Encore Fall 2018

BYU Singers

Collaborating Through Song in Vietnam and Indonesia

BYU Singers member Josie Larsen exchanges greetings with one of the children at the YAKKUM Rehabilitation Center in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

BYU Singers raised their voices to celebrate meeting new friends and exploring unique places in Indonesia and Vietnam this past spring.

For their first concert in Jakarta, Indonesia, the students collaborated with the Batavia Madrigal Singers, one of the most prestigious community choirs in the country. The choirs even swapped languages as the Batavia Madrigal Singers sang a special number in English and BYU Singers sang in the Bahasa Indonesian language, after being tutored by the Batavia Madrigal Singers.

Multimedia screens and creative staging enliven the joint performance with BYU Singers and the Maranatha Christian University Choir in Bandung, Indonesia.

The following day, BYU Singers performed national Indonesian songs as part of a celebration for National Education Day organized by Indonesia’s Ministry of Education and Culture. “That was the first time we saw the audience start whispering and then even singing along with us in honor of their nation and country,” says BYU Singers member Tesah Barton. “They were so excited and grateful that we had learned pieces in their language and especially pieces that meant so much to them.”

In the city of Bandung, group members learned to make a traditional Indonesian bamboo instrument called an angklung at Udjo’s House of Angklung. BYU Singers later collaborated with the popular Maranatha Christian University Choir, which also tours internationally.

In Vietnam, BYU Singers performs in the historic Hanoi Opera House in collaboration with the Military University of Culture and Arts Choir.

One morning in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, the students left at 3:00 a.m. to head to the Borobudur Temple, a Buddhist sanctuary that dates back to the ninth century. The group hiked to the top of the stone building to see the sun rise over the tropical landscape. “It was a 360-degree view of beauty and nature,” says Barton.

Later the group gave an outreach performance at a rehabilitation center for handicapped youth. The group members sang for the children and helped them make arts and crafts. “I loved being able to see all the members of the choir interacting with these kids,” says Barton. “The kids were dancing to the music, and that was just really wonderful to see.” The next day, BYU Singers performed with Institut Seni Indonesia’s Vocalista Harmonic Choir.

In Bandung, Indonesia, BYU Singers member Savannah Porter (left) makes a new friend while rehearsing with the Maranatha Christian University Choir.

The group’s final concert in Indonesia was in Bali at the St. Francis Xavier Church, where they collaborated with the Seraphim Children’s Choir, Hallelujah Choir, and Gamaliel Sonora Choir. “It was wonderful to hear the kids and everybody else just singing and loving music,” says Barton. “I think that’s one of the biggest parts of music—to bring joy to others and also bring joy to yourself.”

BYU Singers then traveled to Hanoi, Vietnam, and gave a concert in the historic Hanoi Opera House. In attendance were BYU president Kevin J Worthen, his wife, Peggy, and BYU international vice president Sandra Rogers. The Military University of Culture and Arts Choir performed with BYU Singers and presented President Worthen with a special gift: a picture of the Temple of Literature, the first university in Vietnam. The group’s second collaboration in Hanoi was with the National University of Art Education Choir. A local composer conducted the combined choirs in a musical piece he had composed himself.

In Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), BYU Singers joined the prestigious Saigon Choir for an outstanding concert at the Conservatory of Music Concert Hall. The BYU group also visited Hạ Long Bay, the Reunification Palace, and the Củ Chi Tunnels.

One of the tour highlights was working with and learning from many diverse people. “Hearing the other choirs really enlightened me,” says BYU Singers member Jennifer Bate. “They sing with a lot of energy and conviction because their dynamics and inflections are just spot on. . . . It really inspired me to be an expressive singer.”