The Grand Theatre Blogs

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The History and Making of the Annual Celebration of the Messiah - Behind the Scenes with Grand Voices

It's the final technical rehearsal of the 9th Annual Community Celebration of the Messiah at The Grand Theatre. B Murphy, co-conductor and co-creator of this production, happily greets Grand Voice choir members as they enter the theater. Not only is there great respect for Murphy, but there is also great friendship and camaraderie.

Respect for Murphy is well-deserved. Murphy has a rich, musical past. He began singing gospel at a young age. In the 70s he toured as a member of The Platters, whose hits include "The Great Pretender," "Only You (and You Alone)," and "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes." Touring with The Pretenders brought Murphy to Utah. In 1978 he moved to Utah and began his solo career. He has directed many choirs, and when he's not spending time co-conducting the Grand Voices, he is commuting to his job in Washington DC.

Murphy is especially proud of this production. He was integral in creating this special celebration of Handel's Messiah back in 2002. Working closely with Deron Hutchinson and Lyle Archibald, he helped craft the sound of this modern, soulful adaptation of a beloved holiday tradition. Not only does Murphy co-conduct the Grand Voices, he works with the choir members in teaching them the energetic and upbeat gospel sound that delight audience members from year to year.

"The most rewarding aspect of this production is the bonds that have been formed amongst choir members and musicians. We have choir members from over seven counties that come together to make Grand Voices. Many of them have created lifelong friendships," Murphy says.

Marie Estrada joined Grand Voices this Fall. "I have encountered a level of professionalism I would have never imagined from such a large group of volunteers." Estrada commutes from Layton to rehearse with the choir and looks forward to participating in Grand Voices for future productions.

Kevin Mathie, arranger and associate producer, has been involved with this annual production for the past six years. He not only works behind the scenes arranging several musical numbers and coordinating the band, but he also played keys in the band for the past four years. "The Messiah is a fun program. It's so different from traditional musical theatre in that with this production, it's all about this music," Mathie says.

Murphy's enthusiasm about this production is apparent. "It's a performance; it's a ministry; it's a celebration!" says Murphy about this 9th Annual Community Celebration of Messiah. "Don't miss it! Many audience members tell me how they've made the Community Celebration of the Messiah part of their Christmas tradition, and I couldn't be happier."

The 9th Annual Community Celebration of the Messiah runs December 10, 11 & 13 at 7:30pm at The Grand Theatre. This production of Handel's Messiah at The Grand Theatre features a full band and the Grand Voices, a choir of over 80 voices, with special guest soloists and narrators. Guest soloists include Ginger Bess, Anise Perry-Drisdom, Carey Drisdom, Dee-Dee Darby Duffin, Kelly Griffiths, Detorea Oliver, and Bruce Williams.

Special guest narrators include: (Friday) Melissa Adams & Lonzo Liggins of the Etta Grace Black Theatre Company; (Saturday) Tom Goldsmith, Reverend of the First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake, and Rita Martin, Grand Theatre Board Member and community activist; and (Monday) Dr. Marlin Clark, Dean of Students at Salt Lake Community College, and Marian Howe-Taylor, Community Outreach Manager at Salt Lake Community College.

The Grand Theatre is located at 1575 S. State Street on Salt Lake Community College’s South City Campus. Tickets start at $8 and are available online at or by calling the box office at 801-957-3322.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Handel's Messiah, A 9th Annual Community Celebration - A Modern Twist on Handel's Classic Holiday Oratorio

This modern twist on one of classical music's most cherished and well-known compositions is returning to Salt Lake City for only three days this holiday season. While other versions are typically done as a standard sing along, this production of Handel's Messiah at The Grand Theatre features Grand Voices, a choir of over 80 voices, with special guest soloists and narrators. Guest soloists include Ginger Bess, Kelly Griffiths, Bruce Williams, Dee-Dee Darby Duffin, Anise Drisdom, Carey Drisdom, and Detorea Oliver.

"We are excited to bring back this celebration and reinvention of Handel's beloved Messiah for the 9th year. Handel's baroque style has be completely reinterpreted and transformed into a lively R&B, gospel, and jazz infused concert experience that will delight and surprise all ages," says Richard Scott, Executive Artistic Director of The Grand Theatre. "Audience members will be treated to the familiar solos and chorus numbers with narration interspersed throughout the evening. The original intent of this beautiful oratorio still stands while this new adaptation creates an invigorating variation on Handel's masterful themes."

Murphy, Deron Hutchinson, and Detorea Oliver direct the Grand Voices along with a full jazz band. Members from choirs across Utah have come together to create Grand Voices. These choirs include St. John the Baptist, Gurtar Group, Golden Voices, St. Stephen’s, New Zion Baptist Choir, Calvary Choir, Hilltop Gospel, Utah Gospel Workshop, Unity Baptist Choir, and the Christian Life Center Praise Team.

Performances dates: December 10, 11 & 13, 2010
Times: Evening performances 7:30pm
Location: The Grand Theatre, 1575 South State Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84115
Tickets: Prices range from $8.00 to $24.00 with discounts for groups, seniors, and students available.
Reservations: 801-957-3322 801-957-3322 or online at
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