“Ricks College Musicians Premiere Sacred Work,” Ensign, June 1997, 80
The fourth in a series of commissioned sacred music premiered at Ricks College on 9 April. The Church-owned junior college commissioned the work, Immanuel, by K. Newell Dayley, and 240 Ricks College musicians performed it during a two-week, nine-performance tour through Idaho and Utah.
“Words fall short of describing the beautiful experience the premiere was,” said Ricks College president Steven D. Bennion. “Musically and spiritually it was a combination that created inspiring synergy.”
The composition centers on the mission of Jesus Christ and is divided into four parts: His Eternal Purposes, Adam Fell That Man Might Be, God Shall Be with Us, and That Ye Become Holy.
“The text was selected from ancient and modern scriptures,” said Brother Dayley, who is a professor of music at Brigham Young University. After selecting and arranging the scriptural texts, Brother Dayley’s next challenge was to “clothe the scriptures in music compatible to their message. The text was placed in a musical environment with a singular hope that feeling might be bound with knowledge.
Kevin Call, director of the musical production, said of the music education program at Ricks: “We do what other schools do. But, as a parent once said, we also teach the students to worship at the altar with music rather than at the altar of music. In the process, Ricks is becoming an amazing catalyst for creativity in the arts.”
Previous pieces commissioned by Ricks College are Behold, He Cometh! by Darwin Wolford; Visions of Eternity, by Crawford Gates; and Song of Nephi, by Robert Cundick.
“These pieces are available to members in a variety of ways,” Brother Call said. The North Texas Oratorio Society in Dallas performed Visions of Eternity; several Church members in the group suggested the piece. Other organizations have voiced an interest in performing various sections of these commissioned works.
“Our desire is to invite some of the outstanding LDS composers to participate in this adventure,” said President Bennion, noting that Legacy composer Merrill Jenson has been commissioned for a piece in 1999. “We feel we ought to be doing more than performing the great classical works of the masters; we ought also to be doing something to tell the story of the Restoration and its beauty and power. This makes a rich and wonderful contribution not just to Ricks College and our student performers but to the Church.”