The Beginnings of the Utah Baroque Ensemble

The Utah Baroque Ensemble had its beginnings in a small group of dedicated people with a love for the choral music by Bach. In 1986 Dil Parkinson, Nels and Andrea Draper, Tina Fairweather, Dan Gawthrop, and Bob Tate met as members of the “Bach Choir” directed by Doug Bush.

After Bach Choir disbanded, the same small group met and decided to form another choir called “Pro Vocale” (a little “Latin” riff on Provo and Vocal). Along with the Jan and Steve Stanfill they performed their first concerts in October 1986. Soon afterwards when Andrea and Tina both gave birth that Fall, they realized that eight people was not enough to maintain a full working choir.  They hoped to attract more people to the choir and thought of conductors they might recruit as well. They considered two possibilities; Mack Wilberg and Martha Sargent, who had recently received a Masters of Choral Conducting. Tina Fairweather had known Martha from her time as a member of the seasonal Christmas Chorus that Martha still directs.

In 1987 the group met with Martha and worked out the details of a new choir and agreed on a strong Bach element to be called the Utah Baroque Ensemble (UBE). After its formation, the choir immediately began to grow. The original members of the UBE included Elaine Craig, Diane Wilde, Nels and Andrea Draper, Bob Tate, and Dil Parkinson. The first UBE organist was Walter Whipple. He was followed by Kasen James, Joan Stevens, Neil Harmon, Marcos Krieger, Andrew Unsworth, and Diane Kellar. Jerri Bearce, who followed Dianne, played for several seasons and then took a hiatus. Kevin Walker accompanied the choir during Jerri’s absence. Jerri’s wonderful run as the UBE organist was followed by Levente Medveczky, Nora Hess, Sheri Peterson, Anna Judkins, Taryn Harding, and James Welch.  In 2022, Walter Whipple returned once more to take the position of organist.

The UBE’s first concert was held at Zion’s Lutheran Church on Foothill Drive in Salt Lake City. The program was as follows:

  • Shoot, False Love, I Care Not
  • Mon Coeur Se Recommande a Vous
  • Rest, Sweet Nymphs
  • Weep, O Mine Eyes
  • Flora, Gave Me Fairest Flowers
  • Sanctus in D
  • Herr, Ich Habe Leib Die Statte
  • Domine, Ad Adjuvandum Me Festina
  • Magnificat no. 13
  • That Virgin’s Child
  • Hodie Christus Natus Est
  • Sans Day Carol
  • Personent Hodie
  • Adam Lay Ybounden
  • Past Three o’clock
  • The Lord is My Shepherd

The choir has since grown to around 35 members and has performed not only in Utah, but in Europe as well.

Venues include:

  • Anaheim, California (Spring 1996). The choir auditioned and was chosen out of many choirs to sing for the ACDA.
  • Germany and Czechoslavakia (Spring of 2001)
  • England and Wales. (Spring 2005)  The tour included a performance in London’s including St. Paul’s Cathedral.

  • Italy and Switzerland. (Spring 2008) The choir performed a  Mass in the Vatican.
  • Collaborated with Dr. Todd Britsch from the BYU College of Humanities for his emeritus lecture titled “The Gospel of John and the Arts.” (2011)
  • Utah. Performances in Utah have included the Cathedral of the Madeline, St. Mark’s Cathedral and the Assembly Hall in Salt Lake City. Also at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Orem and St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Provo.
  • East Germany (Summer of 2018) The choir performed in cathedrals and churches where Johann Sebastian Bach worked as Kapellmeister as well as three LDS stake centers. The choir gave concerts and performed in church services at St. Thomas and St. Nikolai churches in Leipzig and in churches in Weimar, Freiburg, Dresden, and Meissen.

The choir has performed for events such as Interchoir Festivals under conductors Mack Wilberg and Craig Jessop in 2001 and 2002, Habitat for Humanity in 2005, the Freedom Flag Ceremony in 2006 and the Orem festival for the past several summers.

For each concert the choir has performed a main piece by Bach (see attached for complete list) and other sacred and spiritual pieces.  UBE has also performed some original works by David Sargent.

Each Christmas the choir has the tradition of singing Christmas carols at the Orem City Library at the beginning of December. This has become quite a popular event and includes two performances and a sing-a-long with the audience.