University Choir and Orchestra (UCO) held its first concert of the year at 6 p.m. on Saturday in Upper Turner Campus Center. With the celebration of its 35th anniversary, UCO’s theme of the year is “Stories Worth Telling.”

“We believe that everything we sing tells a story,” explained conductor Dr. John Sutton.

UCO President and senior music and worship major Hailey Gerken revealed that this year, UCO “wants to learn about each other’s unique stories, as well as share the most important story—God’s story,” adding how they are also working to encourage “each member of UCO to hear each other’s stories and tell their own.”

“We’re getting to know each other in new ways, because we’re hearing regularly from different group members instead of just the leadership team,” orchestra chaplain Hannah Dyslin said. “This year we have a much closer group as a whole because people feel welcome, seen and heard, and this theme is a huge part of that.”

UTCC proved to be an ideal venue because of the great acoustics, which the choir utilized standing in a circle around the middle of the room.The concert began with a solo orchestra piece called “Recession of the Levites” by Richard Small. It was a powerful introduction with great brass and percussion beginning.

After the orchestra performed its first solo piece, the choir greeted the audience, thanking them for coming and joined the orchestra on stage.

“I love hearing the choir and orchestra perform separately, but there’s nothing like hearing them perform together,” Sutton said.

The show included parts that were interactive with the audience. During the performance of “Amazing Grace,” the words of the song appeared on two screens above the choir, allowing the audience to sing along. The audience also had the chance to learn the chorus of “We Hold our God,” under the direction of Sutton and choir members.

UCO performed a Psalm 23 song that had jazz undertones. Before the Psalm 23 piece began, Sutton said, “Whatever moment of life you’re in right now, the Lord is your shepherd.”

Natalie Chen from Honk Kong performed a solo in this song. Also Romellus Wilson, chaplain for the choir, performed a solo in this song.

UCO Vice-President and junior music and worship major Brooke Myers said what she liked best about performing at the concert was “definitely the people I was performing with.”

“There are so many new UCO members this year; we have such a new sound,” Myers added.

However, there was more to the show than meets the eye and Dyslin explains how UCO is set a part.

“A lot of effort goes into how we are presented and our rehearsal time, but all that is pointless if we come across as just another APU performing group,” said Dyslin. “I hope that the audience [does] not just see us as a well-rehearsed, well-dressed group of students, but as a worshiping body of Christ.