In BYU Singers we have the amazing opportunity to perform music from a wide variety of styles. Our latest music video, “Till There Was You,” comes from Meredith Willson’s musical, “The Music Man.” This jazz arrangement has been so much fun for us to rehearse and perform. We have had the chance to explore outside of our usual classical technique and learn how to sing in the jazz style.
The BYU Singers are excited to release another music video! This is a recording of “Alleluia” by Swedish composer Fredrik Sixten. Sixten comments on his compositional style and technique,”When I write music, it is important to me that I reach the listener…for me it’s natural to use common elements – like melody and harmony – but also to make use of contrasts. When they think they know where they’re heading, I take a step in another direction.” This piece, “Alleluia” is a perfect example of Sixten’s ideology. We have felt a sense of ethereal beauty and heavenly awe emanating from this music that cannot fully be expressed by regular human language. The word “Alleluia” enables us to communicate profound feelings of faith and devotion from the depth of our souls.
At our November 2015 concert, we were honored and privileged to be the first American choir to perform a fantastic new composition by British composer Owain Park entitled “The Wings of the Wind.” From the very beginnings of rehearsing the piece to performing it on stage, it was an exhilarating experience for us. The song is challenging, featuring complex rhythms and meters and dissonant harmonies. However, we were captured by the spirit and imagination of this work that speaks of the glory, power, and majesty of God. The text is a compilation of verses from the Book of Psalms, all of which paint a picture of God’s nature and character. In December 2015, we recorded and released a video of “The Wings of the Wind.” We would like to share this video with you and invite you to experience Owain Park’s imaginative sounds of God’s wonder and might.
He came flying upon the wings of the wind,
His pavilion round about him,
with dark water and thick clouds to cover him.
He brought forth clouds from the ends of the world:
and sent forth lightnings with the rain.
The Lord also thunder’d out of heav’n,
and the Highest gave his thunder,
The Lord thunder’d,
gave hailstones, and coals of fire.
For I will consider thy heavens,
even the works of thy fingers:
the moon and the stars which thou hast ordain’d.
All mine enemies whisper together against me:
even against me do they imagine this evil.
My heart panteth,
my strength hath fail’d me:
and the sight of mine eyes is gone from me.
Yea, even like as a dream when one awaketh,
Truth shall flourish out of the earth
and righteousness hath look’d down from heav’n.
Therefore my heart danceth for joy,
and in my song will I praise him.
–Book of Psalms
We’re excited to announce a new video that we released on October 16 of one of our pieces, “Flight Song,” by Kim Andre Arnesen. We have loved learning and singing this beautiful piece of music and it has become one of our favorites! The melodies are flowing and graceful, and the song is set to an amazing text by poet Euan Tait. The text embodies so much of what we believe and value as BYU Singers – that music helps us to communicate the full range of our deepest feelings, whether it be joy, exhilaration, and love, or pain, sadness, and discouragement. These emotions that we experience become our “Flight Song,” and that song helps us to fly and rise above the trials and tribulations that we face in our lives. This song also helps us to connect and share love and encouragement with others around us, so that they may fly together with us. We hope that the powerful melodies and messages of this piece will bring healing, light, love, and comfort to your soul. Please enjoy this video and share it with your friends and family!
All we are we have found in song:
you have drawn this song from us.
Songs of lives unfolding fly overhead, cry overhead;
longing, rising from the song within.
Moving like the rise and fall of wings,
hands that shape our calling voice
on the edge of answers you’ve head our cry, you’ve known our cry:
music’s fierce compassion flows from you.
The night is restless with the sounds we hear,
is broken, shaken by the cries of pain:
for this is music’s inner voice
yes, we hear you, all you who cry aloud,
and we will fly, answering you,
so our lives sing, we will fly, wild in spirt we will fly.
like a feather falling from the wing,
fragile as a human voice,
afraid, uncertain, alive to love,
We sing as love,
afraid, uncertain, yet our flight begins as song.
On September 18-19, 2015, we met for our annual Fall Retreat with our new group of singers. We have greatly enjoyed learning from our new conductor, Dr. Andrew Crane. Dr. Crane always brings a good spirit to rehearsal. He is cheerful, hard-working, and incredibly knowledgeable about good vocal production and choral technique. We are becoming better singers and a better choir under his direction.
We met on Friday, September 18 for a delicious dinner catered by Rumbi Island Grill. After dinner, we rehearsed a few pieces from our repertoire, “Gaude et laetare,” “Spirits,” and “Certn’ly, Lord.” “Gaude et Laetare” is a Renaissance spiritual about rejoicing and praising Christ. “Spirits” is an original composition by Ryan Murphy that is set to a poem by the same name, written by Robert Seymour Bridges. “Certn’ly, Lord” is a rousing African-American spiritual featuring tenor and baritone soloists and a rocking piano accompaniment. Following our rehearsal we played get-to-know-you games and had sectional rehearsals with Dr. Crane. We enjoyed getting to know each other better and improving our sound as a choir.
On Saturday, we met at “The Barn” in Mapleton, UT for a pancake breakfast, generously provided by the Thueson family, who are BYU choir alumni. The Barn is located in a beautiful part of Utah Valley, right next to a pond with a clear view of the mountains. We spent a great deal of the morning rehearsing our repertoire in preparation for our first concert on September 25. At the end of the retreat, we went up to the loft in the Barn and performed “Spirits.” We love this song and the beautiful message that it contains. This was a great way to finish out a wonderful weekend of music-making and choir bonding. Here are some pictures from our Fall 2015 retreat:
Photo Credit: Nick Ritter, Nixart LLC
As the tour draws to its conclusion we need to thank Rex Barrington for bringing this tour to fruition at long last, and for his and Dixie’s cheerful shepherding and managing while we’ve been in China. Thanks also to Kirk Larsen who taught the China culture class, and for his efforts to keep us culturally correct and informed while we’ve been here. A big thanks to Sheldon Poon, who helped so much to help set up the tour, and who took personal vacation time to travel with us and help in every way to make the tour run smoothly. It has been wonderful to have Sister Staheli with us through the tour; there is no one who has sacrificed more for BYU Singers than she. Her beautiful smile lights up the room as she interacts with the choir or listens to them sing. Read more
We rose early-ish this morning, checked out of our hotel, and loaded the buses once again for the return trip to Shanghai. Our destination this time was the Sacrament Meeting of the Shanghai LDS Branch, in a very nice office building. We at least quadrupled the size of the congregation, and the speaking and music was turned over to the choir. It was good to hear our 4 choir members speak, and it’s always a joy to hear them sing. Read more
We checked out of our hotel early today for our 3-hour drive to Wuxi. Read more
If you would like to really experience our day as we did, turn your shower on full blast, block the drain, and stand under the water fully dressed. Today’s weather: monsoon. This was the day we had two hours to walk around the shopping area of Shanghai. The shopping was great; the weather dampened us a bit if not our spirits. It was a fun area, though all of the shopkeepers and “personal shoppers” who kept trying to get us into their stores were a little intense. Those who enjoy bargaining had a lot of fun. I would be inserting lots of photos at this point, but having read the forecast, I chose not to sacrifice another camera to rain. As the heavens opened up, my decision was ratified. Read more
The last train to Shanghai—someone really ought to use that as a title of a book. We boarded the train with alacrity, and also with all of our luggage, which is no small accomplishment. Two hours later we were in Shanghai, ready to begin the last leg of our tour. We were met by our new local guide, and were soon checked into the Vienna International Hotel, which doesn’t have a thing to do with Vienna that any of us can see. Not a wiener schnitzel in sight. But nice rooms, and a two-night stay! Read more