BYU Students Share the Stage with Broadway Star

January 20, 2021 09:00 AM

Philippines, 2017 | Sources: Kory Katseanes, BYU Chamber Orchestra conductor; Justin Smith, BYU tour manager; Zoë Jorgenson and Grant Taylor, BYU students; Lea Salonga, Broadway singer

“In May 2017, BYU students in the Chamber Orchestra were given the opportunity of a lifetime when they got the chance to share the stage with one of Broadway’s biggest stars, Lea Salonga. Lea has a worldwide reputation, and our BYU students performed with her on the stage at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, which has a reputation of being the ‘Carnegie Hall of the Philippines.’ This concert was the culmination of a lot of work that happened for about two years. In addition, the BroadwayWorld 2020 Awards named our album, The Story of My Life: Lea Salonga Live from Manila, as the best solo release in 2020! This was such an unexpected delight. There’s so much to the backstory of this project. That it still has such resonance and relevance is a tribute to BYU, the School of Music, Performing Arts Management, and so many.”
— Kory Katseanes, Conductor

“I remember sitting in the office with Kory Katseanes, and he said, ‘Wouldn’t it be incredible to give our students the opportunity to perform with a big star? Someone like Lea Salonga, who is from the Philippines.’ It went from this idea of ‘wouldn’t this be fun if’ to the reality of having our BYU students perform onstage with the Broadway star twice, both on BYU campus and in her hometown of Manila. ‘The world,’ as we say at BYU, ‘is our campus.’ We are doing this for the students. We want to enhance their education by giving them what BYU president Kevin Worthen calls ‘inspiring learning.’”
— Justin Smith, Tour Manager

“To work with a world-class musician brings you up. It lifts your abilities and makes you want to work harder, makes you want to play better.”
— Zoë Jorgenson, Double Bass


“She’s expecting us to sound great. Everybody is bringing their A game. Which is exactly what we want—we want to be pushed out of our comfort zone. That’s the whole point.”
— Grant Taylor, Percussion

“The first time I got to perform with the Chamber Orchestra in Provo at the de Jong Concert Hall, I didn’t know what to expect. There is an eagerness that comes with a student orchestra. From the first downbeat it was like, ‘And we know, and I can relax and I can just do my job.’ And then I knew it was going to be a really wonderful time. I think everyone was thrilled all around.”
— Lea Salonga, Broadway Singer

View how this experience impacted the student musicians in this documentary.