By JULIA OLSEN
BYU audiences love Mack Wilberg.
The entire audience stood to applaud Wilberg, the BYU Concert Choir and the Utah Symphony for Wednesday’s excellent performance in the de Jong Concert Hall of the Harris Fine Arts Center.
Wilberg conducted the choir and orchestra through a variety of challenging religious pieces.
The impressive choir was accompanied by selected members of the Utah Symphony.
The showering applause after the first selection, George Frideric Handel’s “Utrecht Jubilate,” foreshadowed the course of the evening.
The first half of the program was the better of the two.
Besides Handel, the choir and orchestra also performed Gustav Holst’s arrangement of Psalms 86 and 148.
Wilberg and the performers handled “Utrecht Jubilate” with outstanding magnificence.
The orchestra neither overshadowed nor underplayed their responsibility. Together, the choir and the orchestra was a marriage in harmony.
Handel’s masterpiece in itself has a powerful message, much like his “Messiah,” and the performance only added to it.
The soloists chosen for the parts in “Be ye sure that the Lord He is God” and “For the Lord is gracious: Adagio” perfectly complimented one another.
The choir continued, in powerful supplication, with Psalms 86 and 148.
Through the two selections, Wilberg displayed his control and the performers willingly followed.
Psalm 86, peaceful and prayer-like, was contrasted by the gradual crescendo of Psalm 148, in the familiar tune of “All Creatures of Our God and King.”
The second-half of the program was like traveling from the golden mean in Greece to visual pollution in modern art.
Call me a traditionalist.
Leonard Bernstein’s composition, “Chichester Psalms,” was a practice in discordant sounds, interjected with some beautiful harmony.
The most impressive part of the program was the soloist in “Chichester Psalms.”
Michael Denos is a 12-year-old boy soprano who has more talent in his little pinky than I have in my whole body.
The native Utahn has traveled and performed extensively throughout Europe and is destined for a bright future, if he can recover after puberty.
Regardless of his future, Denos sung beautifully.
The finale was “Four Hymns in a Popular Style” arranged by John Gardner.
In a previous review of the Concert Choir I expressed my disdain for the “popular” treatment of hymns.
This performance, however, has made me see the error of my ways.
Besides “Nearer my God to Thee,” which I still disliked, the other hymns were fine.
Actually, “Savior, Again to Thy Dear Name We Raise,” was excellent.
I stand corrected.
Overall, during the performance the choir displayed professionalism, but it was lacking somewhat between songs.
The conductor, orchestra and choir treated the music with care and emotion.
The standing ovation was well-deserved and earned by all that contributed to the performance.
Wilberg is awesome at communicating, to both the choir and audience, his control over and love for the music he directs.
For those who regret missing the performance, it will be repeated tonight at Peery’s Egyptian Theater in Ogden. Call (801) 399-9214 for ticket information.