These Utahns are performing in Normandy for the 80th anniversary of D-Day

High schoolers making up the Voodoo Orchestra pose before they travel to Normandy, France, to perform in the ceremonies on June 6 during the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

High schoolers making up the Voodoo Orchestra pose before they travel to Normandy, France, to perform in the ceremonies on June 6 during the 80th anniversary of D-Day. (Caleb Chapman's Soundhouse)


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NORMANDY, France — Utahns from three different groups have been invited to perform in the French festivities marking the 80th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944.

The dance team from Anthem Preparatory School in South Jordan was invited by organizers, after it performed at Pearl Harbor in 2021.

"They already knew about our dancers and our dance program and coaches. So they invited us back and we are very excited," said school director Elsha Yorgason. "There aren't enough words to express how hard they have worked to be ready for this."

The same organizers who put on the Pearl Harbor celebrations are planning the anniversary event at Normandy this year.

Dancers from the Anthem Prep dance team practice before they perform at the D-Day Memorial parade in Normandy, France, on June 6.
Dancers from the Anthem Prep dance team practice before they perform at the D-Day Memorial parade in Normandy, France, on June 6. (Photo: Anthem Preparatory School)

Dance director Angi Jones said the kids "have been working for months and months on their routines and perfecting them." They'll dance to swing and big band music, the kinds of radio songs popular during the 1930s and 1940s.

Another group, the Utah Pipe Band, had made inroads after its bagpipe performances at Pearl Harbor. Fifty-four of its members will be playing at Omaha Beach, where an estimated 2,400 Americans suffered casualties during the invasion. John Barclay, manager of the pipe band, grew emotional at the honor.

"Words can't describe it. It is outstanding," he said.

"The Scots used the bagpipes to connect the emotions of the event and that is why when you see great events, bagpipes are there. It just makes the event so meaningful and so much more impressive."

The Utah Pipe Band will be performing on June 6 during the 80th anniversary celebrations of the invasion of Normandy.
The Utah Pipe Band will be performing on June 6 during the 80th anniversary celebrations of the invasion of Normandy. (Photo: Utah Pipe Band)

The pipe band, and the dance team will be in the D-Day Memorial Parade running through Sainte Mere Eglise, the first French town liberated from the Nazis after the invasion.

Those groups will likely see another gaggle of Utahns far from home — Caleb Chapman's Soundhouse Voodoo Orchestra, made up of 30 high school musicians from across Utah.

Based out of Pleasant Grove, the band is traveling on invitation to perform music of the era during the parade and at the liberation memorial ceremony at the Normandy American Cemetery.

"We are deeply honored to be part of such a historic and meaningful event," said band leader Caleb Chapman in a statement. "Performing in Normandy allows us to pay tribute to the veterans whose courage and sacrifice shaped the course of history."

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Alex Cabrero
Alex Cabrero is an Emmy award-winning journalist and reporter for KSL-TV since 2004. He covers various topics and events but particularly enjoys sharing stories that show what's good in the world.

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