Ogden concert fights cancer through music

Wednesday , December 10, 2014 - 12:00 AM

Raychel Johnson

The annual Jaynie Nye Holiday Memorial Concert has a history of celebrating the holiday season and remembering a child’s legacy of giving hope in the fight against cancer. This year promises to live up to that legacy.

The program, produced by Michael Huff and Glen Rawson, is in memory of Jaynie Nye, a 15-year-old who died of cancer. This concert will benefit the McKay-Dee Hospital Foundation that works to give cancer patients the best care available through up-to-date treatment options and diagnostic equipment.

“We’ve put together a really fantastic show, and Ogden probably hasn’t had this type of show in a long time,” said Richard Taylor, foundation executive director. “It will kind of be a variety music show.”

For years the hospital paired up with Emmy Award-winning composer/performer Kurt Bestor to put on the concert, but this year Jaynie Nye’s memory will live on through a never-before-heard combination of the talent found in the Top of Utah.

“He (Bestor) was here for 16 years as part of this program and I think we felt it was time to have a new perspective and a fresh face on our concert,” Taylor said.

New lineup, same message

In addition to the Salt Lake Symphony and Utah Voices choir, the benefit concert will also brings together GENTRI, a trio of theatrical tenors, New Age pianist and composer Jason Tonioli, and Rawson, a Utah radio and TV personality.

Between songs, Taylor said the foundation is going to showcase and highlight stories of how the foundation is reaching out to the community through home-based health care programs that directly benefit from the concert proceeds.

“We’ll be doing some story telling through videos and through Glen Rawson, the narrator, as well as entertaining,” Taylor said. “The majority of the evening is entertaining, but it is a fundraiser and we’ll be telling our story and singing for folks who would like to support us as we reach out and touch lives in the community.”

Utah Voices has collaborated with the Salt Lake Symphony for a performance at least once every season since the choir’s inception in 2009. The choir and the symphony will be reunited once again, for a good cause.

“We thought this would be a great opportunity to not only sing for our patrons, but to sing for this great cause that has been in the works for many years,” said  Juliann Pickett, Utah Voices managing director.

She added the choir, lead by accomplished conductor Huff, is excited for the holiday setlist prepared especially for this concert.

“We are going to deliver an incredible performance. Our singers have worked tirelessly to achieve the level that Dr. Huff expects, and there will be a great collaboration between fun and traditional music to music that will really target the heart strings,” Pickett said. “Not only do we spend our time rehearsing, but we spend time understanding the music that we’re singing and why were singing it, and why it touches the hearts of those that we perform for.”

The choral arrangements also include a few audience sing-alongs and a jazzed-up rendition of “Jingle Bells” performed by the choir. Pickett said the concert will have something for everyone, including a funny version of “A Child’s Christmas.”

Pickett said Christmas music and the holiday season have a special place in the hearts of choral singers, especially in those of Utah Voices.

“The singers always look forward to Christmas concerts and performing for Christmas-loving audiences and there is no better time to really enjoy choral singing that at Christmas time,” Pickett said.

New collaboration

Utah Voices has also collaborated with members from GENTRI in the past, and Pickett spoke highly of the trio.

“They have immense talent, they have the biggest hearts, they’re wonderful men and I know personally two of the three of them and we are just thrilled and honored to be sharing the stage with such an amazing group as GENTRI,” she said.

Brad Robbins of GENTRI said besides a fundraiser dinner earlier this fall, the Dec. 18 concert marks the first occasion GENTRI will perform in Ogden. This will also be the first time Robins has personally performed with Utah Voices.

“As far as I’m concerned, performing with them for the first time, I’m really looking forward to it,” Robins said. “There is so much talent in Utah and it’s always really exciting as an artist to have opportunities to collaborate with other world-class talent. I’m really looking forward to it.”

GENTRI will perform its first single available on iTunes, “Silent Night,” as well as some other holiday standards such as an original arrangement of “Ave Maria.”

The trio, consisting of Robins, Bradley Quinn Lever and Casey Elliott, is new this year, and came together after years of performing in theater up and down the Wasatch Front. Robins said each member of the trio has a timeless quality to his voice.

“When you mix three lyric tenors with sweeping, epic film score-like orchestrations, it becomes pretty exciting pretty fast, so we’re excited about it,” Robins said. “It mixes the timeless quality of beautiful music with a mainstream contemporary edge that is familiar.”

Contact reporter Raychel Johnson at 801-625-4279 or rajohnson@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter @raychelNEWS.


  • WHAT: Jaynie Nye Memorial Holiday Concert
  • WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 18
  • WHERE: Browning Center, WSU, 3848 Harrison Blvd., Ogden
  • TICKETS: $25/general admission, $40/preferred seating; http://weberstatetickets.com; information, 801-626-8500

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