Salt Lake Men’s Choir loves ‘Remembering Decembers’
What: Salt Lake Men’s Choir, “Remembering Decembers”
When: 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 10
Where: St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 4595 Silver Springs Drive
The Salt Lake Men’s Choir looks forward to spreading some yuletide cheer in Park City next week.
“We love being up there,” said artistic director Dennis McCracken. “We have a lot to offer the people of Park City as far as our music goes.”
The choir will perform the concert, titled “Remembering Decembers,” at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 10, at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 4595 Silver Springs Drive.
“‘Remembering Decembers’ is also a title of a piece we do that is written, composed and arranged by Pinkzebra,” McCracken said.
Pinkzebra is a pen name for a composer and producer who is known for his work on TV, film and commercial scores.
Much like street artist Banksy, no one knows the true identity of Pinkzebra, McCracken said.
“He wanted to do some music from his heart and he didn’t want it to sell because of his popularity, so he came up with the pseudonym,” he said. “‘Remembering Decembers’ is a beautiful piece.”
The song will be one of 18 pieces that include traditional carols, country songs, classical works, sacred and secular tunes, McCracken said.
Some of the fun compositions include “Text Me Merry Christmas” — made famous by Straight No Chaser and Kristen Bell — and Michael W. Smith’s “Gloria.”
McCracken also likes to spotlight works by local composers and arrangers, he said.
“We are performing an arrangement of ‘O, Little Town of Bethlehem,’ by Dan Forrest, whose pieces are always difficult, but also very stunning,” McCracken said. “We are going to sing Charles Black, who is the head of music at St. Paul’s in Salt Lake. He wrote a piece for us several years ago using the words to ‘Some Children See Him.’”
The concert will also include sing alongs with the audience.
“This year marks the 200th anniversary of the writing of ‘Silent Night,’ so we’ll have everyone sing it,” McCracken said. “And we will end with Handel’s ‘Hallelujah Chorus,’ which is always fun when the audience joins us.”
McCracken starts selecting songs in early summer for the Christmas concerts.
“I spend hours gathering and going through music, and I look to see what other choirs have done,” he said. “I usually end up with 50 pieces of music that I would like to do.”
McCracken said the choir could easily perform full concerts of just older Christmas songs or just new Christmas songs.
“There is no event in the history of man that has more music written about it than the Christmas season,” he said. “And while I also know of choirs who don’t sing any religious music at all, I’m fortunate to have such a diverse group that even if some of the boys don’t believe, they will still sing those songs.”
After lining up the 50 songs, McCracken shuffles the list around to see if one song will go well with another, and if all the songs fit with a certain theme.
“I then narrow it down to the 18 pieces we do,” he said. “Once we learn them, I put them in the order I want to perform them. Sometimes I’ll switch things around the week before the concert.”
McCracken said if all goes well, the choir will feature 82 singers during the Park City performance.
“We will be performing other concerts over the weekend before the Park City, which will be our fourth concert that week,” he said.
Still, McCracken said the choir is full of dedicated singers.
“We’re a non-audition choir, and we take any man who walks through our door and wants to sing,” he said. “We have boys who have degrees in vocal performance and they help with each section.”
This year marks the Salt Lake Men’s Choir’s 37th Christmas-concert season, and McCracken is proud of the singers’ legacy.
“Over the years, we really tried to build a family, because of who is in the choir,” he said. “We have fathers, grandfathers, sons, uncles, straight, gay, bisexual and transgender singers. Many of them don’t have close family ties, but they always will in the choir. They all know the choir is a safe place for them. And I think that shows in the music and the way we perform together.”
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