BYU Men’s Chorus + Spring Break

IMG_0067I’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).

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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?!

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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.

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The Pure River Flows Premiere

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This has been a couple of crazy weeks! Was in Dallas for ACDA then Plano for St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church and now Utah for the BYU Men’s Chorus.  I’ll talk about ACDA and Men’s Chorus later, but for right now, St. Andrew’s.

I had the opportunity to hear the premiere of “The Pure River Flows.”  It was a wonderful experience.  The Chancel Choir at St. Andrew’s was a very dedicated and enthusiastic ensemble.  It was a joy to work with singers that are dedicated to the words and to communicating that with an audience/congregation.  They’re all very lovely people and I felt very welcome by everyone there. I’ve received some very lovely emails from members of the choir about how they loved singing the music.  I hope to work with them again soon.

Here’s a recording from that morning:

We know not a voice of that River,
If vocal or silent it be,
Where for ever and ever and ever
It flows to no sea.

More deep than the seas is that River,
More full than their manifold tides,
Where for ever and ever and ever
It flows and abides.

Pure gold is the bed of that River
(The gold of that land is the best),
Where for ever and ever and ever
It flows on at rest.

Oh goodly the banks of that River,
Oh goodly the fruits that they bear,
Where for ever and ever and ever
It flows and is fair.

For lo! on each bank of that River
The Tree of Life life-giving grows,
Where for ever and ever and ever
The Pure River flows.

– Christina Rossetti

The Pure River Flows

“The Pure River Flows” Premiere + Everyone Sang Now Available

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Hey Friends,

A week from tomorrow, my new commission, “The Pure River Flows,” will be premiered at St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Plano, Texas the day after ACDA wraps up.  I’m very excited to finally hear this brought to life by the Choir there under the direction of Chris Crook!  It’s going to be a great time I can tell.  In other news, I will also be performing a solo at the same service!  I will be singing “I Stand All Amazed.”

In addition to all of this, “Everyone Sang” is now available for purchase through Hal Leonard’s website as well as through JW Pepper. It will be available for purchase at ACDA in Dallas this next week!  If you’re attending, I’ll see you there!

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