BYU’s four touring choirs, Women’s Chorus, Concert Choir, BYU Singers and Men’s Chorus, sang a various assortment of choral music in the de Jong concert hall on Friday, Sept 25, 2015.
This first performance introduced BYU Singers’ new director Dr. Andrew Crane, a BYU alumni who conducted Women’s Chorus as a graduate student. He previously directed choral choirs at East Carolina University. The school announced his new position May first of this year.
Crane said it felt good to be back.
“I’m reminded of how BYU strives for excellence,” Crane said. “Everybody tries to do their best.”
BYU Singers sang Spirits, an original score written by Ryan T. Murphy, assistant director of The Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Cellist Brian Stucki accompanied the choir. Crane, Murphy and Stucki attended BYU together. Crane thought it appropriate to perform Murphy’s song with Stucki in his first concert as BYU Singers’ director.
Women’s Chorus sang the traditional Spanish folk song “El Vito”, an arrangement by Joni Jensen.
Vocal performance major Katie Armantrout walked on stage midway through the song, dressed in maroon and sang a solo.
Allison Cammack, who joined Women’s Chorus five semesters ago as a freshman, said she liked the Spanish song because it was full of flavor.
“We were able to take on a persona that we weren’t used to,” Cammack said. “Plus it is just a fun song.”
Men’s Chorus ran on stage carrying ukuleles and guitars after the Concert Choir left. After performing two religious numbers, they put on leis and the musicians sat down, each holding a guitar or ukulele. The chorus sang Waika, a traditional Hawaiian song with Dr. Crane, who sang the solo.
Men’s Chorus sang the hymn “How Great Thou Art” as their last song.
Spencer Arnesen, who joined the Men’s Chorus as a freshman, said this arrangement by Dan Forrest was his favorite by far.
“I’d never heard it before,” Arnesen said. “It blew me away.”
The Concert Choir, conducted by Rosalind Hall, sang “Oh, What Songs of the Heart,”arranged by Ronald Staheli. It is a hymn about greeting loved ones who have passed on. Staheli wrote his version of the hymn before his sister died. Hall dedicated the choir’s performance of the piece to Staheli’s sister.
All the choirs concluded the concert singing Amazing Grace with choir members filling both aisles and the stage.
Dr. Crane said his goal for BYU Singers is to create the highest level of music-making possible.
“We are ambassadors for the mission of BYU,” Crane said.
Cammack said she hopes the audience walks out feeling enlightened and full of the Spirit.
“With emotions they can’t express in words and helps them connect with others, with Heavenly Father and strengthens their testimonies,” Camack said.
Arnesen said singing in Men’s Chorus provides him a way to express his emotions and his testimony.
“It’s strengthened by belief in Jesus Christ,” Arnesen said.