NORMAN — When Anthony Eversole was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma he had the obvious on his mind: The end of his life. Little did he know his battle with cancer would open up doors otherwise left closed.
Eversole, a local member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was a voice performance masters student at the University of Oklahoma in November 2011 when doctors told him he had an 11-centimeter tumor next to his heart. When his diagnosis was confirmed in December 2011, Eversole, a Utah native, was unsure if he would be able to continue his graduate studies in Norman.
Though Eversole began four cycles of chemotherapy in January, OU agreed to let him stay on as a masters student. Eversole was declared in remission on June 5 and said his journey to remission strengthened his faith in God and his ability to perform musically.
“Vocally, I was all wrapped up in myself. I was not singing in a way I could probably make a professional career. I came here to help with that. But I had such strong vocal chords I could sing through a lot of the things I was doing wrong at the time. When I got sick, and my voice teacher told me it as well, it was both a blessing and a curse,” Eversole said. “I was so weak but I continued my voice lessons. When I did go, we worked on things just from the bottom up because I was just so weak I could hardly sing at all. It was building my voice from scratch basically and we worked gradually, and my voice got stronger and stronger. As I continued to recover, I was building a more secure foundation and undoing a lot of the things I was doing wrong previously. … It’s certainly a different experience now. And I think that that was the Lord helping me find a way to do what I want to do.”
For Eversole, music is one of the ways he worships in a communal environment and expresses his faith. He will perform as a baritone soloist during “Joy to the World: A Musical Christmas Celebration,” a choral and orchestra concert, hosted by the Central Oklahoma Stakes of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“The purpose of music, the purpose of live performance especially, is to touch your audience. And it’s not you that touches them, it’s the story, it’s the human condition. In this situation, clearly it’s the greatest story ever told — the birth of Christ and the Atonement, being the story that we’re telling,” said Eversole, on the concert. “And having it be told through excellent music adds a lot to it, it adds a lot of power to the message.”
The event is 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 22 at Oklahoma City Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N. Walker Ave.
While the concert is free, general admission tickets are required. Tickets may be obtained by calling 548-5530. Tickets are for ages 8 and up. The Civic Center is not handling tickets for the event. Ten minutes before each performance, remaining empty seats will be offered to standby patrons.
Led by Dr. Craig Jessop, former Mormon Tabernacle Choir director, the group of primarily volunteer, professional musicians will provide a festive and inspiring atmosphere to celebrate the Christmas season. Special guests include Jessop, Eversole and soprano Lisa Howard.
Orchestra and choir members are composed of people from all faiths in central Oklahoma, with the core choir membership drawn from 44 Mormon congregations in cities such as Stillwater, Ardmore, Woodward, Seminole, Oklahoma City and Norman.
Christmas songs performed during the concert include: “Joy to the World,” “What Child Is This,” “White Christmas,” “Glory to God,” “O, Come All Ye Faithful,” “Silent Night” and “Angels We Have Heard on High.”
For more information on Eversole, visit anthonydeversole.com. For more information on the concert, visit joytotheworld2012.com.