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Lark and Spur Set to Dazzle Crowd With Christmas Concert Saturday Dec 5th

December 4, 2009

Excellence in the Community

2008 Concert Review:

“O come, O come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel.”  Lori Decker sings a somber prayer, as Evan Coombs has his stand-up bass growl deep and low, putting a poignant exclamation to Lori’s pitiful petition.  Lori now chimes the exultant proclamation, “Rejoice, rejoice, Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel.”  Lori has a way of projecting so much emotion with her voice that her prayer becomes your prayer, her triumph becomes your triumph, and her song becomes your song. Lori’s voice is surrounded by the guitars of Jeff Whiteley and Michael Fjerstad, Ray Smith on the woodwind and brass, Lindsey Lambert at the piano, and-as mentioned earlier-Evan Coombs on bass.  This group of eminent musician’s expertise is only surpassed by their love for music itself.

Lark & Spur set the night aglow with Christmas spirit.  Their eclectic song set mixes cheery renditions of songs such as Let it Snow and Il est ne/Good Christian Men Rejoice with their stirring renditions of Still, Still, Still and Sweet Little Jesus Boy.  Nearly every song left me speechless.  I was taken by the music.  The music is so engrossing, so captivating, so dazzling, it tugs at your heartstrings and leaves a smile on your face.

On Saturday December 6th Lark & Spur put on their fourth annual Christmas concert at the Grande Theatre.  This signifies the completion of Excellence in the Community’s third full year of bringing quality musical performances by world-class musicians to Salt Lake City.  “Excellence in the Community was founded on the simple notion that the Wasatch Front is home to many world-class musicians who, though they have played the world over, are not as well known as they should be in their own backyard.”  Jeff Whiteley, Managing Director of Excellence in the Community, put it this way, “Our goal is to establish the Wasatch Front as a center for World Class Music of many genres.  Though ambitious, the task is not impossible because the most important element is already in place: world-class talent.”

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Excellence in the Community has two concerts every month, one in Salt Lake City and the other in Ogden.  This month is the Christmas concert performed by Lark & Spur.  As I mentioned, their Salt Lake City concert was last Saturday.  Their Ogden performance will be December 15th at 7:30 pm at the Egyptian Theatre in Ogden.  They’ll be playing the same show as they did in Salt Lake.  You won’t regret attending this Christmas performance.  Learn more at http://excellenceconcerts.org/index.php .

Excellence in the Community brought together spectacular musicians-as they do for every performance-for their Christmas Concert.  Lark & Spur consist of:

Lori Decker-provides the memorable vocals, tin whistle and mandolin accompaniment in this versatile quintet.  She is a fourth generation musical professional beginning with her great-grandfather who was a performance violinist and composer.  Lori began voice training at 11 and began performing in local theatres at 9.  She was pursuing a degree in Vocal Performance at the University of Utah before changing her emphasis to graduate studies in medicine at George Washington University.  She is a proud graduate of the “4 M Program”: Music, Medicine, Marriage and Mother.

Jeff Whiteley-plays acoustic guitar and is the organizing force behind Lark & Spur.  Jeff has been performing professionally for over 35 years.  He thinks fondly of his days as a street musician in Europe.  Jeff is a writer with publication credits in English and in French.  He has an MA in French Literature from BYU and brings his literary influences to his performances.  He has taught French at the university level and currently teaches guitar privately.  He is a member of Sampler Musique (a Paris based music cooperative), and is the founder and managing director of Excellence in the Community.

Ray Smith-is the director of Jazz Studies and Professor of Saxophone at BYU.  As a performer, Smith is equally at home with classical, celtic, or jazz.  Ray plays all five of the woodwinds: flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, and saxophone.  He has over 130 CD credits and has recorded on many film scores and television themes and jingles.  Dr. Smith’s reputation is international.  He has led the Synthesis Jazz ensemble through tours on 4 continents.  He performs with the Utah Symphony and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and is a regular with the Utah Saxophone Quartet, Q’d Up and Lark & Spur.

Michael Fjerstad-born and raised in the San Francisco bay area, Michael moved to Utah to attend the BYU School of Music where he was awarded scholarships for guitar performances and composition.  While at BYU he studies both jazz and classical guitar.  He spent the last two undergraduate years teaching guitar at the BYU School of Music, working with a wide range of styles and skill levels.  This past April he graduated from BYU with a degree in Media Music.  Mike divides his time between performing, composing and recording sessions, and teaching.

Evan Coombs-has worked as adjunct faculty in the jazz studies department at the University of Utah and holds a masters degree in music.  Evan has performed all over the United States and Europe.  Local performing credits include:  Park City International Jazz Festival, SLC International Jazz Festival, Orchestra at Temple Square, SLC Symphony, and The Utah Symphony.

Lindsey Lambert-is a graduate student attending the University of Utah and working on a Masters degree in piano performance.  Lindsey has completed and placed in many piano competitions, including first place in the University of Utah Summer Arts Piano Competition 2004.  Lindsey is also a violinist and was able to perform the Bach D. Minor Piano Concerto at a New York Competition with her high school orchestra, where she was awarded best instrumentalist.  Because of her love for the choral arts, Lindsey has toured and performed with choral groups since high school.  In 2008 she joined the Women’s Chorus at the University of Utah.
(All bios complements of Excellence in the Community)

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