. When I was 12 years old I wanted to play “Piano Man” so badly that I went to the music store, bought a harmonica and a “how to play harmonica” book, and subsequently taught myself the harmonica and piano parts to “Piano Man.” It became a staple of my repertoire. Since then, playing harmonica/piano duets with myself has been one of my favorite outlets.

How did you decide to pursue music as a college major and as a career, rather than just a hobby? 

I think I always knew that music was my passion, even from a very young age, but I hit a roadblock initially in college. I’ll give you the watered down version. My freshman year as a music major was pretty depressing. I was involved in everything I could cram into my schedule — marching band, basketball band, jazz band, jazz combo, chorale, trombone ensemble, symphonic band, chamber singers, saxophone lessons, voice lessons — with the hopes that I could find a niche somewhere; however, no professors took an interest in me and I felt overlooked and unimportant.

I served a two-year [church] mission, then returned to the university with serious doubts as to whether or not I should really pursue music. It was my first week back at school that I met Michael Huff. I auditioned for an ensemble he was directing, and he was the first of my professors to take any notice of me. He introduced me to the head of the theater department, Ken Risch, and got me work as musical director at the university, among a dozen other opportunities. In a nutshell, I didn’t believe in myself until Michael and Ken did. It’s because of Michael Huff and Ken Risch that I didn’t quit on myself, school, and my ambitions several years ago.

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 9.43.03 AMThat’s so great that you get to continue to work with Dr. Huff now, at Utah Voices. What are you looking forward to the most in your first season with Utah Voices? 

I’m really looking forward to the association with the members of the choir. There is nothing in the world like making good music with people you love.

Tell us a little about your interests outside of music. If you had a weekend without any rehearsals, performances or studying, what do you do with it?

On the very rare occasion that I have a weekend without rehearsals, performances, or studying, I would play basketball and tennis with my friends, go hiking in Logan canyon, and maybe, just maybe, I would be able to go on a date with a special someone.

You’re at a very exciting time of your life – finishing up with school, getting started in a career. What are your goals for the next five or ten years?

During the next five years I hope to be teaching music at the secondary level somewhere and music directing for the musical theater. Marriage is pretty high on that list, too. I definitely want to pursue graduate degrees later on and perhaps teach at the university level. We’ll see if in 25 years the Mormon Tabernacle Choir wants to hire me as their next director or not.

I don’t see why they wouldn’t! One last question – what is the most important thing that you want Utah Voices singers and fans to know about you?

love music. I feel strongly about the powerful force music is for good in the world and in the lives of individuals who both listen to and participate in music-making. I feel so blessed to be able to do what I love with the people I love and for the people I love. There is no greater gift I could give.



Broadway Bingo’s Back!

Utah Voices is prepped and ready to rock ‘n’ roll at Utah’s most fun choir concert… Broadway Bingo is back!

You know this concert is going to be different when you walk in and get a Bingo card along with your program. Audience members get to play along during the concert, with great prizes up for grabs, like restaurant gift cards, movie passes and jewelry.

Join Utah Voices January 23 for the drama, laughter and music of the Great White Way with the best of Beauty and the Beast, Hair, Rock of Ages, The Drowsy Chaperone, and more.

Broadway Bingo usually sells out, so get your tickets now!