Brevitas concert will offer something for everyone
There are nearly as many misconceptions regarding choral music as there are people in the world, said Brevitas music director Matthew D. Nielsen.
"They aren’t mean-spirited, but there are those who think classical or choral music is boring or that people won’t understand or hear what they like," Nielsen said during an interview with The Park Record. "Other misconceptions are that professional musicians are stuffy."
The mission of Brevitas, a Salt Lake City-based nonprofit audition choir, is to debunk those misconceptions, promote choir music through concerts, continue the choral tradition and share choral music with the community.
"We also want to bring new music onto the scene in Utah in addition to do some educational outreach," Nielsen said.
Park City will get a chance to see and hear Brevitas when the choir performs its "Amid the Cold Winter" concert at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 1505 White Pine Canyon Rd., on Saturday, Jan. 9, at 1 p.m. The concert is free and open to the public, but donations will be accepted.
"Most of our singers have sung in a high-level collegiate choir and they are mostly professional singers who come from different backgrounds," Nielsen said. "Not all are full-time singers, but they are all skilled musicians and have many years of experience."
Not only are the singers good at what they do professionally, they are caring individuals.
"The thing I love most is the members of Brevitas are all incredible people," Nielsen said. "They aren’t divas. They don’t just clock in and clock out. Instead, they are welcoming, loving and friendly and have a lot heart, and that also means they sing with a lot of heart like they mean it."
The choir is comprised of a core of 36 singers, but is flexible depending on what the music requires.
"Simply put, if we need more singers, we hire more," Nielsen said.
Brevitas, which was founded in July 2013, will present selections by Palestrina, Tavener, Pärt, Mealor and Jackson, according to Nielsen.
"We selected these works because we were initially thinking about performing a Christmas concert," he said. "But everyone is so busy at that time of year. In addition to kids finishing up school and parents planning on traveling, musicians are extremely busy as well, oftentimes performing multiple concerts a day."
So, Nielsen and the choir decided to perform a concert that focuses on Epiphany, a post-Christmas, Catholic holiday, which, according to tradition, was when Christ was brought to the temple as an infant and the magi came to visit.
"There is a lot of post-Christmas music that is still wonderful to hear and perform," Nielsen said.
In selecting the pieces, Nielsen had to make sure the songs fit together in an array of combinations.
"We wanted to make sure the pieces made sense with the overall concert, but also paired well together," he said. "We had to make sure they were in the right keys and that the transitions would be good. There were many iterations, before we came up with the final program."
Nielsen was first drawn to choral music because of its beauty. He also loved singing in a group and appreciated the level of skill that it takes to be in these groups.
"More than anything, I love that there is an idea of family and community," he said.. "We’re all making something together that is greater than ourselves and we can’t do it without each other.
"A choir is one of the best microcosms of the way the world should operate," Nielsen said. "Someone said, ‘If more people would sing together, we wouldn’t have nearly as many problems as we do,’ and I totally agree."
Nielsen received his bachelors degree in music, sound recording technology and a masters in choral conducting from Brigham Young University and is currently on the tail end of his doctorate studies at the University of Southern California.
"I’ve dedicated my life to this art form and one of the things that I have noticed when working with Brevitas is that many audiences are surprised at how much they enjoy the concerts.
"I mean, I will program music that will stretch the audience, but inevitably, someone will come up afterwards and tell me that they don’t typically like that type of music, but [they] love how Brevitas did it," he said.
Last August, Brevitas released its debut album, "Silence and Music." Ralph Vaughan Williams wrote the title track. The CDs will be available for purchase at the Park City concert.
"Like our concerts, we wanted to find music that represented Brevitas today and then put in music that most people haven’t heard before," Nielsen said. "I firmly believe classical and choral music is for everyone. This music is for everyone and hopefully those who think they may not like choral music will find they do. There is something here for everyone."
Brevitas a professional, Utah-based choir, led by Matthew D. Nielsen, will present a free concert at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 1505 White Pine Canyon Rd., on Saturday, Jan. 9, at 1 p.m. For more information, visit http://www.facebook.com/events/176780219332006 .
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Fans of “Sudan and Me,” a musical written, produced and performed in Park City, can now purchase an album of the production’s songs.