The Hills and Valley Are Alive With Music
There is a certain excitement before a concert begins. It starts with the rustle of chairs being moved. Next comes the trill of an oboe; soon followed by some strings and a final flourish of the timpani. The lights dim, maestro Heather Thaxton arrives, and a baton is raised. For a brief moment there is quiet anticipation… nothing but anticipation. Suddenly, the magic begins.
Heber Valley Choir and Orchestra has been making magic with their music in the valley since 2014. Since then, this all volunteer 65-plus-member non-profit choir and orchestra has more than quadrupled in size from its initial founding members. The musicians range from age 12 to 86 and come from nearly every corner of Wasatch County.
“Watching the HVCO grow over the past five years has been one of the most rewarding payoffs for me,” former HVCO President Stacey Eaton declared. “Musicians show up because they love practicing and performing music together — doing so can evoke AMAZING feelings.” Eaton now serves as the orchestra’s librarian and concert master, as Jen Stockett took the reigns of orchestra president in 2019.
Music in the Valley
Throughout the years, the organization has played with a diverse lineup of headline acts including Alex Boye, Michael Martin Murphy and Riders in the Sky, as well as Suzy Bogguss at Heber Valley’s annual Western Music and Cowboy Poetry Gathering. In addition, HVOC has played at JR Smith in the March “Music in Our Schools” program and performed “A Christmas Day” with the Wasatch High School Choir.
One of the choir and orchestra’s most known performances in the valley is the annual “Messiah Sing-In.” During two performances every December, magic is made as the audience becomes part of the choir and voices of all types are raised in one of the community’s most beloved musical works.
Annually, HVOC also performs two benefit concerts which support the local “Shop with a Cop” Christmas program. To date, over $3,500 has been raised, which was given to the Heber Police Department and benefitted 11 children in 2018.
HVCO Goes Broadway
In the early years of Timpanogos Valley Theater, some of the musicals had orchestral accompaniment. In 2018, HVCO made the leap to Broadway Heber-style, playing in the pit and accompanying TVT’s live production of “Hello Dolly.” While only part of the orchestra made it to the show, Eaton said, “This is the first time the Heber Valley Orchestra stepped in to be part of it.”
Trudi Harter, president of the board of directors for TVT, was excited for the new partnership. “I reached out to Heather Thaxton and the HVCO see if we could bring live music back to the theatre,” Harter explained. “They were excited to play for us in ‘Hello Dolly’ and we enjoyed the experience so much, we have asked the orchestra to come back and play for ‘The Music Man’ this spring!”
Harter is enthusiastic about the amount of talent in Heber Valley’s backyard. She is quick to point out her feelings on the orchestra’s involvement, and said, “The involvement with TVT was an opportunity for our community theatre to combine talents and enrich our production with the excellent sounds of the orchestra.”
Calling All Musicians
Each year, two to five musicians are added to the group and Eaton encourages new members to join at any time. While anyone is welcome and there is no audition process, recruits are asked to commit to a minimum of six of nine rehearsals. She does caution, however, that, “No one gets paid.”
For the members of the HVOC, their love of music, the camaraderie and the opportunity to create arrangements that bring an audience to its feet is payment enough.