Bringing The Magic to Three Countries
The year 2023 promises to be an exciting one for BYU Vocal Point. Almost immediately after returning to BYU from winter break, the group departed for the warmer temperatures and clearer skies of Cuba. From January 7 to 12, Vocal Point put on two performances and participated in an exchange with the internationally acclaimed choir Entrevoces. Additional highlights for the group included a visit to the Guillermo Tomas Music Conservatory, which is one of the most prestigious music schools in Cuba, and to the famed Christ of Havana statue, which overlooks the bay. In February, BYU Vocal Point again left snowy Utah, this time for California and Nevada for their second mid-semester tour of the year. Over 10 days, the group visited Sacramento, Oakland, Chico, Modesto, Fresno, and Reno. Vocal Point scheduled seven performances, including one that involved a workshop with high school students and afterward included those students in Vocal Point’s evening show. The group loved interacting with and serving the people of California and Nevada through firesides, devotionals, and workshops. After BYU’s winter semester, Vocal Point will embark on their first extended tour of 2023 as they make the more-than-7,000-mile journey to the Philippines. For a little over a week, the group will take their talents to 10 cities, including Manila, Cebu City, and Oslob. In between their six performances, Vocal Point will spend time enjoying Filipino culture, tasting delicious food, sightseeing, and hosting devotionals for local Latter-day Saints. Two of the group’s performances will be held in the newly constructed Samsung Performing Arts Theater at Circuit Makati in Metro Manila. It will truly be an honor for the group to hold both a matinee and a gala performance in the theater, which features a 1,500-person capacity auditorium. After the group’s hard work with new director Carson Trautman and former director McKay Crockett, the tour in the Philippines will be a fitting conclusion to a busy and rewarding school year.
Making Global Connections in California
Last October the BYU Ballroom Dance Company went on a mid-semester tour to California and Nevada. Over the course of six days the company visited Las Vegas before traveling to Irvine, Santa Barbara, Redondo Beach, and Escondido. In total, the group put on five performances and two workshops, interacting with and serving not only audiences but also community and church members along the way. In addition to their workshops at the Performing Arts Center at the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts, the biggest highlights for the company were the VIP receptions organized by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and BYU Alumni chapters in Southern California. Students interacted with city officials, opinion leaders, interfaith leaders, and consuls general from over a dozen countries, including Qatar, Romania, and Azerbaijan. All were thrilled to meet Princess Diana Sisowath of Cambodia, who also came to see their performance. For 10 days this summer, the Ballroom Dance Company will have the opportunity to travel to England and compete at the famed Blackpool Dance Festival. Throughout their time there, the group will take in the sights of England, connect with Latter-day Saints, participate in rehearsals, and compete in the British Latin Formation and British Ballroom Formation Dancing Championships. Following the competition in England, the Ballroom Dance Company will travel to Brussels, Belgium, where they will put on a performance for ambassadors and dignitaries of the European Union and continue to represent BYU through first-rate performing arts.
Ballroom Dance Company
Choral Excellence in Spain
Last fall the BYU Singers had the privilege of being one of 11 elite choirs to compete in the International Choral Contest of Tolosa, Spain. As the only choir to represent the United States, the Singers were honored to receive an invitation. The contest included two competitive programs: a folk set to showcase melodies native to each choir’s national culture, and a polyphony set of classically oriented music. The Singers took second in folk and third in polyphony, a feat only a handful of American university choirs have accomplished in the 52 years of the contest. BYU Singers director Andrew Crane remarked, “There was a magic in the hall that I cannot quite describe. The process of learning and perfecting our music, while intense and at times stressful, improved the choir’s standard of excellence in a way that I don’t believe anything else could have.” Warm weather and ocean breezes will welcome several members of the Singers in April as they participate in a choral symposium on the Guadeloupe Islands in the Caribbean. As a result of their reputation for excellence in the choral community, the ensemble was invited to send a few select members of the group to the islands. While there, the Singers will conduct a choral seminar for the region’s music educators and perform several concerts. Following their April trip, the Singers will embark on their third tour of the school year, this time to Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. For nearly a week this May, they will give concerts at churches, performing arts centers, and universities across Boise, Kennewick, Spokane, Tacoma, and Portland. Along the way, the Singers will take in the sights of the Pacific Northwest, embrace new cultural experiences, and serve the people they meet.
From Denver to the Danube
Rather than celebrate Valentine’s Day traditionally, the BYU International Folk Dance Ensemble and Mountain Strings spent the holiday en route to Colorado for their mid-semester tour, braving snowy roads and sub-zero temperatures. From February 14 to 19, the ensemble visited Grand Junction, Montrose, Alamosa, Colorado Springs, and Denver, performing six times. Though their time was brief, the group still managed to lead a youth workshop, hold a meet and greet, and enjoy lunches with four stakes of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In June the ensemble will participate in international folk festivals abroad, including IFF Strážnice in the Czech Republic and the Danube Carnival in Hungary. One of the festivals held in connection with the International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folk Arts (CIOFF), the Danube Carnival is a celebration of dance involving contemporary dancers, international artists, and traditional Hungarian folk dancers. The BYU International Folk Dance Ensemble looks forward to representing American folk dance traditions and performing American dances such as the Charleston, the Lindy hop, and clogging. In addition to sharing their own culture and traditions, the ensemble will have opportunities to study in workshops, participate in culturally diverse experiences, and exchange dance traditions with other performers by teaching American choreography and learning cultural dances from other groups.
International Folk Dance Ensemble
Creating Memorable Moments for Students and Patrons Alike
During November, the BYU Young Ambassadors went on a successful tour to Arizona, where they participated in seven performances and hosted several workshops, interacting with and performing for approximately 3,500 people. Following their first two performances in Holbrook and Safford, the Young Ambassadors traveled to Sierra Vista to perform at the Klein Center for the Performing Arts. Afterward, the group led a vocal-and-dance workshop while several BYU students and their artistic director, Nathan Balser, were interviewed by a local news outlet. Their venue host Justin Israelsen stated, “I just want to say thank you again for such an amazing performance last night. What an incredible group you have.” On the way to their fourth stop, the Young Ambassadors visited the home of Ira Fulton, a BYU donor, and presented a special poolside show for him and his family members, neighbors, and friends. That night, the group performed with rousing success to a full house at the Queen Creek Performing Arts Center. The Young Ambassadors closed out their tour at the Vista Center for the Arts in Surprise, Arizona. Before their performance, the group conducted two workshops: a morning music-and-dance workshop with Young Ambassadors alumni Michael and Eric Sackett and an afternoon workshop with the Vista Center for community members. As a triumphant finish to a rewarding tour, the Young Ambassadors performed for over 900 people, their largest audience of the week. Looking forward to August, the Young Ambassadors will conclude their summer with a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland, to participate in the world-renowned Festival Fringe—a three-week celebration of global creativity where hundreds of artists and performers take to the stage to present shows to all walks of life.
A Passion for Music in Europe
This May the BYU Wind Symphony will embark on a two-week extended tour to Spain and Portugal. Composed of 50 members representing brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments, the Wind Symphony will visit the Portuguese cities of Lisbon and Porto and the Spanish cities of Madrid, Bilbao, Barcelona, and Valencia. During their travels, the Wind Symphony will put on seven performances, including one in the historic 2,100-seat Palau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona. In addition to marches and arrangements of classical pieces, the ensemble will present feature works from their latest recordings of Latin music. Sightseeing in Madrid, meals at diverse restaurants, and worshipping with local Latter-day Saints are all exciting experiences that await the group. The Wind Symphony has not been abroad since 2019 because of the pandemic, and they are overjoyed to demonstrate their hard work and passion to audiences across Spain and Portugal in the universal language of music. This tour abroad will be the Wind Symphony’s first with new director Shawn Smith, who took over from longtime director Donald Peterson in 2021. When asked about the upcoming tour, Smith stated, “This is a life-changing opportunity for our students. [They will] learn what it means to be a professional musician, how to connect with people through music even when they cannot connect with them through language, how big and diverse our world is, and how the Church is a force for good throughout the world.” As BYU’s premier concert band, the Wind Symphony has been touring internationally since 1987. In February the ensemble received an invitation to be a featured guest and presenter at the prestigious World Association for Symphonic Bands and Ensembles (WASBE) Conference in Gwangju, South Korea, in July 2024.
Music, Dance, and Ministering
Both in the US and abroad, sunny skies and rolling hills have accompanied BYU Living Legends on their tours over the past 12 months. Following a successful tour across Mexico during summer 2022, Living Legends had the privilege of traveling to New Mexico and Texas in January this year. The group visited Farmington, Shiprock, Albuquerque, El Paso, and Alamogordo. In each city, Living Legends shared Polynesian, Native American, and Latin American culture through dance and music. During their stay, the ensemble put on five performances and hosted three outreach events. Highlights of the trip included their performance at the renowned National Hispanic Cultural Center and their assembly outreach at Shiprock High School, where they got to interact with, instruct, and make memories with students. In May, sunshine will again beckon Living Legends as they embark on an extended tour overseas to New Zealand and French Polynesia, where they will get to enjoy BYU’s famed experiential learning, including traveling to foreign countries, participating in culturally immersive experiences, and sharing their talents with the world. The ensemble will visit Auckland, Hamilton, Napier, and Wellington in New Zealand and Teva I Uta, Papeete, and Moorea in French Polynesia. Living Legends will perform their show Storytellers in these two countries and also participate in young adult Church activities and local outreaches.
Athletics and Performing Arts Come Together
BYU Performing Arts Management (PAM) would like to extend a warm welcome to the BYU Cougarettes, who have joined the student ensembles in the touring program. While the Cougarettes are still housed under BYU Athletics, the PAM team looks forward to producing and marketing festivals, competitions, and performances by the Cougarettes for audiences around the world. Founded in 1946, the Cougarettes have since become one of the most successful dance teams in the country. They perform at BYU athletic events, including football and basketball games, as well as competitions and special events. In addition, the group has gained national recognition for their performances on television, with appearances on ESPN and in the 2002 Winter Olympics. Coached by Stacy Bills and Morgan St. Pierre, the BYU Cougarettes pom and dance team has earned a chart-topping reputation. The two coaches took over in 2019 from longtime coach Jodi Maxfield, who played an integral role in developing the team’s standard of excellence over her 30 years of coaching. Currently, the group holds a grand total of 22 national titles. Most recently the Cougarettes competed in the jazz and hip-hop categories at the NDA Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championship, where they brought home their 21st and 22nd national titles. When asked about returning to coach the Cougarettes, Bills says, “It’s an unbelievable opportunity to help these incredible dancers perform at the highest level and represent BYU.” For two weeks this July, the Cougarettes will visit Europe on their first solo international experience managed by PAM. In Bari, Italy, the group will have the privilege of training and competing with dancers from nearly 35 countries at World Dance Movement’s International Dance Competition. While there, the Cougarettes will also take part in lectures and workshops from world-renowned choreographers and enjoy the culture and beauty of Italy.
Farewell to McKay Crockett, the BYU Vocal Point’s Visionary Director
BYU bids a fond farewell to McKay Crockett, who stepped down from his role as artisticdirector of famed a cappella group Vocal Point. Crockett’s impact on the success of the group isimmeasurable. He has made a significant contribution to shaping the future of a cappellacomposition and performance and has opened up new avenues for growth both for the genre andfor Vocal Point specifically. Crockett’s journey with Vocal Point began more than a decade ago when, as a BYUstudent, he and the other eight members of Vocal Point finished in the top 5 on season three ofNBC’s hit reality show The Sing–Off. Since then, Crockett has been at the forefront of thea cappella music industry, leading by example and setting new standards for success. He hascofounded several ventures and is a world–renowned music director, producer, arranger, andperformance coach. Throughout his career, Crockett has been recognized for his innovation and excellence.He has received numerous awards and honors, including an Emmy in 2017 for his role as musicdirector of BYUtv’s Christmas Under the Stars special. As a producer, he has reached No. 1 onmultiple Billboard charts and iTunes charts. He has also had the opportunity to work withacclaimed artists, such as Kristin Chenoweth, Colbie Caillat, Gladys Knight, and Ben Rector.Crockett’s influence extends beyond commercial success. He has been a mentor andadvisor to many students and performers, helping them to turn their visions into realities. Hisunwavering commitment to making a positive difference in the world has inspired countlesspeople and has left a lasting legacy. In his farewell statement, director of Performing Arts Management and Crockett’slongtime friend Shane Wright said, “McKay has taken Vocal Point to the next level. His skillsetand amazing ability, passion for Vocal Point, and kindness will be greatly missed. He has left avery big hole, and we wish nothing but success to him and his family.”
Welcome: Amy Geis
Performing Arts Management extends a warm welcome to the new artistic director of BYU Noteworthy, Amy Geis. A singer and performer who has been captivating audiences with her passion for music her entire life, Geis was introduced to the world of a cappella in 2017 when she joined BYU Noteworthy as an undergraduate student. She stayed with the group until 2019, when she graduated from BYU with a bachelor’s degree in experience design and management. After graduation, Geis went on to direct Orem High School’s a cappella group, Critical Mass, for three years, leading the group to the ICHSA West Region semifinals in Portland, Oregon. Not only an excellent director, Geis is a seasoned recording artist, having released an album and several singles on her own and contributed recording and songwriting for the Church’s EFY and youth albums. She has performed her original music on Good Things Utah and has been featured on Utah’s hit radio station 97.1 ZHT. Geis met her husband at a Noteworthy show during her first semester performing with the group, and they have been married for more than five years. Their first child, a baby boy, was born in January of this year. As the new director of BYU Noteworthy, Geis has loved every moment working with the singers. Geis’s passion for and dedication to music is evident, and Performing Arts Management is excited to have her as part of the team.
Welcome: Taylor Morris
Fond greetings to Taylor Morris, who in fall 2022 joined the Performing Arts Management team as a new artist manager. Morris has a BFA in music dance theatre with a minor in management and an MPA, both from BYU. After spending the last six years as a program administrator with BYU Continuing Education, he is excited to be working with student performing groups again. Morris has been passionate about music and dance from a young age. His first professional role was at the age of 10 in Pagliacci with the Houston Grand Opera. He was then heavily involved in choirs and musicals in Houston until he started attending BYU. After a year with the BYU Men’s Chorus, he transitioned to musical theater and solo work. He traveled and performed with the BYU Young Ambassadors for three years, spending two of them as the group’s president. Most widely known for his portrayal of John the Beloved in Rob Gardner’s Lamb of God: The Concert Film and subsequent live performances at the Eccles Theater, he also regularly appears onstage at the Hale Center Theater. At Performing Arts Management, Morris is currently serving as the artist manager for Chamber Orchestra, Living Legends, and Synthesis. He sees music as a universal language that helps build bridges of friendship across all borders. Morris and his wife, Bailee, live in Vineyard, Utah, and are the proud parents of four children.
Spring 2023 Encore Photo Highlights
Ballroom Dance Company
International Folk Dance Ensemble