I’ve had an incredible time at BYU this past week. I’ve been helping prepare the BYU Men’s Chorus for their big concert this Friday and Saturday where they premiered two of my arrangements: “Press Forward, Saints,” and “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go” for their new album: Set Apart (available April 5th as a free download).
Since BYU doesn’t have spring break, this has been my first one in about ten years. My original goal of spring break was to compose at a friend’s house up Hobble Creek Canyon and attend rehearsals. In reality, I did very little composing and spent much more time preparing these pieces.
I had the opportunity to attend rehearsals almost every day and fix things here, give advice there, and generally make a nuisance of myself. There was a bit of hiccup with the accompaniment that required me to rewrite the piano and cello parts for “I’ll Go,” in just one hour, but it was an interesting challenge that became a good learning experience.
I had the blessing of attending their Friday night concert with my sister and a wonderful, random reunion with a great friend from the London study abroad. Also serendipitously, seated in the row in front of me was the composer and poet for “Press Forward, Saints,” Vanya Watkins and Marvin Gardner! ”Press Forward” has been one of my favorite hymns ever and these two a heros of mine. How wonderfully random is that?!
The men did such a fantastic job at their concert (which was incredibly ambitious!) and really knocked it out of the park on my pieces. I have to admit, I started to get misty as they sang “I’ll Go” because it brought back so many memories of my mission in Ireland as well as opening my mission call.
After the concert, these men stayed after for an hour for a recording session of “Press Froward, Saints.” I was floored at their stamina, dedication, and enthusiasm with this project. Everyone around was being very particular about getting it right. What an incredible ensemble to work with. For me, it’s the same reason I enjoyed working with the Chancel Choir at St. Andrew’s in Plano. They were committed to sharing the message as well as striving to be as excellent as they possibly could.
Probably the best part about spring break though was visiting with friends and members of my family. I miss them dearly and felt so privileged to see (and sing with) them again.