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The 45th state to be admitted to the United States, Utah has been home to several indigenous peoples for thousands of years and is notable for being the only state where the majority of its citizens belong to the same church: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or the Mormon Church. Admitted to the United States in 1896 after being ceded in the Mexican-American War, it celebrated its centennial in 1996. As part of the celebration, the Utah State Centennial Commission sponsored the creation of this program of songs of praise of Utah’s history, presumably for schoolchildren to perform in assemblies, in 1996.
Side one is labeled “vocal model” and side two is labeled “orchestral accompaniment,” and both contain the entire program. This and the complexity and ambition of the musical arrangements leads one to believe groups wanting to perform the program would simply pipe Side 2 through a PA system (one hopes, at least; this preservationist went to a grade school for whom a $40 boom box from Montgomery Ward turned up to “unintelligible distorted static” was good enough), instead of also involving the band kids. Always left behind, those band kids.
While filming this video on a live stream in April 2022, a viewer from Utah alerted this preservationist that his child was performing some of the songs from this program the very next day. So while the content of the program is not necessarily out-of-place for 1996, its continued use in the face of the much-accelerated rate of cultural change since then has made it more than a bit anachronistic. “Utah Indians,” for instance, will not survive much longer in a culture that tears down statues and bans Halloween costumes; while the lyrics are likely factually accurate, the vocal melody and hand drums too closely evoke the stereotypical “Native American music” of 20th century film and television. (That, and they’re using the word “Indians.”) “First White Men in Utah” may suffer the same fate, with its too-on-the-nose Spanish flair. Some of the other tracks ape traditional American musical genres, a safe space for composers if there ever was one, and the rest is typical 90s adult contemporary aesthetics. “The 29 Counties of Utah,” of course, has a space in the vocal where each performing group can insert the name of their own county during the line that says which county is the best.
In 2003, the title track was designated the Utah state anthem, which may explain the program’s continued use more than a quarter century after the centennial. Whatever the reason, the last thing this preservationist expected when putting this cultural artifact into the cassette deck is that it was still being used.
“Utah… This is the Place” was published in 1996 by Classroom Classics and has no catalog number.
0:00 Uncommon Ephemera Title Card
0:04 Utah… This is the Place (Vocal Model)
03:48 Utah Indians (Vocal Model)
07:04 First White Men in Utah (Vocal Model)
09:55 Fur Traders & Trappers (Vocal Model)
12:05 Utah Pioneers (Vocal Model)
15:51 Iron Wheels A Rollin’ (Vocal Model)
18:04 Looking Back (Vocal Model)
21:37 The 29 Counties of Utah (Vocal Model)
23:49 There’s No Place Like Utah (Vocal Model)
27:06 Utah… This is the Place (Finale) (Vocal Model)
30:39 Utah… This is the Place (Orchestral Accompaniment)
34:22 Utah Indians (Orchestral Accompaniment)
37:38 First White Men in Utah (Orchestral Accompaniment)
40:29 Fur Traders & Trappers (Orchestral Accompaniment)
42:40 Utah Pioneers (Orchestral Accompaniment)
46:25 Iron Wheels A Rollin’ (Orchestral Accompaniment)
48:38 Looking Back (Orchestral Accompaniment)
52:10 The 29 Countries of Utah (Orchestral Accompaniment)
54:24 There’s No Place Like Utah (Orchestral Accompaniment)
57:40 Utah… This is the Place (Orchestral Accompaniment)
1:01:12 Patreon Credits
Internet Archive: https://archive.org/details/@uncommon_ephemera
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