Sanpete choirs merge, are seeking participants

Two well-known local choirs have joined forces to combine into a single choir.

North Sanpete’s Easter Offering Choir (EOC), founded 36 years ago by Dr. Roy Ellefsen, and the Sanpete Valley Singers Choir (SVS), founded by Steven J. Clark in the year 2000, have merged under the name of the Sanpete Valley Choral Arts Society (SVCAS).

Ellefsen’s Easter Offering concert has been a mainstay of North Sanpete culture since the ‘80s. Clark’s choir performs Christmas concerts at venues ranging from local communities to the Gunnison State Prison to Temple Square.

Angela Thompson, the choir’s new secretary/treasurer, said that both groups will benefit from unified administration, resources and fundraising. The choir will only use original (Octavo) music for rehearsals and performances, she said.

In 2019, the SVS received the first increment of a grant from the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area that was never used due to the COVID-19 shutdown, Clark said. Those proceeds will now help launch the SVCAS. The choir is actively seeking additional patrons who can fund operations year to year.

“This is a wonderful development,” Dr. Ellefsen said, “I enthusiastically support this change and encourage all our choir members to do so as well.” His sentiment was echoed by Clark, who said, “Now people don’t have to feel like they have to choose between one choir or the other.”

In 2017, after founding and directing the SVS for 17 years, Clark handed the baton off to Dr. Ellefsen and took the position of assistant director. Prior to the merge, most members already sang in both choirs. They shared the same rehearsal venue and frequently cross-pollinated their email lists, Clark said.

Dr. Ellefsen will direct the unified choir with Clark serving as assistant director. Allison Bradley of Fountain Green will continue as the Christmas accompanist and Anna Aagard of Moroni the Easter Offering accompanist. Clark will also serve as Choir President.

Rehearsals for this year’s Christmas program begin on Sunday, Sept. 19 at 4:30 p.m. at the Mt. Pleasant Stake Center at 300 S. State Street. “We welcome participation from anyone who loves to sing challenging, beautiful music under a highly competent director,” said David Fullmer, the group’s vice-president and former Easter Offering Choir board member.

Ellefsen addressed the issue of reluctance of some community members to participate because of the rehearsal venue. “Although we rehearse at an LDS Church, that’s more a function of having enough choir seats and a piano and organ available rather than any religious affiliation consideration,” he said. “We have received wonderful support from the LDS church, but even so, this is a community choir, not a church choir.”

Participation is open to anyone 15 years or older who is capable of singing choir parts. For information call Clark at 262-0358 or Fullmer at 262-1264.