Park City Singers announces new artistic director
September 9, 2016
The Park City Singers have a new artistic director.
Joe Demers, an instructional coach at Parley's Park Elementary School, will replace longtime director Debra Cook, who stepped down to focus her efforts on running the Utah Conservatory.
Demers, who has spent the past 25 years in education, was surprised when he got the call.
"The call initially came out of the blue," Demers told The Park Record during a joint interview with Park City Singers' Renee Mox Hall and Marty Statin. "It was good timing for me with my wife and professional duties, and I felt this would be great and that I would love to do it."
To introduce himself to the choir, Demers will host a meet and greet at Parley's Park Elementary, 4600 Silver Springs Rd., on Saturday, Sept. 10, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
"This is more focused on existing members of the Park City Singers to meet with me," Demers explained. "I would also like to meet with anyone who is new in the next week or two, so I can connect with them personally."
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On Sunday, Sept. 11, the Park City Singers will host a welcoming party at Statin's home, 1975 Evening Star in Park Meadows, starting at 5 p.m.
"This is a party that will welcome back the singers whom we haven't seen all summer," Statin said.
It's also an event for anyone who wants to know more about the Park City Singers, a non-audition community choir, according to Mox Hall.
"We do welcome new members continually, and everyone who is interested in finding out more about the Park City Singers and what we do can come and meet the singers and meet Joe," she said. "We would like them to feel welcome to come to the party and get to know us a little better."
More information can be found by visiting http://www.facebook.com/Park-City-Singers-114554848614695/?fref=ts.
"That's where they can find the invitation and RSVP to Marty," Mox Hall said.
Official rehearsals for the choir's holiday concerts will start Tuesday, Sept. 13, at 6:30 p.m.
The holiday concerts that are confirmed will be presented at St. Mary's Catholic Church on Dec. 14, and Park City Community Church on Dec. 16.
"There may be other opportunities that will come up, and we'll let everyone know," Mox Hall said.
The weekly rehearsals usually start at 7:30 p.m. but this week, the choir members will have some paperwork that needs to be filled out, so the rehearsal will start at 6:30 p.m.
Rehearsals will cover an array of pieces that were selected by a group of Park City Singers that included Demers.
"We have a varied selection that includes Schubert's 'Gloria' from the Mass in G and we have other seasonal hymns, both on the secular side and the sacred side, that we'll do as well," Demers said. "We wanted to do a balance of different types of literature to present to the community, so we looked at the Baroque classical era and some contemporary pieces."
Demers is honored to have his new position.
"I'm grateful for this opportunity to lead this group, because I know its history in the Park City community," he said. "I did sing with them 10 years ago and did a couple of other things with them in different capacities during the Messiah Sing Along. So, I also know the importance of the entertainment the singers brings to the community."
Although Demers' current occupation at the school isn't music oriented, he is well qualified to lead the Park City Singers.
"I started piano lessons when I was 7, and that really wasn't an option," he said with a laugh. "It was just part of my education that my parents did.
"As I grew older, I realized that music was something that I wanted to pursue, and I found that singing was another aspect of music that I enjoyed," Demers said. "I sang barbershop harmony choruses when I was a kid and into adulthood."
Demers, a baritone, sang in college choirs and started directing church choirs on his own.
"That's a ministry that I've been doing for more than 30 years," he said. "I'm currently the music director at St. Mary's Catholic Church."
Demers earned a music degree in voice, as well as a degree in general education from San Diego State University.
"I also have a masters in curriculum and instruction," he said.
While he was studying for his music degree at San Diego State University, Demers planned to be a piano major.
"That changed when my experience in the choral aspect started to evolve," he said. "I realized that if I wanted to work with choirs, I should have my own voice and know how singers should sing."
His goal for the Park City Singers is to take what has been done in the past and maintain the high quality of the choir.
"I firmly believe that anyone who tells me that they can't sing haven't had the opportunity to be with me first," Demers said with another laugh. "Unfortunately when people are told not to sing, that stigma lasts with them for life, but I believe people can be trained to sing.
"In fact, we have all types of people in the group and there are some challenges with people who have pitch difficulties, but I will work with them and place them where they will be supported," he said. "I'm excited to start next week with the choir."
Park City Singers will start rehearsals for the group's upcoming holiday concerts at Park City Community Church, 4501 S.R. 224, on Tuesday, Sept. 13, at 6:30 p.m.