Concert Chronicles Journey West

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As people left the East and moved West, crossing states like Indiana and Texas to the gold country of California, they sang.

"Westward Journey," the Payson Choral Society's Spring concert, showcases the rich history of the music that came from those journeys.

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Stan Langham, Del Bohlmeyer, Ted Prince, Tom Kelly and John Landino get ready to take their audience on a journey West.

Performances will be held at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m., Saturday, in the Payson High School Auditorium.

"The selections not only include the typical ‘cowboy' songs, but also songs that describe the journey itself," said director Daria Mason.

The program will include songs that are familiar and unfamiliar.

"Home on the Range," "Shenandoah" and "Old Dan Tucker" are on the list.

The men of the choir will sing an arrangement of "Clementine."

Mixed among the well-known classics will be songs like "Distant Land," a piece reminiscent of the West that many will not have heard before.

"The other thing that makes this concert so special is a chance to hear our scholarship winners and share their talents," Mason said.

The four teen scholarship recipients are Kalea Donaldson, Heidi Haworth, Kaitie Jones and Kit Buskirk. They will sing Irving Berlin's "Annie Get Your Gun," from the Broadway musical, with several adult members of the choir.

The most interesting song to Mason, as a conductor, is also the most unfamiliar.

"Cloudburst" takes the choir and the audience on a vocal journey through a Southwest monsoon storm.

"Cloudburst" is based on a Native American poem "The Broken Water Jar," translated by Lysander Kank, said choir member John Landino.

"The composer, Eric Whitacre, uses the harmonies, voices, language and instruments the same way a painter would use paints on a blank canvas," Mason said.

Mason must compel the chorus to use all of their vocal and dynamic skills to complete the painting.

"My eighth-grade son, Kit, who is playing the wind chime part, after hearing the last rehearsal said, ‘Interesting' and I think that sums this piece up," she said.

Concert tickets are $8 for adults, $3 for students ages 12 to 18, and free for children ages 11 and under.

Tickets may be purchased in advance from Choral Society members, The Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Payson Roundup, and at the Payson Public Library.

Tickets will also be available at the door before each concert. Proceeds from the concerts provide musical scholarships to middle school and high school students.

These are awarded each year at the spring concert.

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