Winter Choir Fest showcases campus vocal groups

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BYU choral groups  have a strong tradition of filling their audiences with joy, but missed the opportunity last year when their winter showcase, Winter Choir Fest, was canceled. The 2011 festival was set to take place in the Provo Tabernacle, but was canceled after the tragic fire. Like a pheonix from the ashes, BYU choirs are back with Winter Choir Fest and a whole new repertoire.

On Feb. 1 the BYU choirs, including the BYU Singers, Concert Choir, Men’s Chorus and Women’s Chorus, will join together in the de Jong Concert Hall at the Harris Fine Arts Center to showcase their songs. Both performers and directors are excited for the opportunity to share their music with a BYU audience.

Women’s Chorus director Jean Applonie is looking forward to the performance and assures audiences will have a wonderful experience. Her choir will showcase several pieces they have been preparing for their spring performance, including the mystical “Orpheus With His Lute,” which features a cello and oboe accompaniment, and a new arrangement of “Amazing Grace.” Applonie said she is particularly excited about a piece called “Sing Creation’s Music On.”

“It’s a brilliant, shimmering piece that really evokes the energy of creation; the creation of the earth I think,” Applonie said.

Applonie said finding spiritual significance in her musical experience is second nature, adding that she strives to help members of her choir understand the meaning behind the music by holding what she called “text talks.” During these talks the choir discusses the spiritual significance of the music.

“The element of the spiritual always exists within music,”Applonie said.

Like Applonie, each of the BYU choir directors strives to select music that will evoke energy and emotion from their choirs and their audiences. Ron Staheli, director of BYU Singers, shared that this process is in itself an art.

“The issue is finding the pieces that work together; that make a statement on the program; that reveal an aspect of the art you’re wanting to portray,” Staheli said.

Rosiland Hall, director of both the Concert Choir and Men’s Chorus, added that selecting music for her choirs is as much about variety and entertaining the audience as it is about the artistic expression.

“You want to give the audience and the choir the opportunity to experience many different kinds of choral music,” Hall said.

Winter Choir Fest will take place Wednesday, Feb. 1, at 7:30 p.m. in the de Jong Concert hall. Tickets are available online at arts.byu.edu/tickets, at the HFAC ticket office or by phone at 801- 422-4322.

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