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An Inside Look at the Summer 2024 BYU Music Tours

This summer, several BYU ensembles will travel internationally to perform for audiences in Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Brussels, and South Korea. Here’s an inside look at these BYU music tours, how the groups are preparing, where they’re going and what the directors are looking forward to.

BYU Singers: Ireland

On April 27, the BYU Singers will embark on a nine-day trip to perform in Dublin and Cork, Ireland. The Singers were invited to apply to perform at the Cork International Choral Festival. The Singers are invited to apply to many festivals each year, but this particular festival grants each choir a stipend to help assist the choir’s travel to the competition.

Dr. Andrew Crane (professor, choral conducting and ensembles) and the BYU Singers have spent the last year preparing a 12-minute program for the competition, adhering to several strict guidelines about the repertoire and composers. The choir has even invited several choral professionals and a choreographer to work with the choir and fine-tune aspects of the performance that the judges will be looking for. Dr. Crane is excited to see the choir’s hard work pay off when they perform in front of an international jury composed of worldwide choral experts.

Dr. Crane says that even though the Singers are traveling specifically to Cork to perform in the international competition, they’re not going just to compete. The competition gives the choir a common, uniting goal. “It's also really great just to travel the world and to collaborate with and listen to other choirs from all over the world. So it's a great learning experience,” says Dr. Crane.

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“It's also really great just to travel the world and to collaborate with and listen to other choirs.”
–Dr. Andrew Crane
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While the choir is in Cork, they will also take time to perform in concerts for the people in Cork with the other choirs participating in the competition, sharing their passion for music with the audiences. The tour will also include performances in Dublin.

BYU Synthesis: The Netherlands, Germany, and Brussels

 

From May 1 to 22, BYU Synthesis will travel to the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium, collaborating with ensembles and performing in festivals and concerts along the way.

Dr. Ben Nichols says that he and the band are passionate about music, education, and especially jazz, and they’re looking forward to sharing what they love most about music with the musicians and audiences they meet on the trip. “We'd also like to give back,” Dr. Nichols says. “For me and for many of the students in synthesis, being able to see bands (either college bands or professional bands) perform were really formative and inspiring experiences when we were young [musicians].”

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“For me and for many of the students in synthesis, being able to see bands (either college bands or professional bands) perform were really formative and inspiring experiences when we were young [musicians].”
–Dr. Ben Nichols
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So the band is planning to workshop and perform with several high school bands throughout the tour. “We'd love to be able to help inspire [the bands] and learn from them as well,” says Dr. Nichols.

Synthesis is preparing a wide array of music so that they can perform unique and special pieces for each performance. The group will perform some of the greatest hits of big-band music as well as new compositions from Dr. Nichols and from students in the band.

For students, performing their original music on tour will make the experience even more personal and unique, says Dr. Nichols. “I think that will be a really great experience for the students to be able to share their art and also show that you can play but that there's no reason why you can't be an arranger and a writer as well.”

Dr. Nichols is looking forward to sharing the light of music during the tour as well. He says, “It's really a spiritual mission and music is the medium. . . . We want to share the spirit and the love of God for our fellow man with everyone that we interact with, and those performances [are] a really great opportunity to do so.”

Women's Chorus: Germany and Switzerland


Directed by Dr. Sonja Poulter, the BYU Women’s Chorus will tour Germany and Switzerland in May. During the trip, the choir will perform in Bern, Switzerland, and in several cities in Germany: Bad Nauheim, Frankfurt, and Marktoberdor. The concert in Marktoberdorf, taking place on Sunday, May 12th, will be a special Mother’s Day Concert.

Women’s Chorus is excited to share their unique sound and beautiful moving music with the people in Germany and Switzerland. To prepare, the group is focusing on fine-tuning the music they’ve been rehearsing and learning about the culture in each destination.

Wind Symphony: South Korea

The BYU Wind Symphony, directed by Dr. Shawn Smith (associate professor and director of bands), is preparing to perform at the 20th World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles (WASBE) International Conference in July. The group will travel to Gwangju, South Korea (a suburb of Seoul) to perform at the one-of-a-kind conference dedicated solely to symphonic wind music.

Every two years, the WASBE conference invites symphonic bands from across the globe to submit applications and recordings to perform at the conference. “It’s a highly competitive process,” says Dr. Smith, and this year the BYU Wind Symphony will perform at the conference.

The BYU Wind Symphony will perform a full 90-minute concert at the conference. The Wind Symphony’s performance at WASBE will be unique because of the specialized audience. Dr. Smith says, “This [performance] is a little bit different, . . . because we will actually be performing for people that are deeply involved in band music.” But Dr. Smith and the Wind Symphony’s goal is to always perform at a high level—after all, the high-quality performance is how the Wind Symphony landed their spot in the prestigious conference in the first place.

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“This [performance] is a little bit different . . . because we will actually be performing for people that are deeply involved in band music.”
–Dr. Shawn Smith
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The Wind Symphony will also perform a festival for the general public in a large outdoor city park. Dr. Smith says, “I'm excited about the concert in the park because that is [an opportunity to] play for families and people that are out enjoying their day, and they can stop and hear the Wind Symphony perform.”

The Wind Symphony will also celebrate the 100th anniversary of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue by performing the iconic piece at the conference. The piece showcases a stellar piano solo that Dr. Jihea Hong-Park (associate professor, piano)—a native of South Korea—will perform. Dr. Smith says, “[We’re] really excited to perform with [Dr. Hong-Park], and she's just a rock star on the piano. To be able to have that South Korea–connection as well I think is pretty special.”

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