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Typically, one would find a conductor front and center leading a choir. When to begin, finish, sing forte or piano. But not From the Heart, a student-run choir here in Rexburg. The conductor is in the choir with them.
From the Heart asks listeners to do one thing during the performance: listen to the spirit and what it is telling you.
For the past 15 years, From the Heart has been putting on firesides every Sunday for the Rexburg community.
On Sunday, June 4, they held their first performance of the semester.
Their overall purpose is to share their testimonies of Jesus Christ through song.
“We want to draw its members and those who we sing to closer to Jesus Christ,” said Jessica Linford, a former member of the choir and a junior studying business management. “When From the Heart performs, there is no conductor that stands in front of the choir, and that is because we do not want anything in the way of the members sharing their testimonies with the audience.”
Jessica was also the previous choir conductor.
Jessica said From the Heart used to be a show choir back when BYU-Idaho was Ricks College. When the school changed to BYU-I, the college elected to end all show choirs.
However, the students participating in the show choir did not want it to end, regardless of if it was run through the college or not.
“The students involved in the program were not willing to be done with it, so they got together and decided to keep it running on student power alone,” Jessica said.
The choir is primarily made up of BYU-I students. Anyone is welcome to audition. Whether you think you are tone deaf or not very musically inclined, auditions are based upon the Spirit.
“The only thing required is a desire to share your testimony,” Jessica said.
The process is simple. At the beginning of the semester, those wanting to audition come prepared with their favorite hymn. They sing the hymn to the presidency of the choir, which changes every year, and the presidency decides based upon the spirit.
“Having the best singing voice is not a requirement,” Jessica said.
Jessica recalls when she was in the presidency. There would be people with incredible singing voices and some with mediocre singing voices.
Jessica said often times, those who had mediocre voices had great potential and a lot of room to grow and improve, so they would typically get the spot.
Marcus Moyer, a senior studying social work, is the pianist this semester for the choir. He auditioned this semester by singing “Lead Kindly Light.”
Moyer said one of his favorite parts about being in the choir is the people he gets to know along the way.
“There are many, many good people in the group,” Moyer said. “But more, you have the ability to testify of Christ. It’s just an opportunity to serve those around me.”
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Vice president of the choir a freshman studying elementary education, Kassie Linford, has been in the choir for three semesters now.
Kassie said she feels expressing her testimony through music is much more beneficial for her and helps her grow as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
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“I feel the spirit really well through music,” Kassie said. “Being able to sing about Jesus Christ and share my testimony through song gives me a great opportunity to share it with others.”
There are typically about 40 members in the choir. Those who make the choir pay a fee of about $30-45. This covers the fee for the retreat and tour they do every year.
This year, the choir is trying to go to Logan, Utah to perform at Utah State University, some of the local nursing homes, and at a fireside for a local ward in Logan.
“The choir is 100 percent service for those in the group,” Kassie said. “They don’t receive credit for their singing, or money or anything. They do it because they love to sing and share messages about Christ.”
The money also covers the fee for their attire. Kassie Linford said the men wear matching ties and the women matching necklaces. Because they are not a part of BYU-I, getting sheet music can be difficult as well. They purchase every song they perform with the fee money.
The members of the choir dedicate three hours a week to helping audience members feel Christ’s love for them. They take time out of their already very busy lives to rehearse for two hours on Thursdays, on top of their hour-long performance on Sunday evenings.
“The intent of all of our performances is to reach out to lost and hurting souls and remind them of Jesus Christ’s love for them,” Jessica said.
Jessica said they find audience members retunring every Sunday after listening to them once.
“I have seen audience members who come in not knowing what to expect and walk out with teary eyes, thanking us for reminding them of God’s love for them,” Jessica said.
The community seems to appreciate all the choir does for them. Each Sunday they perform, about three-fourths of the chapel is filled. However, because this is a choir that is not associated with BYU-I, they have to perform off campus.
They have a hard time broadcasting their performance because they cannot hang signs or make announcements throughout campus.
Heidi Gibby, a sophomore studying Spanish education, went to last Sunday’s performance for the first time. She said she really enjoyed it and will try to return every Sunday to feel the spirit.
“The music was so inspiring,” Gibby said.
This group does every fireside at the LDS Rexburg 4th Ward meeting house, located near Windsor Manor Apartments.
The group wishes more people knew about it. It is not a fireside where there are speakers, it is strictly music.
The choir has a Facebook page called, “From the Heart Choir,” where they post all performance and audition information every semester.