Park City Singers celebrate its 25th anniversary holiday season |

Park City Singers celebrate its 25th anniversary holiday season

Two concerts feature guest singer and new accompanist

Park City Singer’s 2022 Christmas Concerts

  • When: 7 p.m. Dec. 9 and Dec. 10
  • Where: 4501 N. S.R. 224
  • Cost: $15 for general admission; $5 for children 11 and younger
  • Web:
The Park City Singers will celebrate its 25th holiday concert season with two performances, Dec. 9 and 10, at Park City Community Church.
Photo by Jill Orschel

After taking the 2020 and 2021 holiday seasons off due to pandemic concerns, the Park City Singers are back in full force this year for two live and in-person concerts at the Park City Community Church.

Not so coincidentally, these two concerts, scheduled for 7 p.m. on Dec. 9 and 10. will also commemorate the non-audition community choir’s 25th season, said alto Mary Gootjes.

“The anniversary was supposed to happen two years ago, because the choir started in 1995, but we skipped the past two years,” she said. 

Joe Demers, who came on board as choir director in 2016, is honored to be part of the singers’ milestone.

There were so many who have come out of the woodwork and said they wanted to be a part of this.” Joe Demers, Park City Singers director

“It’s amazing to be a part of this, and we have more new people than I can remember in my tenure here,” he said. “I think people really missed us, and people were really excited about the prospect of getting together and singing in-person again. There were so many who have come out of the woodwork and said they wanted to be a part of this.”

This year’s choir boasts more than 50 singers, said Gootjes, who has been with the Park City Singers for 13 years.

“We were just thrilled to see all the people show up for our first rehearsal in September,” she said. “And a couple of them are very high-caliber singers and musicians, which helps us other recreational singers.”

Not only are the soprano and alto sections strong, the tenor and bass sections are the best Demers has ever heard.

“Male voices are always hard to find, but these singers are strong, and I’d say this is the most balanced choir I’ve had to direct,” he said.

Joe Demers, who began his tenure as the Park City Singers director in 2016, said he is honored to be part of the local choir’s 25th anniversary season.
Photo by Jill Orschel

The strong voices lend themselves to this year’s program, which is a holdback from last year’s canceled season, according to Demers.

The night will open with “It’s the Holiday Season,” made famous by crooner Andy Williams in 1963, Demers said.

“We also have Kay Thompson’s ‘Jingle Bells,” another song Andy Williams sang, that will start off the second half of the evening,” he said. 

The performance will also feature a new piece, “That Time of the Year,” which Demers heard while watching the Disney featurette, “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure.”

“I really liked it, because it talks about traditions,” he said. “At first it was very difficult because there were so many words. It was like a tongue twister, and many of the singers expressed concerns that they wouldn’t be able to do it. But they all got into the groove.”

The concerts will also include a break-out work, “Slow Dancing in the Snow,” that will be performed by seven women from the choir.

Two Jewish works, “Light One Candle” and “Bashana Haba’ah,” will also be part of the program, Demers said.

“Light One Candle” was originally written by Peter Yarrow and recorded by his trio, Peter, Paul and Mary, Demers said. 

“It’s a song that talks about the Maccabees and the persecution of the Jews,” he said. ”And 

‘Bashana Haba’ah,’ a piece with music by Nurit Hirsch and lyrics by Ehud Manor, is also a powerful song.”

The audience will get a chance to sing with the choir on three songs — “Deck the Halls,” “Joy to the World,” and “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” Gootjes said.

“We will hand out music to the audience when they come in,” she said.

Katy Lillqust is Park City Singers’ new accompanist. She is known for her work as music director of the Park City Follies.
Photo by Jill Orschel

This year’s concerts will also feature a guest, B. Murphy, who was part of The Platters in the 1970s.

Murphy will sing two pieces, accompanied by his own pianist, Deron Hutchinson, according to Demers.

“The first song he’ll sing will be ‘The Christmas Song,’ and the second will be a Temptations montage of ‘Silent Night,’” he said.

“Silent Night” will feature a few soloists from the Park City Singers, said Demers, who met Murphy during the last Park City Singers concert before the pandemic. 

The choir’s former accompanist Tanya Taylor wrote a song called “Merry Christmas” that featured Murphy on vocals.

Taylor had met Murphy through his son Vegaz Taelor, whom she worked with on her musical “Sudan and Me,” about the Lost Boys of Sudan.

“B. taught it to us and conducted it for us, because he helps people learn how to sing gospel,” Gootjes said. “The cool thing is he doesn’t use music when he teaches, because he teaches by ear.”

That method is different from what the singers are used to, Demers said.

“B. came and spent a good chunk of time teaching us the song, and then came back the following week,” he said. “Some of the comments I initially heard from some of the singers was that they weren’t going to be able to learn the song because there was no music. But they actually did remember, because he’s very good at infusing the repetition and the layering of the different voices.”

Speaking of accompanists, this year marks the Park City Singers debut of Katy Lillquist, who is known for her work as music director for the Park City Follies, Demers said.

“She’s been amazing, and we work well together,” he said. “We have talked endlessly through emails, texts and on the phone about tempos. After each rehearsal, we reevaluate and she works on the songs throughout the week and comes back for the next rehearsal ready to go.”

Gootjes is looking forward to spreading some in-person holiday cheer this year, especially for the 25th anniversary season.

“I think it means so much, especially when we had so many new singers join this year,” she said. “It feels like this group will continue being strong and being a part of our community.”

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