In early January 2017, Sherri Jensen sent out the word that auditions were being held for instrumentalists, vocalists, and soloists. Her goal was to form the Draper Philharmonic & Choral Society (The Society) and to prepare, in time for a concert in April, the challenging master choral work “Lamb of God” by Rob Gardner, which is a profound musical portrayal of the Biblical account of the Easter story.
Musicians from Draper and other communities in Salt Lake and Utah Counties came to join the group and became part of a rare musical phenomenon. In just twelve short weeks, Draper Philharmonic & Choral Society was formed, the music was polished, world-class soloists were retained and the venue was prepared. A truly outstanding production of “Lamb of God” was then presented, in three evening performances, to about 1900 people. The comment most often heard afterwards was, “I had no idea Draper had something as professional as this!”
Immediately following “Lamb of God,” a gala was held in which a feeling of electric enthusiasm prevailed. Sherri Jensen, as founder and artistic director of the Draper Philharmonic & Choral Society, presented her broad vision of music education and participation.
Then work began to prepare The Society’s second concert, “America the Beautiful.” It was during these concert preparations that Draper City granted the Society $35,000 for the purchase of percussion instruments. Draper Philharmonic was able to gratefully showcase these instruments during this concert, held in the Draper Amphitheater. The stirring videos, narration, and dramatizations accompanying the live performance at this concert prompted many heartfelt thanks from veterans and other attendees.
With the momentum gained from two successful concerts, the Draper Philharmonic & Choral Society finalized plans for a fall concert entitled, “Silver Screen Music.” Held in Oct, 2017, this concert featured movie themes and songs that have become classics in the film industry and which have touched people the world over. These selections included favorites such as Star Wars, Jungle Book, Superman, and Singin’ in the Rain. Video segments, dances, and dramatizations again supplemented the music and provided fun, wholesome, musical entertainment. One father commented afterwards that this was the perfect way to introduce his young sons to music performed by a live orchestra.
Another said that he never wanted his family to miss another Society concert.
To finish out its 2017 season, Draper Philharmonic & Choral Society presented a Christmas concert, “King of Kings.” It included beloved Christmas music, narration and dramatizations which centered on the touching story of the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow family and the true meaning of Christmas. A professional musician in attendance commented afterwards, “What a lovely thread linking the songs together with a well-crafted story line. Thank you for a lovely evening.” Another patron commented, “Very well-organized with a wonderful Christmas message and spirit.” And another said, “I love what you are doing and support it full-heartedly.”
Although many had been dubious about the ability of the Society to survive financially, generous donor, corporate sponsor and audience support made it possible for The Society to continue to offer its “Lamb of God” concert as a free Easter gift to the community. In March of 2018, “Lamb of God,” featuring most of the same professional-level soloists as in 2017, was presented on two weekends: first at the beautiful First Presbyterian Church in Salt Lake City then at the Draper Park Middle School.
The enthusiastic responses to this production were very gratifying. They included the following: “It was magnificent!!! What a masterful performance! Orchestra, choir and solos were top performers. Congratulations to the conductor for the whole thing. Thank you so much.” “So very beautiful and inspiring. It moved me to tears.” “Absolutely stunning! Everything about it brought the Spirit and increased testimony of Christ. Such talent!” And, “Impeccable artistry in each voice, solos, choral and orchestral piece! Thank you, Draper Philharmonic & Choral Society! Proud to live in Draper! You represent well!!”