Encore Winter 2015

BYU Singers

Breaking New Ground

BYU Singers has performed at many prominent venues, including St. Mary’s Cathedral in Portland, Oregon.

“Perfect timing.”These are the words Ronald Staheli used to describe the upcoming BYU Singers tour to China in May.

Ron Staheli (facing the choir) has been with the BYU Singers for more than 30 years. Now in his last year as director, he is excited to take the choir to tour China for the first time.

As conductor of BYU’s top choir, Staheli is excited to take the Singers to perform in China—a destination the choir has yet to visit. “We’ve never been to Asia,” he says, “so I’m very happy that we finally get our chance to go.” But the reason this tour is timed perfectly is because, after 30 years as director, Staheli will conduct the choir for the final time. “I’ve had a great opportunity with BYU Singers,” he says. “It’s perfect to be able to end it with a tour in China.”Staheli intends to make this a memorable tour not just for him but for the students and the people they’ll visit in China. “We’ve been blessed with an excellent choir this year,” he says. “They can sing with clarity and precision, and I want them to reach the highest mark they can on this trip.”

"“We’re not going to impress but rather express—express ourselves by transcending language barriers.” —Eric Fonnesbeck"

Eric Fonnesbeck, a senior and a baritone, says that the choir has a responsibility to make a good and lasting impression on the people there. “Although we can’t communicate through speaking, we can communicate through singing,” he says. “We’re not going to impress but rather express—express ourselves by transcending language barriers.”The BYU Singers intend to perform many well-known Western works as well as a few Chinese folk songs. Staheli, who has been working on the song selections since the end of their last tour in summer 2014, says he wants to appeal to the general Chinese audience while also showcasing Western choral music. “Renaissance, classical, romantic, and so on will be a part of our performance, with Chinese pieces woven throughout,” he says.The students are excited to share their talents and passions with other people. “Being able to do what I love and share it with the world is very important to me,” says Ariana Fonnesbeck, a senior alto in the choir. “We have three weeks to take our music to a new level and impart that passion with others around the world.”During their time in China the BYU Singers will visit nine cities over a 21-day period. “This will be a challenging tour for the choir,” says Staheli, “but as we work hard and dedicate ourselves, we will [have] an inspiring experience.”