BYU choirs to perform at General Conference

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The BYU Men’s Chorus, Concert Choir and BYU Singers will perform at the priesthood session of General Conference this April.

The BYU choirs filled the 21,000-person Conference Center with grace and harmony through special pieces of music prepared and directed by Ronald Staheli.

Sarah Strobel; Sarah Strobel
The BYU Men’s Chorus performs the opening hymn for a devotional in the Marriott Center. (Sarah Strobel)

BYU Men’s Chorus is directed and led by the world-renowned Rosalind Hall. The Princeton Review has consistently rated Hall as one of the 300 best professors in the country, and she is ranked the No. 4 best professor on ratemyprofessor.com.

The group provides opportunities for more than 180 students to express themselves through growth, hard work and continuous learning from Hall. BYU Men’s Chorus has performed several times in General Conference, often alternating between mixed choirs performing at Saturday afternoon’s session to the Men’s Chorus performing at priesthood sessions. The assignments have come about every other year for several decades now.

“I believe that art brings beauty into our lives,” Hall said. “Music especially opens windows and brings dimensions that are beyond normal life.”

Hall then explained the process of choosing music for the performance. The BYU Men’s Chorus is not assigned any particular piece but is encouraged to choose what to perform at the session.

“It’s tricky because we can run into licensing and copyright issues when we used pre-composed pieces,” Hall said. “We usually just compose our own pieces for this performance. We choose hymns and arrange them to create the pieces that we sing.”

The same excitement and process of choosing music applies to the BYU Singers and Concert Choir, who performed at other sessions of conference. For Dane Erickson, 26, a senior from Dallas majoring in computer science, the chance to perform for the BYU Singers has been a passion fulfilled.

Chris Bunker
The BYU Men’s Chorus performs during the 2011 homecoming devotional. The Men’s Chorus will sing for the 2015 Priesthood Session of General Conference. (Chris Bunker)

“I’ve always had a passion for singing and for my testimony. Singing for BYU Singers gave me the opportunity to enjoy both at the same time,” Erickson said.

The BYU Concert Choir also made ample preparations to ensure that the audience didn’t leave disappointed. According to their website, “This very select ensemble has acquired an outstanding reputation for its captivating performances of a wide variety of repertoire, taken from the great choral literature and encompassing many different styles and genres.”

This year the pieces were arranged by Staheli and Thomas Durham, who will both retire at the end of the school year. “We thought it a proper tribute for their final moments,” Hall said.

For Mark Frost, a junior from Georgia majoring in exercise and wellness, singing in the Conference Center was the opportunity of a lifetime to connect and reconnect with the souls of the families and friends he taught on his mission in Argentina.

General Conference is broadcast to more than 80 countries, so many of these men were watched from families in the Church they have taught during their missionary service.

Members of the BYU Men's Chorus sing with Vocal Point and James Stevens in the viral YouTube video titled "Nearer My God To Thee." The Men's Chorus will sing in Salt Lake at General Conference this year. (Screenshot)
Members of the BYU Men’s Chorus sing with Vocal Point and James Stevens in the viral YouTube video titled “Nearer My God To Thee.” The Men’s Chorus will sing in Salt Lake at General Conference this year. (Screenshot)

“Those people mean a lot to me, and it’s fulfilling to know that the mission is not the only effort that I have made to reach out to them,” Frost said. “Knowing that they are watching helps me to sing with heart. It helps me to remember that this is not about me at all. It is about our Savior, Jesus Christ.”

Nicholas Ortega is a senior from California majoring in electrical engineering. Ortega said Men’s Chorus has provided the spiritual growth and stability that has helped him become an excellent student.

“(Men’s Chorus) has helped me be a lot less stressed out, because I have something that I look forward to every day,” he said.