Members of the American Festival Chorus and Orchestra sing along to “This Land is Your Land,” one of the songs the group will perform virtually for their Veterans Day concert in 2020.
LOGAN – After a hard-fought political season and restrictions placed on the county to fight a major heath epidemic it might be time to lay differences aside and be reminded of the people that make America the Home of the Brave and the Land of the Free.
Using modern technology, Dr. Craig Jessop, founder of the American Festival Chorus and Orchestra (AFC), found a way to have people listen and enjoy powerful choral music even during a pandemic. They have scheduled two virtual concerts. The first one is a free Veterans Day Concert on Nov. 11, at 7:30 p.m.
The second is the Christmas Concert scheduled for Dec. 17, 18 and 19 at 7:30 p.m.
Jessop is a patriot himself. He served in the Armed Services from 1979 until 1995 directing different musical groups while serving in the U.S. Air Force.
“I have a deep love for America and the men and women who serve in the military whose service is sometimes forgotten,” the AFC founder said. “They are amazing patriots and we want to honor them at our concert.”
He said there are also amazing patriots right here in our valley and he wanted to highlight them as well.
“We will honor our local heroes, the policemen, postal workers, medical workers working on COVID, the food pantry volunteers and others,” Jessop said. “Our video is the tip of the of the iceberg of the kind of show we have planned.”
The all-volunteer chorus held their first concert in 2008 as a Veterans Day program and they’ve had a concert to honor veterans every year after. And conductor Jessop was not going to let a world pandemic stop them this year.
“For this concert, choir members videoed themselves using their cell phones and we went out and videoed some of the guest performers and put them together for a virtual choir,” Jessop said. “We didn’t get together to practice; we were COVID aware.”
The rehearsals were zoomed audio files and they have some amazing shots. The visuals with the music make it a multi-media extravaganza.
“This will be an amazing show,” he said. “The people of Cache Valley should feel pretty good about themselves after watching the concert.”
In the promotional video of the choir performing “This Land is Your Land,” written in 1940 by folk singer Woody Gutherie they have included many notable Cache Valley citizens singing along at their homes, places of employment or other areas as part of the music.
Lyle Hillyard and his wife Alice, Logan Mayor Holly Daines, Cache Visitors Bureau Director Julie Hollist Terrill and even Michael Ballam are among the recognizable people who make appearances in the video.
This year’s concert will also feature the USU Women’s Choir, Utah State University ROTC members and the Cache Children’s Choir.
Since the choir was formed in 2008 by the former Mormon Tabernacle Choir Director they have performed a variety of music programs from Salt Lake to Sun Valley, ID and small towns in between.
The choir and orchestra have spread a varied, rich and vibrant musical repertoire ranging from opera to pops as well as seasonal programs for Christmas and other holidays.