Posted April 1st, 2013 by BYU Men's Chorus with 1 Comment
For the first time ever, the Brigham Young University (BYU) Men’s Chorus, the largest collegiate men’s choir in the nation, will share its newest collection of hymns as free MP3 downloads.
Set Apart: Beloved Missionary Hymns is being released at a time when the missionary work worldwide for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is experiencing a dramatic increase, due in large part to the recent age requirement reduction. The album, created as a gift to all who share in the love of missionary work, will be available for download free of charge at setapartalbum.com on April 5, 2013.
“If any group in the whole world should make a missionary CD, it’s the BYU Men’s Chorus,” said Rosalind Hall, director of the choir. “You feel that tremendous power coming from them when they sing and the enormous collective goodness that they emanate. There’s nothing in the world that could be a stronger power for good than that.”
Set Apart includes 10 new arrangements of beloved hymns created especially for the choir. The songs were thoughtfully selected to especially honor prospective and current missionaries, all who share in the growing spirit and energy of missionary work, and people of all faiths. Over 60 percent of the current 180-member choir has served missions and many others await mission assignments.
“This is a truly monumental recording that will bless and inspire many lives,” said Kory Katseanes, chair of the BYU School of Music.
Notable arrangers, including Matthew D. Nielsen, David Zabriskie, and Lane Johnson generously forfeited licensing rights so the BYU Men’s Chorus could offer the hymns in this album for free.
“The Men’s Chorus allows me to not only learn new music and increase my musical talents, but to share my testimony with those who come to our concerts and listen to our recordings,” said Josh Wood, member of the BYU Men’s Chorus, who served in the Michigan Lansing mission.
Stephen Jones, Dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communications, is very pleased with the choir’s work. “Testimony is felt in every phrase of this very impressive offering that honors all those who have served missions, and will inspire all who desire to share the gospel.”
Currently, among LDS youth, there is great fervor and excitement around missionary work, with “nearly five times the typical number of [missionary applications]” according to Salt Lake City’s Deseret News.
“Ever since President Monson made that announcement at General Conference, there’s been a tremendous upsurge in the level of excitement about the missionary program” Hall said. “Every time the Men’s Chorus sings, the moment they open their mouths, they are doing missionary work.”
Posted March 2nd, 2012 by BYU Men's Chorus with 1 Comment
Every year, Sister Hall tells the choir about the parable of the wine bottles. It goes something like this:
“There was once a wedding and all of the numerous guests were asked to bring a bottle of wine to help with the celebrations. They would all be added together into one giant cask, and then served to everyone through a spigot.
“One guest, upon thinking about how expensive a bottle of wine is, decided that he would take an old bottle and fill it with water. He rationalized to himself that one bottle diluting so many wouldn’t make a discernable difference.
“On the day of the wedding he dutifully emptied his bottle and then stepped back and everyone else added the contents of their bottles. The top of the barrel was closed, and it was tapped. The groom and bride came forward to pour the first glass together, and much to their surprise, out of the tap poured pure, clear water.
“Every guest had the same idea. They all thought they could get away with less than a full bottle of wine and that no one would notice.”
Sister Hall then explains, much like those wedding guests, we as singers can be tempted to not bring our best to every rehearsal or performance. We can rationalize that one voice among so many won’t be noticed, but it isn’t so.
Each one of us needs to sing at our very best, every day, if we want to reach our greatest potential as a group. If one man doesn’t, then the others might not as well, and the group will suffer as a whole.
She then has us commit to bring a full bottle of figurative wine to every rehearsal, and on days when the choir seems antsy or not fully engaged she will remind us of our commitment. Remember to bring your full bottle of wine.
Posted February 23rd, 2012 by BYU Men's Chorus with 1 Comment
Within the Men’s Chorus, we have many goals and aspirations that we are shooting for, not least among those being the goals of providing powerful and moving musical performances and “being what you seem.” It truly is a blessing to be surrounded by such wonderful music each and every day of the week and to share in an hour with 180 other men. However, we have a greater goal, a greater purpose than simply to fill the Madsen Recital Hall on Brigham Young University’s campus with great music for one short hour on any given weekday: our purpose is to do all that we can to change the world.
Changing the world can seem like an overwhelming task at first glance. There is so much that could be changed about the world, so much suffering and injustice, that it can be difficult to comprehend what influence one individual can have to bring about change. Indeed, as we look at the world around us, it can be easy to slip into despair brought about by all that is wrong or less than ideal in the lives of so many people. That is where the individual has the greatest power to change the world. Consider a time in your own life when you felt you were losing your grip on the situations around you, when you were uncertain where to turn. More often than not, during those times in my own life, there have been small, otherwise insignificant events that have helped me to find the strength to carry on. Sometimes it is a smile from a friend or simple encouragement from a mentor, other times it is a reminder in various form that there is a God in Heaven, and that He is ever mindful of my needs and circumstances.
The power of one voice is great. One ray of sunshine in an ominous cloud provides hope for a better tomorrow. The power of many voices, united in purpose, is immense. When hundreds of rays of sunshine gather together and combine their light, darkness is banished.
Last fall, the BYU Men’s Chorus had the opportunity to perform with Brian Stokes Mitchell, an amazing performer of Broadway fame and an inspiring individual. One of the songs we sang with him was “The Impossible Dream” from the Broadway musical Man of La Mancha. As we rehearsed this song over and over, I gained a deep appreciation for the lyrics, especially those that close the song. The entire song discusses the valor in reaching for your dreams and in trying to do what we know to be right, and closes with these words:
And the world will be better for this,
That one man, scorned and covered in scars,
Still strove, with his last ounce of courage,
To reach the unreachable star!
I truly believe that the world can be better because of one voice speaking out for good, and that as many voices join together in that common cause, amazing things will be accomplished. This year and always, our quest within the BYU Men’s Chorus is to fulfill the scriptural injunction to “lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees” through our music and through the lives that we live. Our hope is that, in so doing, we will change the world, one voice at a time.
Posted February 12th, 2012 by BYU Men's Chorus with 1 Comment
This is the first in a series of posts about the philosophy that guides the BYU Men’s
Chorus. We use these principles to guide us in our singing and our lives outside the
auditorium. I hope that it will be an illuminating look at what happens behind the scenes,
and maybe provide some inspiration to live life the BYU Men’s Chorus Way.
During our concerts you can see a crest emblazoned over the heart of every man. Besides
making us look dashing and uniform, our crest also reminds us of our core principle.
Esse Quam Videri; it is Latin for “Being what you seem” or “To be rather than to seem.”
It is a reminder that we need to be true to ourselves and all that we stand for.
While it is a simple statement, it is a difficult thing to do. While no man is perfect,
to be true is an exhortation to be our best. To approach that unobtainable goal is a
difficult road that entails pushing ourselves to do our best. Not just when rehearsing and
performing, but in every aspect of our lives. The way we live our own personal lives will
have an effect on how we perform. As Sister Hall likes to tell us, “Being excellent is the
Most Wednesdays after we warm up, someone will get up and explain how they use Esse
Quam Videri in their own life. Often they use scripture or anecdotes to give the Latin
phrase more meaning. My personal favorite comes from the great bard, Shakespeare, in
Hamlet, “This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as night the day,
Though canst not then be false to any man.”
I don’t think I can phrase it any better. May we all be truer to ourselves and our fellow
man. Esse Quam Videri!
Posted January 13th, 2012 by BYU Men's Chorus with No Comments