Organizers working to put together musical storytelling festival

Emily Pikyvit, left, watches as Clive Romney records Vanessa Lee singing May 5, in Richfield.

It’s been a passion for musician and storyteller Clive Romey for most of his life. 

Sharing the history of Utah, especially long the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area, has been a way for Romney to do the things he loves — tell stories and make music.

“I’ve worked with people in the area for the past 12 years,” Romney said. 

Romney said through the years he has helped compile stories and songs about the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area, which encompasses portions of Sevier, Wayne, Piute, Garfield, Sanpete and Kane counties. 

However, in all that time he said one mistake has been made. 

“The history always goes back to the Native American people,” Romney said. “They haven’t been allowed to tell their own stories.”

So when a proposal to start a new event on the campus Snow College began formulating, Romney said he started keeping his eyes open for voices that could share the Native American history of the region.

Snow President Brad Cook organized a group to look at creating some type of event to help fill the void left by the Manti Temple Pageant. The proposal was originally to create an event to draw people to Snow’s Ephraim campus — perhaps a musical

UNION: Story Road is being spearheaded by Snow professor Michael Huff. 

“We held auditions in March of the most recent semester, and awarded places in the group,” Huff said. “Then COVID-19 hit, and all rehearsals along with all face-to-face instruction was suspended.”

In the meantime, the members of Story Road have been learning songs and stories on their own.  Some of the songs are being recorded for release on YouTube and the Mormon Pioneer Heritage Area website, according to Huff.

Romney said he was asked to help and the proposal changed to a musical storytelling festival. 

“You can do with a lot less people,” Romney said. 

So the call went out for voices to add to the festival. 

Vanessa Lee and Emily Pikyvit volunteered to add their voices and stories to the mix.

“They were so strong,” Romney said. 

“It’s been good for me,” Lee said. She participated in her first official recording session in Richfield last week. 

The various contributors to the production are being recorded so that everyone involved has something with which to rehearse. The COVID-19 pandemic has eliminated any gatherings of the singers, so Romney has been recording them so they various parts can be shared. 

Lee said the storytelling festival is a way to share her culture. 

“We sang in a lot of places,” Pikyvit said. She said of the many years of singing with her mother. 

“Clive asked us where we’ve been,” said Rena Pikyvit, Emily’s mother. “I told him we’ve been right here all along.”

While the ultimate future of the festival is dependent on what happens with the COVID-19 situation, Romney said organizers are hoping to have more concrete plans for the event by Memorial Day.  

“We look forward to partnering with others, providing a unique cultural experience for our communities and showcasing our students’ talents,” Cook said. 

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