Uplifting the People of Brazil
Cloudless skies, bright sun, and picturesque nature scenes will all be part of the Living Legends tour this year. Starting on April 29, the group will travel to Brazil, where they will perform in São Paulo, Paulínia, Campinas, Curitiba, Foz do Iguaçu, Goiânia, Brasília, and Manaus. Living Legends will share Polynesian, Native American, and Latin American cultures through dance and music. Additionally, the group will perform a Brazilian number, “Carimbó,” a dance that originates in the north of Brazil and has native Brazilian, African, and Portuguese heritages. “It will help make the show more relatable to them by seeing familiar content,” says Living Legends stagehand Ioane Camacho. “It’s important to have representation in the narrative of the show because it helps the audience put themselves into that story and helps them feel connected and important.” Some of the anticipated events include a free outdoor street performance under the innovative architecture of the Museum of Art of São Paulo. A few days later, Living Legends will become the first BYU group to perform at Foz do Iguaçu, a Brazilian city bordering both Argentina and Paraguay known for being near the majestic Iguaçu Falls. This performance will celebrate the opening of the first stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the area. Church members and representatives from Paraguay will be in attendance. “The Church members there have worked diligently for many years to get to where they can open up a new stake,” says Camacho. “To add to that with the narrative of the Book of Mormon from our show will help bring more unity and life to the Brazilian members in that area as well as connect them with other members of the Church in Paraguay.”
Jazz in the Caribbean
BYU Synthesis will travel this summer to Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. While there, Synthesis will spend most of their time engrossed in the jazz music that has had a long history in the area. “This music that we spend so much time practicing and perfecting comes naturally to these people because it is native to them,” says trumpet player Clifton Little. “Enjoying this music on its home soil will be unforgettable.” Over the course of the tour, Synthesis will collaborate and interact with local students and musicians who make jazz what it is today. Synthesis will also have the opportunity to connect with members from Cuba’s Ministry of Culture over dinner. When touring in Puerto Rico, Synthesis will provide support for the rebuilding efforts after the destruction of Hurricane Maria, which took the lives of about 3,000 people in 2017. While on tour in the Dominican Republic, Synthesis will perform and exchange with students from the National Conservatory of Music. They hope to learn from each other by uplifting and communing with members in the region. “Actually being able to interact with the people down there will be the most exciting part,” says Little. “It’s a way of having a conversation you can’t express with words and being able to learn what their heart is and see how they live life.” Synthesis will perform in the following cities: Havana, Santiago de Cuba, and Holguín, Cuba; San Juan and Caguas, Puerto Rico; and Santo Domingo and Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic.
Back in Blackpool
BYU’s Ballroom Dance Company will return to Europe this summer for their 2019 tour, visiting cities such as Paris, Brussels, Geneva, Barcelona, and London. A major event in their trip will be the Blackpool Dance Festival, held in Blackpool, England. The Ballroom Dance Company has competed in Blackpool every three years since 1971, often taking first place in both the Latin formation and ballroom formation team categories. Some members of the company will be returning to the competition for a second time. “I did not think it would happen again,” says dancer Matthew Holden, who has been on the team for four years. “Just to be on that stage in that moment in the amazing venue, with people from around the world there wanting to do their best, and to be with my team again—it is going to be the real highlight of the trip.” The group will also take the time to perform for local members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “One of my favorite things is performing for the audiences around Europe,” says Holden. Along with the many shows the group will perform, the Ballroom Dance Company will tour some of the notable landmarks in each country they visit, like the Palace of Versailles, Warwick Castle, and the Sagrada Família church. “I’m really excited to get to visit some of these places that I’ve only seen in pictures,” says dancer Benjamin Ralph. “There’s nothing more energizing than to be able to be with great friends who are a part of this team and explore the different cultures together.”
Ballroom Dance Company
A Milestone Tour to Thailand
Vocal Point A Milestone Tour to Thailand BYU Vocal Point has recently signed a record deal with Universal Music Group’s Decca Gold label and also with IMG Artists. This isn’t the only exciting news for the group, however. In May 2019, Vocal Point will be going on their very first international tour. They will be joining seven other BYU groups for China Spectacular and will afterward travel solo to Thailand. “Vocal Point started in 1991, and for many years the members of the group have been working hard to make an international trip possible,” says Vocal Point beatboxer Matt Newman. “Our mission essentially is to share positive music with as many people as possible. So our tour to China and Thailand is a dream come true for us and the many members of the group that have come before us!” Vocal Point will have the opportunity to interact with the local youth during their tour. They will conduct a workshop for the vocal students of International School Bangkok and will later do a joint concert. Lady Benchapa Krairiksh, a relative of the Thai royal family, will also present a Vocal Point benefit concert, with proceeds going to charity. Their first performances will celebrate the establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Thailand. “I think the best way to celebrate the establishment of the Church in Thailand is to take all possible opportunities to spend time with the members,” says Newman. “On or off the stage, expressing how meaningful the Church is to us creates common ground between us all that we can celebrate together.” Vocal Point is excited to join in on the experience of workshops, service projects, performances, and connecting with people from different parts of the world. “This is a huge milestone for Vocal Point,” says Newman. “I feel grateful to get the chance to be a part of the first international tour. I hope to pass on that spirit of gratitude to those members who come after I graduate. This is an amazing opportunity!”
Celebrating 40 Years of Friendship
Celebrating 40 Years of Friendship BYU’s relationship with China began in 1979, when BYU Young Ambassadors and a few members of the Lamanite Generation, now known as BYU Living Legends, received an invitation to perform in China. With all of their equipment and costumes, the group arrived in China in July, ready to perform. They were among the first American groups to enter the country in years. Before having the approval to perform anywhere in the country, the group had to give a spontaneous performance for government officials at the airport. At the end of their performance, they got approval and went on to perform for more than 28,000 audience members in prestigious concert halls, factories, and universities. BYU was invited back the very next year, during which CCTV filmed the show for a televised event. Thereafter, the Young Ambassadors show was televised in China repeatedly. “People knew us like crazy,” says Young Ambassadors director Randy Boothe. “When we went back in 1983, the most well-known American universities in China were Stanford, Harvard, and BYU—BYU because they had seen them on TV many times from the previous years.” Continued Camaraderie The 1979 China tour opened many doors and helped strengthen the friendship between BYU and China. In the past 39 years, BYU performing groups have returned to China 28 more times. One professional group that performs all over China, the Shanghai Song and Dance Troupe, had the opportunity to perform at BYU when they were in the United States in 1982, thanks to Boothe. Boothe was assisting with the grand opening of Epcot at Walt Disney World and, through his connections, brought the Shanghai Song and Dance Troupe to perform at the event. Afterward, the group performed in the Marriott Center at BYU, where they also held workshops with the university’s artistic groups. The shared artistic friendship—grown through various exchanges through the decades—was strengthened again in 2017. Dancers and musicians from the Minzu University of China shared a stage with BYU International Folk Dance Ensemble during BYU’s Christmas Around the World show in Provo. The students from China stayed at BYU for about a month, making friends and learning more about the arts in the US as they rehearsed with the Folk Dancers. Between rehearsals, the students shared snacks from their countries and played card games. “One of the most beautiful things about music is that you can be from China or from Utah and after a couple of days jamming together, you’re all good friends,” says International Folk Dance Ensemble musician Jake Goehring. During the 2019 tour to China, International Folk Dance Ensemble plans to visit the Minzu University of China and greet their friends. “It’ll be awesome because we’ll recognize each other, and we’ll already have established a vibe from performing together,” says Goehring. China Spectacular 2019 On May 17 of this year, a cast of more than 200 BYU students will travel to China. China Spectacular 2019 will be the biggest show to date, combining eight groups from BYU to make one grand production that showcases the best of what the university has to offer. With venues in Beijing, Xi’an, and Shanghai, the show will include performances from Living Legends, International Folk Dance Ensemble, the Ballroom Dance Company, Young Ambassadors, Vocal Point, the Chamber Orchestra, the Cougarettes, and the Dunk Team with Cosmo. “The show’s theme is based on five circles of aspects that are important to our lives,” says producer Michael Handley: family, harmony, friendship, learning, and love. He adds, “The show is highly entertaining, energetic, fun, and lively.” Each group was carefully chosen to bring China Spectacular to life and help celebrate the 40 years of friendship between BYU and China. While many members of Living Legends and the Ballroom Dance Company will be on other tours in Brazil and Europe, those groups are lending a few alumni to represent them during the China tour. “It is the largest, most complex tour we’ve ever taken abroad,” says executive producer Jeff Ringer. “We hope that this tour will be a great experience for the student performers and great entertainment for the audiences. Beyond that, we hope the show helps raise the profile of BYU and highlights the deep academic connections between BYU and China.” The students are also getting excited about this huge collaboration. “By us performing and being good examples of talent and kindness, it can bring more peace for us as a people and bring more joy through the universal language of music and dance,” says Chamber Orchestra member Jamie Baker. While they wait for the other groups to arrive, the BYU Chamber Orchestra will perform at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. They plan to ask locals for help with one of their numbers. “It requires extra players,” says Baker, “so we’ll have some players from the areas we visit who will sit in and play with our orchestra, which will be exciting.” Many of the groups have translated pieces into Chinese in honor of the tour. Additionally, the students are enrolled in a culture class where they learn traditions of the Chinese people and a bit of Mandarin, so they can speak with audience members and friends. “It’s been really such a wonderful relationship with China,” says Boothe, “and we’re so excited to go back and continue building that friendship that’s been going now for 40 years.”
Amy Whitcomb’s Vision
BYU Performing Arts Management is pleased to announce that Amy Whitcomb has accepted the position as artistic director of BYU Noteworthy. Her past experience makes her a valuable addition. “I learned early on that you can’t put yourself in a box,” says Whitcomb. “Having such variety and working with tons of people has helped me think outside of this box. I don’t see Noteworthy in a box. I see their potential. I still have a lot to learn, but I’m prepared to take on the reins.” An alumna of Brigham Young University, Whitcomb majored in commercial music, graduating in April 2011. During her time at BYU, she was a member of Noteworthy, appearing with the group on the television show The Sing-Off. Whitcomb later returned to The Sing-Off with a female group called Delilah, which placed in the top six of the competition. In 2013 she appeared on The Voice, where she made many connections that led her to sing with a cappella group Vocalocity, founded by Deke Sharon, the musical mastermind behind the 2012 film Pitch Perfect. This year, Noteworthy performed in Elko, Nevada, and in the Texas cities of Austin, Dallas, and Houston. Noteworthy has focused on empowerment and being role models to their audiences of all ages. “I love Noteworthy’s message,” says BYU alumnus and Texas presenter Joseph Fluckiger. “I think it is so good for the youth to hear a message about loving yourself and coming to terms with who you are and not what the world thinks or tells you who it thinks you should be.” With her vision for the group, Whitcomb plans on making Noteworthy more than an a cappella group on campus. “I want to foster and hone in on what makes Noteworthy unique naturally. I want to use the fact that we are women with strong values, with testimonies of Christ, and with purpose and understanding of who we are,” says Whitcomb. “I want to spread light and goodness in many shapes and forms.”
Honoring Ira A. Fulton
For their midsemester tour in October, the BYU Ballroom Dance Company took to the road to Southern Utah and Arizona. While touring, the company visited with philanthropist Ira A. Fulton, who has given and continues to give charitable donations to colleges throughout Arizona and Utah. “We are so grateful for Mr. Fulton. His generosity truly allows us to reach for the stars and make our dreams come true,” says Curt Holman, director of the Ballroom Dance Company. The company honored Fulton’s legacy by performing numbers from their show Come Alive at Fulton’s home in Chandler, Arizona. The 20-minute performance for Fulton and his family and friends was followed by lunch and a tour of his house. “It’s really a privilege and honor to have you here today,” Fulton told the Ballroom Dance Company. “I just think so much of you and want you to know that I love you.” On tour the company also performed in St. George, Utah, and in the Arizona cities of Holbrook, Show Low, Tucson, Queen Creek, Mesa, and Surprise, where they mingled with audience members, BYU alumni, and hosts.
Ballroom Dance Company
Bringing Love and Light
While on tour this February, Young Ambassadors performed their show Welcome Home in Las Vegas and in the California cities of Pasadena, Bakersfield, Agoura Hills, Long Beach, Poway, and Riverside. In each city, they held workshops and assemblies at local schools and academies, teaching performance and band techniques. In Pasadena, Young Ambassadors visited a local homeless shelter and the Pasadena Ronald McDonald House for children awaiting surgeries at local hospitals. They talked with residents, played with children, provided service, and performed. “I was overcome with a sense of love,” says performer Hannah Dalley, “and a desire to want to lift them up and help them.” Nine members of the group performed selections of their show for inmates at the California Institution for Women (CIW) in Chino. “We are grateful for this,” says CIW missionary Larry Fugate. “We [were] just trying to bring light with their performance. We have seen miracles and the joy of music in the concerts we have had.”
Arts in the Rockies
This March, BYU International Folk Dance Ensemble embarked on a tour to Wyoming and Colorado. They performed in Green River, Wyoming, and in the Colorado cities of Longmont, Colorado Springs, Alamosa, Sterling, La Junta, and Loveland. The group also held workshops with Synergy Dance Academy and other local schools. “Workshops are fun because you have that one-to-one connection with people,” says dancer Isaiah Vela. “[It’s] something that you don’t get with a performance.” Of their tour Vela says, “Colorado has so much love for the arts, and as a group we bring the love for dance and cultures. It’s not common to see a group that can perform dances from all over the world. We felt appreciated.”
International Folk Dance Ensemble
This May, BYU Singers will tour Northern California and Nevada, collaborating with high schools and performing at religious institutions, including two cathedrals. In Fairfield, California, the Singers hope to change students’ lives through the local community organization Music for Our Children. “Ever since the downturn, our music programs have been gutted, and we seek to restore that,” says Joan Gaut, board member for the local school district and board chair for Music for Our Children. “We don’t have music education in our community, and with [the BYU Singers visit] we can show [the kids] what is possible later down the road.” Also in California, BYU Singers will collaborate with Danville’s Monte Vista High School choirs (in Walnut Creek) and with the Castro Valley High School choral program in Castro Valley, each of which BYU Singers director Dr. Andrew Crane either worked with or competed against in his youth. During those visits, the Singers will provide vocal instruction for the students and hold combined public concerts. Additional concerts will be in Reno, Nevada; and San Jose, Fresno, Modesto, and Merced, California.
Heart of Texas
The BYU Wind Symphony will travel to the Texas cities of Allen, Arlington, Haltom City, Cypress, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio this May. Texas chapters in the BYU Alumni Association are helping the symphony by organizing concerts in local communities. “We love having the performing arts groups come. It brings the spirit of the Y to Dallas,” says Corrine Nelson, chair of the BYU Alumni Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter. “They get the kids and the community involved, and it gives the community a chance to see what good music can do for us.” The Wind Symphony will be traveling with Dr. Jason Bergman, a BYU trumpet professor who previously worked at the University of North Texas College of Music. “Band is big in Texas,” says Bergman. “I think it’s great to have the Wind Symphony going to Texas to show how they can relate to the music culture there.” In many of their venues, the Wind Symphony will give hands-on workshops to high school students. “I can’t wait to perform for the communities and especially to perform for the students. I’m so excited,” says clarinet player Emily Hardisty. “For me, Texas is home.”
Festival in the Northwest
BYU Theatre Ballet will take its beloved Sleeping Beauty show to Washington and Oregon in May. “We’re performing an excerpt of one of the most famous ballets,” says dancer Courtney Barclay. At each show, Theatre Ballet dancers will welcome the young and young at heart to their Prince and Princess Party, where audience members will be able to dress up, take photos, and interact with the dancers. “I just love to meet all the people that come to our performances,” says Barclay. “It’s so fun to see all their smiling faces and hear what brought them to our performance. It connects us to states and people across the nation.” Prior to the tour, Theatre Ballet will attend workshops and perform at the Regional Dance America 2019 Pacific Festival in Spokane, Washington. “We get to take master classes from amazing guest teachers and choreographers that are from leading companies across the nation, which can help us build ties,” says Barclay. After the convention, Theatre Ballet will perform in the following cities: Spokane, Clarkston, and Kennewick, Washington; and Portland, Astoria, and Ontario, Oregon.