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Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News
San Diego native Dyanne Riley, front, is the conductor of the Wasatch Chorale, which twice has been invited to perform in Carnegie Hall. Riley is an assistant professor at UVSC.

PROVO — Taking a community choir back east to perform in New York's Carnegie Hall once is a privilege and an honor.

Taking them twice is unheard of, something of which Wasatch Chorale conductor Dyanne Riley is keenly aware.

Her husband says it's a tribute to his wife's talent for touching the hearts of her singers.

It's a talent she was almost literally born with.

As a child she was picking out tunes on the piano and adding bass chords, prompting her parents to sign her up for lessons.

Before that, she remembers wanting to conduct the music around her.

"I remember waking up my younger sister and conducting every song we knew," Riley said.

She grew up in San Diego. At 14, she conducted an LDS stake youth choir. She learned to memorize the musical scores to avoid having anything between her and her choir.

During her college days she tied music with her athletic ability as a majorette and baton twirler where in full Aztec regalia she would lead the band out on the football field. She was also a competitive swimmer and is credentialed in California to teach both physical education and music. Later, she taught those two subjects at a San Diego high school and participated in community musical theater. She played 11 major roles. She also performs on the piano, organ and harp.

She met her husband Mike at the San Diego State University institute of religion of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They were married in 1967. She conducted the institute choir and her then-future husband was the only bass singer.

"I knew she was the director, so I showed up," he said.

In 1980 when Riley was completing a master's degree in music at San Diego State they decided to adopt a child, Suzanne, who became their fifth. Riley put her advanced degree on hold until 1992. By then things were shifting in the Riley household. Some of Mike and Dyanne Riley's children had moved to Utah to attend Brigham Young University, and grandchildren were coming.

"I wanted to be part of that," she said.

So after three generations in San Diego, the family relocated to Provo where Riley continued her master's program at BYU.

"It gave me an opportunity I never would have had in San Diego," she said.

Those opportunities included working with student choirs and BYU's music faculty and joining the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, where she performed for 10 years. From 2005 to just recently she trained new singers in the choir. JoAnne Otley was her mentor.

She sang with the choir for the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Additionally, she conducted the choir for the September 2005 Relief Society broadcast for the LDS Church, along with other choirs in Utah Valley.

Today, as an assistant professor of music at Utah Valley State College, Riley teaches 16 credit hours of advanced music, including aural skills, chorale conducting and voice classes along with 20 private students. She has taught there since 1994 when the music department was small. Then a two-year school, the choirs were new every year.

"There were lots of things we never got to teach," she said.

Today, the music department offers a four-year degree.

"Now it's really nice," she said.

Ever a teacher, for a week during each summer the Rileys turn their Provo mountainside home into a cousin's music camp for her grandchildren. "We have guitars, drums and keyboard," she said.


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