May 2: Salem, Oregon

Three hours of driving through lush, beautiful, tree-covered hills—we’d love to take a little of this back to Utah with us! One expressway we passed was called “Enchanted;” that sums up the Pacific Northwest. This may be our last day above 70 degrees and without a chance of rain, so we enjoyed it to the fullest.The first thing on the agenda this afternoon was a clinic at South Salem High School with their acclaimed choir and their director, Carol Stenson. This choir deserves all the praise that preceded them, and they obviously have a great conductor as well as a strong program district-wide! They are in final preparations for State competitions next week, so they performed 3 of their 4 pieces and Dr. Staheli worked with them on each. Their “Os justi” of Bruckner blew us away! They listened well and applied all they were taught, so it was an hour well spent. We enjoyed hearing their performance of our own Matt Nielsen’s “Everyone Sang.” BYU Singers ended with a couple of their own pieces; their “Lux aurumque” never sounded better.

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South Salem HS performing Bruckner’s “Os Justi.”

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A little coaching.

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Singers take their turn performing.

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Sharing ideas later.

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Dr. Staheli with South Salem HS Symphonic Choir

We had one hour free before we were due back at the high school for concert preparations, so everyone found something fun or relaxing to do along the Willamette River. So, so incredibly beautiful! Many trees and flowers are blooming; I just want to take them home. We have driven through the historic district a couple of times now, and the homes are positively charming. Many of us think we could live here happily. Of course, there is blue sky today…

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A beautiful church we kept driving by.

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The Willamette River

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Paddle boat on the Willamette.

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Beauty.

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The colors!

Then we were back to the high school for some concert prep, a delicious dinner prepared by the culinary students at the high school, and then some glamorizing before the concert. We had been warned that not many tickets had been sold, so we were prepared to sing well no matter what, since those who came would know choral music and appreciate the concert. One of those miracles occurred, and the audience just kept coming. The main floor was nearly full, with people in the balcony as well.

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The choir sang much of their classic repertoire, and most of the Home section of the program. This old high school started as a middle school in the 1920s, then had a high school portion added on in the 1950s –  the two were combined into a large high school in the 1990s (I think.) The auditorium isn’t fancy, but my goodness it has incredible acoustics! It was a joy to sing in, and so wonderful to hear the choir’s singing in that hall. Most of the high school students from this afternoon’s clinic came to the concert; we enjoyed visiting with them and hearing their reactions. We were also pleased to see alumni JaneAnn Peterson there, as well as Erika McCauley, who has been instrumental in planning both the first concert and this one. Every tour needs an Erika.

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“Hi, babe!”

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This was a near-perfect day of tour. (Something must have gone wrong for someone, so I’m allowing for that possibility.) We will always have a soft spot in our heart for Salem and the great appreciation they have for choral music—and for the welcome they gave to BYU Singers.