BYU Women’s Chorus beats out hundreds of choirs to perform at conference in Salt Lake

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The BYU Women’s Chorus performed this week for The American Choir Directors Association (ACDA) conference, held in Salt Lake  City, which is a monumental event that consists of impressive choirs from around the world.

The choir was selected to perform from a competitive selection.

“Over 250 choirs auditioned worldwide,” said Hillary Willyerd, BYU Women’s Chorus president. “Only 23 were accepted, and one of them was us. It was quite the honor.”

The BYU Women’s Chorus performed two concerts on Feb. 25 at Abravanel Hall and the Salt Lake Tabernacle.

BYU Women’s Chorus performs Wednesday evening at the Tabernacle in Salt Lake (Shawn K. Jones).

On Feb. 28 the choir will join Broadway star Santino Fontana (Hans from Disney’s “Frozen”), The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, U.S. Singing Sergeants, combined ACDA National Conference honor choirs and opera singer Sylvia McNair at the LDS Conference Center.

“We (planned) the world’s largest community sing to be held at the LDS Conference Center, which holds over 20,000 people,” said Mary Hopper, the ACDA president, in a video presentation.

According to Willyerd, they have been working hard rehearsing this week’s music since September.

“We were very pleased with how things went Wednesday night,” Willyerd said. “The Tabernacle performance got a standing ovation. We had been working really hard to get everything all polished well.”

It was a long process since the choir started auditioning for the ACDA conference concerts, where it had to submit three audio recordings.

“We submitted audition pieces from years ago,” Willyerd said. “We sent in a few recordings and found out last year (June) that we made it.”

Willyerd said this experience was a great missionary tool for the people gathered in Salt Lake City for the convention from all over the world.

“We had this rare opportunity to reach people outside of Utah,” Willyerd said. “It was a missionary opportunity, in that we got to share our testimonies and share the gospel through music to choir directors who don’t necessarily know about BYU. That was very exciting.”

BYU Women’s Choir gathers for a performance (Dee Otterstein Holt).

The choir was elated to perform for people other than the BYU community and surrounding areas because it is not a traveling group.

“It was an extremely motivating experience to really reach for our best,” Willyerd said. “We usually only perform for the BYU community and the surrounding area.”

The four-day conference took place in and around downtown Salt Lake City Feb. 25–28. It consisted of concerts performed by both national and international choirs.

According to the ACDA website, attendees of the conference were able to take part in workshops, master classes, concerts, reading sessions, roundtable discussions, exhibits and networking opportunities.

Some national and local choirs include the BYU’s Women’s Chorus, Mormon Tabernacle Choi, Utah Symphony and Desert Chorale. International voices were heard from The King’s Singers (England), The Real Group (Sweden), Sine Nomine (Cuba) and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir (Estonia), just to name a few. There was a total of 45 choir concerts in all.

Hopper said popular Salt Lake City landmarks such as the Mormon Tabernacle, Assembly Hall, Abravanel Hall, Cathedral of the Madeleine, Little Theater, The Salt Palace and the LDS Conference Center housed the concerts throughout the conference.

Tickets are free for the Feb. 28 performance by calling 801-570-0080 or by visiting the LDS Conference Center ticket office.

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