Men’s Choir and Mountain Jubilee: Two Octave Tour de Force

He Sang/She Sang.That’s the name of the game for the Salt Lake Men’s Choir’s October concert, in which the guys of Utah’s “Other Choir” will share the stage with the nearly 100-member Mountain Jubilee Chorus, a multiple award-winning barbershop group that routinely makes Utah proud at regional and international competitions. Mountain Jubilee is a member of Sweet Adelines International, an organization of female barbershop groups.

Dennis McCracken, the Men’s Choir’s artistic director, said this “two-octave tour de force” evening came together because of the friendship between him and Mountain Jubilee’s associate director, Beth Bruce. Bruce used to coach the Men’s Choir and McCracken frequently stage manages Mountain Jubilee’s shows.

“We started talking about [a dual concert] last year, that it would be fun to do a show together,” said McCracken. The opportunity finally arose, he said, when Mountain Jubilee placed high enough in their regional competition to attend this year’s international competition in Nashville. The group, he said, didn’t want to put together a big show that would distract from their preparations, so the two choirs decided to make the competition pieces part of the show. Mountain Jubilee will sing their Nashville repertoire and the Men’s Choir will provide an eclectic mix of  “everything from Brahms to Broadway to show tunes, to a gospel piece.”

At the concert’s end, the two groups will combine to perform two barbershop songs written for men and women’s voices: the “Lida Rose” duet from The Music Man and “So Much in Love” from Call Me Madam.

“We’re ending on a Broadway flourish,” said McCracken.

Pati Bouman, Mountain Jubilee’s Team Leader, said that the upcoming concert is a good chance for the choir to perform their pieces in front of an audience.

“It seemed like a prime opportunity to do our show package and competition package on stage with [the men],” she said.

The choir’s 95 members, who Bouman says hail “from Brigham City to Delta, Tooele to Park City,” and are “probably about 75 percent Latter-day Saint,” will perform “From the First Hello to the Last Goodbye” and “After You’ve Gone.” They will also perform their “Red and Blue Show Package,” which makes up the entirety of their second day international performance. The songs in this package are “If I Give My Heart to You,” “Red, Red Robin,” “Blues in the Night” and “Jump Shout Boogie.” The name of the package, said Bouman, comes from the colors mentioned in the songs and the red and blue costumes the Mountain Jubilee women will wear.

Bouman estimates that 32 – 35 Sweet Adelines choruses will compete this year in Nashville out of 700 choruses (and 30,000 members) worldwide. Mountain Jubilee is part of Sweet Adelines International’s Rocky Mountain Region 8 and has taken fourth place three times at international competitions.

After He Sang She Sang, the Men’s Choir will have just one more concert before 2010: their ever-popular Christmas concert. McCracken said that this year’s will feature “everything from pop and jazz to popular stuff to traditional carols and old favorites.”

In March, 2010, the choir will also perform a concert called Family Homo Evening—a pun on Family Home Evening, weekly family-only nights held by several LDS families. The concert will feature such popular Utah Mormon fare as funeral potatoes and, of course, green Jell-o. Sister Dottie S. Dixon, star of the popular KRCL radio program What Not, What Have You, And Such as That will also be on hand to give the evening’s lesson.

As always, the choir is actively looking for more members and is, said McCracken, “consistently getting better and better.”

“They work hard, they really do, and it’s a huge family thing,” he said. “It’s an amazing organization.”

Tickets to He Sang She Sang are $15 general admission and can be purchased through King Tix at (801) 581-7100 or kingtix.com for a lower handling fee. The concert will be held at Libby Garner Hall in the University of Utah’s Presidents Circle on Oct. 3. There will be a matinee performance at 2:00 p.m. and an evening performance at 7:30 p.m.

Visit the Salt Lake Men’s Choir at saltlakemenschoir.org and Mountain Jubilee Chorus at mountainjubileechorus.org.

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