BOUNTIFUL, Utah (ABC4 News) – Seniors in the Bountiful High School A Cappella Choir joined “together” for the last time in a way they won’t soon forget.

Larry Smith, Choir Director for Bountiful High School, said the day Utah schools closed for soft closures was a week before their concert and senior choir tour was two weeks later. These events were canceled due to the closures.

“My heart ached for these seniors, and I really wanted to do something for them so that they had a lasting memory of choir, friends, and their senior year. This is especially meaningful because at Bountiful High our choirs are grade-based, so the A Cappella choir literally is made up entirely of seniors,” said Smith.

He said he’d seen virtual choirs online and thought this idea would be a great keepsake for his students.

“Music has a unique way of bonding us together. Even though everyone was at home, I really wanted to bring us together one last time,” he said.

Smith said he felt strongly about doing something for his seniors.

“I am proud of all these students and am thrilled that this virtual choir became a reality! I’m glad it turned out so well, and hope that this music and this video will help bring some measure of comfort in what have become such challenging times,” Smith added.

ABC4 News asked four senior members of the choir about their experience making the video and how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted their senior year.

Andrew Hyde: Bass, Bountiful High A Cappella Choir

Q: How long have you been apart of the choir and why did you join?

A: I joined choir for just my senior year. I had never done it before, but I wanted to sing with my friends. I had heard amazing things about Mr. Smith, and I wanted to be a part of the choir.

Q: How has being a member of the choir impacted your high school experience?

A: Choir has been an incredible experience and has helped me to grow so much this year. I remember being terrified to sing at all at the beginning of the year, and by the time we had our last live concert, I got a solo and sang in front of the whole audience. Choir has truly helped me to grow close with so many friends and step out of my comfort zone in a way I had never done before.

Q: How did the idea to do a virtual performance start?

A: I honestly think that it was our director’s idea, Mr. Smith. He had shown us several virtual choirs throughout the year that had come together to sing from around the world. We never got to perform our songs for our March Concert, so Mr. Smith decided to put together one of our songs with our videos- all credit to him for taking initiative in such an unprecedented time.

Q: How did it feel to having your last performance be a virtual one?

A: It’s not the same. Don’t get me wrong, it was an incredible and emotional experience to watch the video we had created, but it is just not the same as standing together as a choir and watching the impact you are having on the audience.

Q: Looking forward, how will your experience these last few months of school impact you?

A: I don’t really know yet. I think the biggest impact it has had is it has made me realize how much I miss real interaction with my peers. Social media is awesome and is a great tool to stay in touch with friends, but it is simply not the same as hanging out in the parking lot after school just for fun. I am so grateful for the experiences I was able to have with my fellow seniors before school was discontinued. I think this has been eye-opening for all of us. We all miss each other, and I would imagine that we will not take any future interaction we have with each other for granted.

Amy Huefner: Alto, Bountiful High A Cappella Choir

Q: How long have you been a part of the choir, and why did you join?

A: I have been a part of Bountiful High choirs since second semester of sophomore year with girls choir, although I’ve been involved in many choirs since sixth grade. I’ve been in four choirs since the start of junior year: Xela (all women’s audition choir, juniors and seniors), Concert choir (juniors only audition choir), Chamber choir (32 student men and women senior audition choir), and A Capella (men and women senior audition choir). The A Capella Choir, which I have been a part of since the beginning of senior year, is the choir that put together this video. I joined choir because I LOVE music! I believe that it is a universal language. The majority of my closest friends came from relationships that I formed in choirs, and I would consider choir to be more of a family than a class. There is nothing like the feeling that comes from singing together with a group of people and making something really beautiful, and I wanted to make sure to have those experiences my senior year by joining choir. 

Q: How has being a member of the choir impacted your high school experience?

A: As I said before, choir is more of a family than a class. When I am in choir, the rest of the world doesn’t matter. At the beginning of the year, it took a minute to get everyone to feel comfortable and to bond, but as soon as we performed in our first fall concert together, we became a tight group that joined together to make music and share the messages of whatever song we get to share with the world. Choir has really been one of my favorite parts of high school. It has given me the best friends I could ask for, a place to relax during the hardest parts of this year, and memories that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I will always be grateful for the experiences that I had in choir.

Q: How did the idea to do a virtual performance start?

A: I think the idea to do a virtual choir was born because Mr. Smith wanted to give a gift to not only us as choir students, but to anyone who is in need of something uplifting. He was aware that we might not be able to perform together in person again, so he wanted us to be able to do something as The Bountiful High A Capella Choir.  It was given to us as a Canvas assignment, where we were asked to record ourselves singing, and Mr. Smith took care of the rest. Everyone in the choir was on board, and was excited to sing a song that we had been about a week out from performing before the soft closure. 

Q: How did it feel to having your last performance be a virtual one?

A: I don’t think that a virtual choir was the most ideal end for us, but, considering the circumstances, I believe that it was the best thing we could’ve done. If there’s one thing that Mr. Smith is good at besides teaching choir, it’s caring about his students and making sure that they have the best experiences they can. Mr. Smith wanted us to be able to have one last performance, and I think that sharing a song like this one with a message of hope is one of the greatest things that A Capella has accomplished, no matter how we accomplished it. 

Q: Looking forward how will your experience these last few months of school impact you?

A: Personally, this has been an incredibly difficult experience. I try to have a positive attitude about everything, and I do my best to look on the bright side, but it still has been really rough to suddenly lose everything I was looking forward to and have the rest of my school year be canceled, particularly since I am super social and extroverted. Of course, I honestly have it pretty good. I have a great family that I like to spend time with and technology to be able to reach out to my friends, and I know everyone isn’t as lucky as I am in this quarantine. However, that doesn’t stop the fact that I have to grieve the loss of things I was excited about, particularly with choir. Looking forward, I know that this will be an experience to remember. Even though my long-awaited choir trip was canceled, and even though I’ll never be able to sing with nearly 100 of the greatest humans alive again in person, I am grateful for what we’ve been able to do. The news that things were starting to shut down came to me while on a bus ride home from the Chamber choir’s region solo and ensemble festival, where we qualified for state. As we found out more on that bus ride, I have never seen a group of people more heartbroken and dejected- yet strong and hopeful for how we approach the future. No one complained. Very few said anything about the things that we would miss. We just sat together in a mixture of unified sadness and hope and did our best to find things that we could still be happy about. I know that I am going through this with some of the strongest and most amazing people in this world, so I know I’m not alone. I’ll look back on these experiences with gratitude and love. A Capella was one of the best things I could’ve been a part of, and I’m so glad that I got to share this experience and that we were able to share a message of hope in these difficult times. I have loved choir and I will always look back with fond memories, even though it ended in an unconventional way. 

Joseph Olson: Baritone Bountiful High A Cappella Choir

Q: How long have you been a part of the choir, and why did you join?

A: I have been a part of Bountiful High’s A Cappella Choir since the beginning of this school year. However, most of us have been in Bountiful High’s amazing choirs since sophomore year.

Q: How has being a member of the choir impacted your high school experience?

A: Being a member of choir has given me a place to belong. I have created lifelong friends because of that class. There is a spirit felt in that class that you can’t find anywhere else. A spirit of friendship, of closeness. Choir is a safe place where we excitedly congregate as friends to create beautiful music together under our amazing director, Larry Smith.

Q: How did the idea to do a virtual performance start?

A: Mr. Smith posted an assignment on Canvas for a virtual choir and like me, I’m sure most of the members of this choir jumped for joy. Singing with this group was a privilege taken away far too soon. Even though we couldn’t sing with each other physically, this gave us the opportunity to sing together in spirit one last time.

Q: How did it feel to having your last performance be a virtual one?

A: I know that he was pleased with the way this performance turned out. We, as members of the choir, along with Mr. Smith, are all devastated by the fact we won’t be able to perform together anymore. However, this was a truly inspired action because its impact has brought our choirs closer together as well as countless families and communities. I am truly proud to be a part of this choir.

Q: Looking forward, how will your experience these last few months of school impact you?

A: This experience has honestly brought me closer to my Savior. The song we sang, “O Love,” talks of a Divine Being whose love will not let us go. It talks of an Eternal Joy that “seeks us through the pain” and I truly believe those lyrics. God’s love will always be there for us if we choose to open our hearts. He is there to seek us through whatever pain we are feeling; whether that be missing prom and graduation, or our much anticipated choir trip, God understands and feels our pain and will always be there to get us through it when we turn to Him. I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to be a member of the choirs at Bountiful High. It has truly changed my life and given me friends and memories to last forever. So thank you to Mr. Smith for being there to provide us with these experiences and pouring your heart into your teaching. We love and appreciate all you do for us!

Savannah Stacey: Alto, Bountiful High A Cappella Choir

Q: How long have you been a part of the choir, and why did you join?

A: I’ve been in choir ever since I was in elementary, but I’ve been involved in Bountiful High School choir ever since my second semester of sophomore year. I started out in girls’ choir, auditioned into Xela and Concert Choir my junior year, and then auditioned into Chamber Choir (I was blessed to be co-president in this class with my good friend, Joseph Olsen) and A Capella choir my senior year. I joined because music has always been a way for me to communicate with others. It has always brought light into my life. 

Q: How has being a member of the choir impacted your high school experience?

A: Choir is home to me. I wouldn’t be the same person I am today without choir. It’s made me a more vulnerable and loving human being. It has taught me about teamwork, humanity, service, love, and passion. I have built some of the strongest relationships to others around me just by singing and spreading joy with them. I have made life-long friendships and memories that I will always cherish. They are my people. Performing with about 100 of my best friends has been the biggest gift I could’ve ever been given. 

Q: How did the idea to do a virtual performance start?

Well, it was all Mr. Smith’s idea. I’m sure it was to bring a little light during this dark time. We all can use some hope and humanity right now. This was a way to manifest that to the world. I just remember opening my canvas one night and seeing the assignment on our choir page. I got so excited. I got to sing with my best friends one more time! It was weird filming myself singing alone, but once it all came together, I was blown away. I even teared up. It was magical. 

Q: How did it feel to having your last performance be a virtual one?

A: It wasn’t ideal. It’s not the same as singing with each other in person. However, it was so moving to me. Uncertain circumstances can’t dampen the love that we all have for each other, and it can’t stop us from making music. If there is one thing that Mr. Smith has taught me, it’s that music goes on and on, and hope is greater than fear. 

Q: Looking forward how will your experience these last few months of school impact you?

A: It’s been incredibly hard and heartbreaking. I miss days in the choir room joking around with Mr. Smith. I miss performing with my friends; I miss singing every day. We had so much ahead of us too- choir performances, state competitions, and choir trips. That was all taken away. However, I am so blessed for the time that I did get to grow and learn. Whenever I look back on my time in A capella, I will be filled with so much gratitude. I know that even when I’m 25 or 78, I can always lean on any of them. That’s the beauty of choir.  

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