CEDAR CITY – Iron County singers created a rich blend of harmonies and melodies during The Red Rock Singers’ inaugural choral performance, “La Passegiata,” on May 16 at Southern Utah University’s Thorley Recital Hall.
The new choir, conducted by SUU Music Department Chair Dr. Keith Bradshaw, is a “mix of 30 voices from all around Iron County,” Bradshaw explained as the group began its first performance as a new choir. Bradshaw set the stage by promising to take listeners on a “musical excursion.”
The singers started their musical journey in Italy with a 500-year-old piece entitled “La Passagiata” by composer Gioacchino Rossini and then moved onto madrigal pieces that emphasized English, French and even American madrigal style songs.
There are a few groups in Iron County that specialize in Madrigal style music, which was the equivalent to pop music in the Renaissance period in England and Europe. The lyrics were often based on poetry and were usually performed a cappella and in polyphonic texture. Madrigal singers popularized the musical technique “word painting.”
As the Red Rock Singers built the blending of their voices to the crest of a wave that then made its decrescendo in a sweet layering of basses, tenors, altos and sopranos, it was obvious that although this is a new choir, the participants are no novices to musical talent. They portrayed the madrigal’s word painting technique in a beautiful rendition that was certainly worthy of this musical art form.
With 12 pieces that included a variety of traditional music and spiritualist music, they provided an interesting array that included classic choral pieces like a “Red, Red Rose” and boisterous pieces like “Zion’s Walls” by Aaron Copland. Their spiritualist portion of the program brought in some drums and the bass with Norman Luboff’s arrangement of “Steal Away.”
At the helm of this choir are some master musicians. Bradshaw’s resume reads like a musician’s dream and includes a Ph.D from the University of Utah, current chair of the Music Department at SUU and Composer in Residence with Orchestra of Southern Utah. His compositions have been performed across the nation and internationally in China, Spain and England.
Accompanist Tracey Bradshaw’s talents have been used as an opera coach and accompanist for the opera program at BYU and with the BYU singers as well as on tour with Jenny Oaks Baker.
Assistant conductor, Dr. Steve Meredith, is currently the director of choral activities and coordinator of musical technology for SUU.
As a vocal performer, this bass has worked with well-known musical groups such as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Utah Symphony Opera and more. Internationally, his work has been heard with the international tour of Star Wars Live, Josh Groban, IMAX and more.
The Red Rock Singers have just begun their musical journey in Southern Utah. They are sure to stun music lovers as their performances continue. They are looking to grow their numbers and will hold auditions June 2 and June 9 from 6:30 to 6:50 p.m. in the SUU Music Building. Their fall concert is scheduled for Sept. 12.