Trained to fill rooms and move audience members with their rich vocal blends, the BYU Singers are internationally recognized for their talent and professionalism. This spring they will travel to the United Kingdom to perform in the great concert halls, chapels, and cathedrals of England and Wales.
This tour will be conductor Ronald Staheli’s third trip to the British Isles in the past three years, and he looks forward to the opportunity to follow up and strengthen relationships made during those visits. “The choir structure in Britain is very different from what we have in the United States,” said Staheli. “The professional choral world is much more active in Britain, and I look forward to making contacts with them and their choirs in order to create strong working relationships.” Influential composers, leading choral conductors, members of parliament, and government officials have been invited to attend the BYU Singers’ concerts throughout the tour.
The choir will be touring with a special program, showcasing a variety of music that helped shape the United States of America. Beginning with pieces from the colonial era and ending with modern classical composers, the program will travel through the nation’s cultural history, highlighting the influences of Western European, folk, African-American, and gospel music.
“Our goal is to bring a program with an inherent beauty to the eyes, ears, and hearts of our listeners,” said Staheli. “We want to inspire our audiences in such a way that they leave the concert and act on what they have heard, felt, and experienced.”
The inspiring recital will travel throughout Southern England, providing rare opportunities for the Singers as they perform in concert halls at renowned educational institutes, including the University of Exeter, the University of Oxford, and the University of Cambridge. At Cambridge a choral workshop is anticipated with one of the local college choirs, providing both choirs an opportunity to interact and sing together. While in Wales the group will hold a workshop with the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, where five of the college’s master’s-level choral conducting students will meet and work with the group. Later that evening the BYU Singers will hold a special one-night concert in the college’s new performance hall.
Along with these programs, the BYU Singers will have many opportunities to experience the culture of England as they perform in some of the oldest and most historically important cathedrals in England. “The venues we will be singing in were built for these types of choral performances,” said Rex Barrington, tour manager. “I’ve had the chance to visit each of the locations personally, and they are all marvelous.” More than just the impressive size, structure, and detail that define these great halls and cathedrals, the sites provide an unsurpassable acoustic quality that brings each song to life.
Near the end of the tour the Singers will have an opportunity to perform in St. Paul’s Cathedral, where royal weddings and funerals have been held. Ten times each year this venue invites an outside choir to perform in the cathedral; the BYU Singers were privileged to be the selected performance for the month of May. With no piano accompaniment, the Singers will present 30 minutes of carefully selected and prepared sacred music.
The tour finale will be in St. John’s, Smith Square in London. Located in the heart of Westminster in the area of British Parliament, this is considered the venue for choirs in all of London.
The venues are fantastic; the cities are historic,” said Staheli. “In almost every case the community, local charities, and BYU supportive organizations are coming together to work as a team. It’s an exciting combination that proves this tour isn’t just for BYU; it’s for the communities we visit.”