Hillcrest’s Vocal Ensemble records at BYUFeb 03, 2022 03:23PM ● By Julie Slama
In December, Hillcrest High School’s Vocal Ensemble recorded three songs at Brigham Young University, which were aired later on KBYU Radio. (Photo courtesy of Amy Wareham)
By Julie Slama | [email protected]
Hillcrest High School’s Vocal Ensemble had to wait two years to be able to accept a special invitation to record at Brigham Young University.
“It was a really special invitation we got two years ago, the summer before COVID-19—and then with COVID, they canceled it,” Hillcrest High choir director RaNae Dalgleish said. “They honored it this year, for those choirs who were invited across the state to come and record and put that recording in front of a judge.”
While the Huskies didn’t win in the form of taking first place, Dalgleish said they won in having that experience.
“I can tell you these kids—what a way to start the season. They had an incredible learning experience. We got to record three songs and they aired the recording three times,” she said. “I had friends come up to me and say, ‘We heard your choir on the radio today.’ How cool is that?”
The Vocal Ensemble also got to learn how to record versus perform live.
“Singing in front of microphones is completely different and recording than doing it live—microphones and recordings don’t lie. The microphones pick up every single detail and the recording has it immortalized. It’s forever and never goes away,” Dalgleish said, adding that she will share the recordings with her choir.
While Dalgleish doesn’t know how the Huskies got selected to come, she was impressed with others who were invited.
“They were all top-notch, and their recordings were beautiful,” she said.
This past holiday season, Hillcrest’s 24-member Vocal Ensemble gave about 15 community performances, each about 30 minutes in length.
Students audition in the spring for Vocal Ensemble and then, throughout the year, perform a variety of music from classical and Renaissance to Broadway and pop; most also sing in an a cappella choir. In addition to school and holiday performances, the choirs typically tour. This spring, choir students are planning to compete in the Heritage Festival in Orlando.
“Typically, during the holidays, we give up to 40 performances, some are a smaller scale, but since there are still some COVID restrictions, such as at seniors centers, we weren’t able to go everywhere,” Dalgleish said about her 16th year having her students give outreach performances. “This year, there was something really special about it. I think it came with our COVID break last year that this year, we’re so appreciative and humbled that we can do it again.”
They were able to perform at Jordan Valley, a school that serves students who have severe multiple disabilities.
“I like taking the show to audiences that might not ever get to chance to come to our school, so this is my way of spreading light and joy of music though the community,” she said. “I was watching the kids at Jordan Valley just come alive and bouncing in their seats—that was really fun. And it’s such a joy to watch my students who may never have been around the elderly or those at Primary Children’s (Hospital) or the Ronald McDonald House. They’re enthusiastic and excited to sing and bring that joy.”
This year’s Vocal Ensemble performed at the capitol, a place where Dalgleish said is a “treasure.”
“Singing in the rotunda is absolutely incredible; it’s an experience the kids never forget. The echoing and reverb and the sound of the voices—I saw one cute girl and tears were streaming down her face. It is such an incredible experience,” she said. “When we were going on the bus and they asked, ‘Who are we singing for today at the capitol?’ They were shocked when I said, ‘I had no idea.’ Sometimes, we’ve sung to nobody, but I tell them, ‘It’s my gift to you’ and they understand when they begin to sing.”
Much to Dalgleish’s surprise, as the group began to sing this year, Gov. Spencer Cox and others stopped to enjoy the performance.
“It was so, so sweet. He was delightful and thanked the kids for bringing the Christmas spirit up there. It made it really special,” she said, adding that he was going to send an autographed photo of him with the choir.
The final impromptu concert the choir gave was in the classrooms at Hillcrest itself.
It was Dec. 17, the last school day before winter break, and the feeling at the school was “tense” after a TikTok threat on social media threatened harm to students at numerous high schools nationwide.
“It was such a sad day; they canceled our assembly because of the TikTok threat, and everything was so depressing,” Dalgleish said. “Half the school was gone because of that, and I actually had all but two of my students come to call and I said, ‘I think this school needs some cheer.’ So, we took the piano and rolled it up the hall—and it was completely impromptu—and we moved that piano from floor to floor, caroled in classrooms, in the front office and in a breezeway above the lunchroom. We just broke into song and the kids were looking like, ‘Whoa, what’s going on?’ before breaking into smiles. It brought some happiness and joy to the school that day. Music is such a gift—a gift of light and happiness and it was just the perfect way to end the season.”