BYU Singers’ HFAC performance a preamble to upcoming tour

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    By PETER THUNELL

    The BYU Singers will perform a special concert Friday in the de Jong Concert Hall in the HFAC. The BYU Singers, under the direction of Ron Staheli, is BYU’s top choral touring ensemble.

    In Friday’s concert, BYU will perform music from their upcoming summer tour of England and the Middle East. On the final leg of the tour, the BYU Singers will also get the opportunity to sing at the prestigious Carnegie Hall.

    For the tour, the choir has learned three complete concerts of music because they will be performing to an array of audiences, according to Staheli. In Jordan and Gaza the choir will sing music selected for members of the Islamic faith, while in Israel they will perform music for a Jewish audience.

    One major part of the music they will perform will be African American spirituals. Staheli chose spirituals for the universal nature of the music. Also the spirituals really help the audience to connect with the choir.

    The BYU Singers will also be the special guests of the Israel Chamber Orchestra and will perform a concert version of the opera “Dido and Aeneas” with the orchestra. The BYU Singers forged a continuing relationship with the orchestra 25 years ago, and this will be their fourth time as guests of the orchestra.

    The Singers realize that everywhere they go this summer, they will be ambassadors of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The church even specifically asked them to perform in Jordan as a sign of goodwill to the new government there.

    Adam Dawson, 24, a junior from Provo majoring in music composition, looks forward to the chance to sing in the Middle East.

    “I feel like the choir has a mission to fulfill, to touch people through music. We’re looking forward to being a part of the growing image of the church in that part of the world,” Dawson said.

    Staheli requested that the BYU Singers make a performance stop in England so that the choir could see and feel the rich choral tradition of the country.

    As exciting as the tour to far away lands sounds, the choir is just as excited to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York for the first time.

    “At first, the people at Carnegie Hall were reluctant because they didn’t know us. But, on a recent visit to New York, I stopped by with a press package that included information on our many international tours and our appearance at the Sydney Opera House as the U.S. representatives to the International Choral Symposium. And it wasn’t long until we had our date set,” Staheli said.

    On Friday the BYU Singers will perform three songs that were specifically written for them. They will perform the world premiere of a song by Los Angeles composer Eric Whitacre, the recent winner of the Barlow Foundation International Composition Competition.

    The words of the song are taken from the text of 2 Samuel when David laments the loss of his son Absalom. The piece is extremely complex with each section of the choir breaking into five parts at certain points. Staheli said the amazing thing is that with so much sound going on the piece still sounds beautiful instead of noisy.

    Tickets for the BYU Singers are $8 for general public and $5 for students and faculty. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m.

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