ALS you need is love: Arts community rallied for benefit concert
Jun 01, 2017 10:00AM ● Published by Travis Barton
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When local choir teacher David Martin resigned from his position because of a vocal hemorrhage, he decided to continue his tradition of hosting a spring Beatlemania concert—but this time on a larger scale and for a charitable cause.
“Honestly, I feel like, if nothing else, that Beatlemania concert that I did at the junior high was nothing more than to prep me for this,” Martin said.
The Taylorsville native’s close friend Chris Clark, chair of the Utah Valley University Theatre Department and the executive producer for Robert Redford’s Sundance Summer Theatre, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, ALS, in March 2016. Martin wanted to support Clark and others struggling with the progressive nervous system disease through a benefit concert. And that’s how the first—and Martin notes, hopefully not the last—“BeatALS concert” was born.
While Martin is certainly not the first person to put on a Beatles benefit concert, he claims the “BeatALS” pun. With the name and date selected and vision for what such a concert could do for the ALS community, Martin, without a choir, began rallying well-known Utah performers—including cinematic pop trio GENTRI, Ryan Innes from “The Voice,” Defying Gravity Utah aerial acrobatics group and Terence Hansen, who is most well-known for performing with a guitar with two necks.
Through social media campaigns and word of mouth, news of the concert spread. By the time the May 1 concert at Cottonwood High School rolled around, more than 40 performers had agreed to participate, including the Cottonwood High School Madrigals and the Shout Beatles Choir that Martin formed for the occasion in conjunction with the Riverton Arts Council.
“I don’t have to do the kid component in a concert like this, but I just think, let’s get them aware of making a positive impact on society at this age,” Martin said. “I think it is our obligation as adults who have been raised on good music to instill that in the rising generation, and it’s also the age to get kids aware of diseases and of causes and of their contributions to bringing about positive change.”
Madi Hicks, 15, said being a member of the Shout Beatles Choir was a new experience for her even though she’s been involved in other musical productions.
“It just makes you feel good to do something for somebody else,” she said. “It’s fun to do whatever I can to help. Usually, when I am regularly performing, I am only doing it for fun, but this is for something more than that.”
Overall, the benefit concert raised money for the ALS Association and helped spread a sense of community through the performing arts, Martin said.
“It was kind of a dual mission with ALS and awareness and art,” he said. “I feel like art is always under attack—at the school level especially. People don’t value it, and I am like, as many times as we can reach out to the community and say, ‘This is important,’—that’s a big deal.”
Because of the positive response from performers and community members, Martin said he’s hoping the BeatALS benefit will extend into future years, though he said it still may be too soon to tell.
The Shout Beatles Choir Martin created for the benefit will last through the rest of the summer and is set to perform at Riverton City’s Town Days celebration and several other events. Martin is open to keeping the group alive year-round.
“The Shout Choir’s purpose is to unify communities in good causes,” he said. “Maybe it’s not ALS every single time; maybe it’s other things, but I think we would like to make this a group that its main goal is just positive outreach to the community and a good environment for kids to be involved in service and blessing the lives of people through good music. We’ll see where it goes.”
Although the benefit concert is over, community members can still donate to the cause by visiting beatalsbenefit.com.