WEST POINT — Every year as the holidays approach, the West Point Junior High School Madrigals pile on a bus and head to Salt Lake City to perform at Temple Square. This year, as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, the choir was forced to record its Christmas performance in a classroom.
The Madrigals at West Point Junior High is one of four choirs from the Davis School District that is listed on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint’s website as having been selected to perform in its annual “The Christmas Collection” concert series. Others include a group from Bountiful Junior High School, another from Clearfield High School and the Farmington High School Chamber Choir.
Because the series went virtual this year, musical acts from around the world submitted performances, which Madrigals Director Lori Hayward said made the ensemble’s selection a much bigger accomplishment.
“We were actually surprised to be selected, especially because we were just a little junior high,” Hayward said.
The choir’s performance of “Deck the Halls 50’s,” which streamed on Dec. 2, was learned in just three days.
The junior high school left a hybrid schedule Nov. 2. So up until two weeks before the deadline for submissions on Nov. 15, Madrigals were meeting only once a week. Because of the group’s lack of practice time, Hayward said, they almost didn’t submit their performance.
All of the students came to the school on a Friday — an off-day in the Davis School District — to film the submission. The finished product was a video of masked singers, some of whom donned Santa hats. While this one was no exception, Hayward said all of the group’s performances have been somewhat extraordinary this year.
The fall choir concert at West Point Junior High School was replaced with a sequence of silly student-made music videos, Hayward said. The school’s annual winter concert, which coincidentally landed on the same night as the Madrigal’s “The Christmas Collection” performance broadcast, was described by Hayward as a “drive-by” concert. One choir sang at a time while only parents watched. As soon as each group left, seats were sanitized in preparation for the next.
“It’s been really different,” Hayward said, commenting on directing a choir in the midst of a pandemic “We’re performing separated and masked, and we’re not working a lot on things like facial expressions. It’s harder to hear your neighbor and the harmonies.”
One of the ninth graders in Hayward’s Madrigals is Kristian Bingham. While he said the masks have been an inconvenience as he’s participated in choir this year, he has been most disappointed that the choir hasn’t been able to travel as it has in years past.
When the West Point Junior High Madrigals were selected for “The Christmas Collection,” he said he was thrilled to do something out of the ordinary in a pandemic-stifled school year.
“Personally, it was a really humbling experience because we’ve been working on those songs and trying to find time to get together as a choir to be able to sing together, so to be able to participate in something that was going around the world … was really awesome,” Bingham said.
Hayward said Brigham’s class is an especially talented group of ninth graders. She had been waiting for them to reach Madrigal-age since they were in seventh grade but was disappointed they wouldn’t have the same opportunities this year as older groups.
The group’s admission to “The Christmas Collection,” Hayward said, provided some consolation.
“I was sad that they were missing out on so many things, so to have them do one little extra performance was such a thrill for us,” she said.