By ASHLEY BAKER
A newly commissioned sacred work by BYU music professor K. Newell Dayley will be performed by Ricks College musicians in the Marriott Center Sunday at 7:30 p.m.
“Immanuel” is the fourth in a series of works commissioned by Ricks College. Dayley said that Ricks College first approached him three years ago, and the work was formally commissioned last year.
“The topic and content were left up to me. It just had to be based on the sacred text,” Dayley said.
The performers include 90 members of the Ricks College Symphony Orchestra and 150 singers who belong to Collegiate Singers and Concert Chorale. They will be led by R. Kevin Call of the Ricks College music faculty.
“They have a fine music program at Ricks,” Dayley said. “The faculty feels like they have a mission and they have high (musical) standards.”
“Immanuel makes me think a lot more about my life and how I am living it,” Thomas Bhock, a member of the Symphony Orchestra, said. “It will give me a greater appreciation for the Atonement and help me understand (the Savior’s) role in the plan of salvation.”
The hour-long composition is divided into 12 movements centered on the life and mission of Jesus Christ.
Dayley said the most difficult part of composing “Immanuel” was selecting the text.
“First of all, we have a lot of scriptures. (In this type of a piece) composers frequently juxtapose things that don’t go together doctrinally. I have tried to create a consistent doctrinal thread through this piece,” Dayley said.
The second challenge is to make the music fit the text.
“The music must take on a form that has a consistent style and voice. You can’t just tie a bunch of pieces together,” Dayley said.
“Finally, the music and text must fit together.”
Dayley said that by combining the text of the scriptures with music, spiritual learning is accelerated.
“Many times when we read the scriptures we do not understand. When we hear them put to music, we feel them. Elder Packer said that you learn a lot faster when you combine the feeling and learning process together,” and he was inspired by it, Dayley said.
Dayley said the pattern for works like “Immanuel” goes back to the Baroque era and Bach’s cantatas and Handel’s oratorios, which were large- scale pieces based on a religious theme.
Dayley is well known for his hymns “Lord I Would Follow Thee” and “I Feel My Savior’s Love.”
Commenting on what he felt people should take away from the performance, Dayley said, “(First) I would hope profound appreciation for the Atonement, second a greater appreciation for who Christ really was, and third a greater hope in your destiny.”