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WSU choirs put on Winter Choirfest

Weber State University’s chamber and concert choirs came together to hold their Winter Choirfest performance on Wednesday night. The choir members’ voices filled the space with the aid of a specially created microphone system that hangs from the ceiling.

Chamber choir president Arianne Hellewell said WSU alumnus Ray Kimber deserves the credit for creating this feature.

“He designed that to capture sound in a really detailed way,” Hellewell said. “And then all that wood staging is specially engineered to make our sound gel together. It’s been one of the best things about this concert in particular. They’ve been working on that for paneling and the ceiling for a long time, years and years. Every concert, he’s fine-tuning it and tweaking it to be the best acoustically that it can be.”

Hellewell said the most well-attended choir concerts are their Christmas concerts.

“We don’t get the attendance at our concerts that we’d like, but we hope to change that,” she said.

Choir director Mark Henderson chose the songs for this concert.

“(He) spends a lot of time planning out the program,” said Brett Cragun, concert choir president and geography major.

Henderson also spent time discussing the program with his students.

“Dr. Henderson is really thorough with what he does with his pieces,” Hellewell said. “Like ‘Choose Something Like a Star’, he took 10-15 minutes out of a class period to talk us through the ideas and the concepts that are behind that song. Same thing with gospel numbers. He does a lot research into how they’re sung and how the style of a particular group of where it’s from influences the way that we sing it.”

According to Cragun, each concert is individually crafted, sometimes with components of the concerts containing a theme. For example, the number “All My Trials” originated in the Bahamas. This origin became part of how Henderson approached and conducted the piece. Wednesday’s performance had several thematic groupings, including a section of songs from “Alice in Wonderland,” a section of folk songs and another of soulful spirituals, the latter of which all featured at this year’s Gospelfest as well.

“Our choir concerts are so different,” Hellewell said. “They have so much character to them — like today when Dr. Henderson got up and talked about ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ Our concerts have so much personality. I love doing them.”

Another combined choir performance is slated for April 4.

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