Southern Utah Heritage Choir
Originally The St. George Temple Visitors’ Center Choir
October 3. 2004 a special Fireside was held in the St. George Tabernacle. This was the 10 anniversary of the Southern Utah Heritage Choir. It was in the Spring of 1994, that the foundation of the Choir was laid. Elder Leavitt, the director of the St. George Temple Visitors Center asked Mary Stewart and Phylis Tonks who werre each directing Regional Chors for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, to bring their chors together to sing for and Easter Sunrise Service .at the newly completed Temple Visitors’ Center. Each Choir had about 150 voices making a great choir of 300. At this service, Mary and Phylis alternated conducing the Choir and Jeoffrey Myers severd as the accompanist.
When Elder Leavitt heard this group sing for the first time, a vision and the fulfillment of a dream was opend to him. He had longed to do an inspired patriotic program entitled “Celebrate America” and now, at last , they way was opened to fulfill his desire.
After the Easter Dedicatory Service, He called a special committee together that consisted of Mary, Phylis, Jeoffrey, and Gorden (others?) When consideration was given as to who should be a director, Mary was inspired to recommend the name of Floyd Rigby. The choir was created as the St. George Temple Visitor’s Center Choir. In November of that year, the name was changed to the Tuacahn Heritage Choir and they preformed “Celebrate America.” This was followed by a Temple Lighting Ceremony, and the Western Regional Governors Conference. The Choir concluded 1994 with whas has become a wonderful tradition in St. George, the annual Christmas Program.
Because of Doug and Mary Stewart’s connection with Tuacahn and their desire for the choir to succeed, The Heritage Choir was able to secure a place to practice in it’s new music educational facilities. Later on the Choir was relocated to its present location in the St. George Tabernacle.
On October 3, 2004, the special celebration honored Mary and Phylis for their great contribution to the Choir, both in the beginning and in the last few years. Both are dedicated musicians and have a great love for the choral arts. As noted, it was both Mary and Phylis’s choirs that laid the foundation for today’s choir. Mary’s great musical skills have been exhibited many times as she served most of the past ten years as an assistant director and auditionist for the Choir, and has appeared many times as a soloist.
Phylis, in addition to being an excellent choral director has served as an accompanist both on the piano and organ for the past ten years and is currently active in that capacity with the choir. One cannot imagine the time that she spends each day of the week practicing new music and preparing for the 20 plus concerts each year.
See www.heritagechoir.org for Tabernacle Concert Schedule
07 October 2004