By Janae Wilson
Gathered in a Joseph F. Smith Building auditorium, former members of BYU choirs quietly chatter with one another.
As 7:30 p.m. rolls around, the clamoring quiets down and everyone leaves their seats to gather at the front.
In a moment, the auditorium transforms into a concert hall as these alumni join in song once again. With some of the best vocal talent ever to perform with BYU, the 32 alumni come together weekly to enjoy the passion they have for music.
At home here, they laugh jovially and exchange playful banter.
“Are any of you sick?” asked choir director Jill Winters after they made a rocky start. “Is this the sick ward?”
Their Christmas concert, titled “New World Light,” features works ranging from German baroque composer Georg Telemann to island rhythms from Haitian composer Emile Desamours.
Fortunately for the choir, they have a seasoned Creole dialectician in their midst. Tracy Hall, a tenor in the choir, served in the Haiti, Port-au-Prince mission and is delighted to sing pieces that remind him of his time there.
“If I”d heard that they [the choir] were performing Haitian/Creole numbers, I would have auditioned a lot sooner,” said Hall.
Sandra Gierisch, president of the choir, developed the idea of an alumni choir through collaboration with a few friends.
“We wanted people to be able to recreate their BYU choir experience where there is a high level of musical competency and talent,” said Gierisch. “Some of us just treasured our experience at BYU and once you graduate, where do you go, unless you go the Tab [Mormon Tabernacle] Choir?”
The choir”s presidency carefully interviewed and then selected a talented and skilled director for the group.
Winters not only performs and directs, she teaches as well. She developed a class for BYU music majors to learn how to create a beautiful tone among amateur singers. The class, Fundamentals of Choir Directing, provides specific application to LDS ward choir directing.
Winters is also in charge of selecting the pieces the choir performs.
“I try to pick contrasting pieces that will fit together in a set,” said Winters. “They are all tied together with a theme.”
The choir vice president, Camille Kingman, contributes much of her time and effort to making the choir a success as well. Kingman, who teaches choir at Orem Junior High, says sometimes she just needs to recharge at the end of the day.
“Doing stuff like this [the alumni choir] makes me realize why I do what I do day in and day out [at the junior high],”said Kingman. “It”s because I love to sing.”
What: BYU Alumni Choir Christmas concert
When & Where: Nov. 10 – 7:30 p.m. – First Baptist Church of Salt Lake; Nov. 11 – 7:30 p.m. – Tahitian Noni International Auditorium, Provo; and Dec. 2 – 5:30 p.m. – Temple Square in Salt Lake
For more info, visit www.byualumnichoir.com