Choirs at Brigham Young University

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The choirs at Brigham Young University (BYU) consist of four auditioned choirs: the BYU Singers, the Concert Choir, the Men's Chorus, and the Women's Chorus. Each choir is highly accomplished and performs from an extensive repertoire. Together, the choirs have recorded and released a total of 23 albums. The choirs perform throughout the academic year. Admission into each choir is by audition, carried out in the weeks leading up to the fall semester. Each ensemble requires a two-semester commitment.

The BYU Singers[edit]

BYU Singers is a small, flexible group of approximately 40 musicians. Founded in 1984 by Ronald Staheli, the choir's repertoire encompasses a range of musical eras and styles, including Renaissance through contemporary choral music; also Broadway, the American songbook, spirituals, folk songs, and hymns. They have performed in Western and Eastern Europe, including the former Soviet Union, Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Australia, New Zealand, Ghana, Benin, Togo and South Africa. The group also performs regularly in concerts throughout the United States and has appeared on national television in four programs created for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.[1]

BYU Singers is the only choir to sing at all three of America's top choral conventions in the same year.[2] They were invited to open the ACDA Convention in Los Angeles in 2005,[1] and were one of four collegiate choirs invited to perform in San Antonio, Texas for the first conference of the National Collegiate Choral Organization in 2006. Jo-Michael Scheibe, former president of ACDA Western Division, has said of the choir, "If I had to settle on just one adjective for [the] ensemble, it would be `stunning'! I am not alone in this opinion . . . [the] group's ability to change the choral sound within the variety of musical styles was simply astounding. The combination of superb musicianship and flexibility produced some of the finest musical sound ACDA has ever heard."[3]

In April 2009, the BYU Singers attended the Cork International Choral Festival where they were awarded the PEACE Award. The PEACE Award "is awarded to a choir who touched the hearts’ of all who heard them and exemplified the intentions of the trophy’s benefactors, the P. E. A. C. E. Movement, Cork. . . Festival audiences are many and varied. They are represented not just by those who attend the Gala Concerts and Competitive Sessions, but by those who listen to choirs in their church visits, and informal performances throughout the week of the festival." [4]

BYU Singers has been featured on eight solo recordings, including two collections of works by Eric Whitacre, and on several other recordings with the combined choirs at BYU. has praised the group saying, "the Brigham Young University Singers present a captivating performance of vocal music...and enthralls audiences of every kind." [5]

Andrew Crane became the director of the choir following the retirement of Staheli in 2015.[6]

Concert Choir[edit]

BYU Concert Choir conducted by Rosalind Hall

The BYU Concert Choir is a mixed chorus of approximately 90 men and women. This select group performs a wide variety of choral repertoire ranging from the Renaissance to modern, and all from memory. The choir was first organized in 1984 by Mack Wilberg, who has also written a number of songs and arrangements specifically for the ensemble. When Wilberg left BYU in 1999 to become an assistant conductor for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Rosalind Hall stepped in to conduct the Concert Choir.[citation needed]

The choir has performed at the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) convention and with the Utah Symphony. The Concert Choir mostly performs in the de Jong Concert Hall on the BYU Campus, with an occasional trip to other local venues.

The choir has released two albums on Tantara Records: "All Creatures of Our God and King" and "Beautiful River". The latter recording, featuring "Five Hebrew Love Songs" by Eric Whitacre, has been praised by saying that it "proves to us that the [BYU Concert Choir] is ready to take its place as one of the best mixed choirs in the world." [5] In 2006, the Concert Choir performed the premiere of two works by Mack Wilberg: "Till All Eternity Shall Ring," and "Dances to Life."[7]

Men's Chorus[edit]

The BYU Men's Chorus, the largest collegiate male choir in the United States,[8] originally started in 1901 at BYU as "Male Glee". Anthony C. Lund directed the choir until the 1920s; then the choir came under the direction of Florence Jepperson Madsen and her husband, Franklin Madsen, with short periods under William F. Hanson and John R. Halliday.[9] In 1955, the Male Chorus became an official class at BYU, conducted by Ralph Woodward, until his retirement in 1984. Mack Wilberg became conductor of the ensemble in 1984, and the name was changed to Men's Chorus. Men's Chorus increased its reputation and gained fame through performances on the BYU campus and on short tours, as well as through nationally broadcast videos on PBS of "A Celebration of Christmas" (first broadcast in 1993), "A Thanksgiving of American Folk Hymns" (1995) and "Songs of Praise and Remembrance" (1999). In 1999, Wilberg was replaced as choral director by Rosalind Hall, a native of Wales.[8]

The choir has performed at the ACDA conventions, and performs frequently to sold-out audiences. Over 400 men audition for the choir yearly, with between 170 and 185 of them chosen to join the choir. The repertoire frequently includes Latin and classical pieces, folk songs from various countries, LDS music, and well-known American pieces.

The choir released two albums of anthems, folk songs, and hymns under the direction of Wilberg (released by Deseret Book: Shout With Glory - 1995, and Awake My Soul - 1997). Under the direction of Hall, the choir has released three additional albums. "Praise Him", released by Tantara Records in 2005, was a third volume of anthems, folk songs, and hymns as a follow-up to the successful previous two albums. In 2008, "Live and Kicking," an album of live performance recordings of more upbeat repertoire, which was self-produced was released. In 2013, another self-produced album, "Set Apart", was released in response to the increase in the number of missionaries serving, after the October 2012 announcement by Thomas S. Monson lowering the minimum age for service of missionaries. As a gift to missionaries and others throughout the world, it was determined that the album would be the first ever album from a BYU choir released free of charge to the public as a download.[10]

Women's Chorus[edit]

The BYU Women's Chorus is made up of about 180 singers and performs a large number of concerts throughout the year. Formerly conducted by a number of different faculty and graduate students, since 2005 the choir has now come under the direction of Jean Simons Applonie, who also founded and conducted the Utah-based women's choir Viva Voce. When Applonie became the director of the BYU Women's Choirs in 2004 she became the first faculty member to serve as its director. Prior to that it had been directed by graduate students.[11]

The Women's Chorus was featured with the Wind Symphony on BYU's 2006 Homecoming Spectacular[12] and its subsequent worldwide broadcast on KBYU-TV.

In 2008 the choir released its first solo recording "Wondrous Love" and has appeared on several albums featuring the combined choirs.

Past choirs[edit]

The BYU Madrigal Singers were formed in 1952 under the direction of John R. Halliday. Halliday (1911–1988) had bachelor's and master's degrees in music from BYU and a Ph.D. from the Eastman School of Music.[13] He had also been an assistant director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir under J. Spencer Cornwall.[14] For the ten years before the forming of the Madrigal Singers, Halliday had been the director of the BYU band. The Madrigal Singers toured extensively during the 1950s. The BYU Oratorio Choir was formed in 1961, also under Halliday's direction, with the goal of performing oratorios, cantatas and the like. Other BYU singing groups organized between 1951 and 1975 included the BYU Chamber Choir, the Golden Age Singers, the BYU A Cappella Choir, the BYU Opera Workshop Chorus, and Scola Cantorum.[15]

The choirs in a combined setting[edit]

The choirs perform together frequently throughout the year with a combined total of over 500 singers. Together, they perform a cappella, accompanied by keyboard or with the BYU Philharmonic. They have performed Mahler's Second Symphony, Fauré's Requiem, Orff's Carmina Burana, and a variety of masses. Occasionally, the choirs are invited to provide music for a session of an LDS Church general conference,[16] which is broadcast worldwide. The combined choirs, along with the philharmonic, are featured in four hour-long PBS broadcasts: Thanksgiving of American Folk Hymns, Celebration of Christmas, Songs of Praise and Remembrance, and The Pilgrim's Journey Home.

One of the most frequent combinations is Concert Choir with Singers. Together, these choirs have performed numerous works including Robert Cundick's The Redeemer, Johannes Brahms' "How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place," from Ein deutsches Requiem,[17] William Walton's Belshazzar's Feast,[18] Eric Whitacre's "Her Sacred Spirit Soars," and most recently, Edward Elgar's "Lux Aeterna".


  • A Thanksgiving of American Folk Hymns (BYU Combined Choirs & Philharmonic - 1994) - available on CD and DVD
  • A Celebration of Christmas (BYU Combined Choirs & Philharmonic - 1995) - available on CD and DVD
  • The Redeemer (BYU Concert Choir, Singers & Philharmonic - 1996)
  • We Sing of Christ (BYU Singers - 1997)
  • All Creatures of Our God and King (BYU Concert Choir - 1999)
  • Live at Carnegie Hall (BYU Singers - 1999)
  • Songs of Praise and Remembrance (BYU Combined Choirs & Philharmonic - 2000) - available on CD and DVD
  • Songs of the Soul (BYU Singers - 2000)
  • I Believe this Is Jesus (BYU Singers - 2001)
  • Eric Whitacre: The Complete A Cappella Works (BYU Singers - 2003)
  • The Road Home (BYU Combined Choirs - 2003)
  • Echoes of the Sabbath (BYU Combined Choirs & Philharmonic - 2003)
  • My Redeemer Lives (BYU Singers - 2004)
  • Mahler: Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, "Resurrection" (BYU Philharmonic & Combined Choirs - 2005)
  • Praise Him (BYU Men's Chorus - 2005)
  • The Restoration Oratorio by Merrill Bradshaw (first recorded in 1974; remastered and released as CD in 2005; BYU Combined Choirs & Philharmonic)
  • Beautiful River (BYU Concert Choir - 2005)
  • The Secret of Christmas (BYU Singers - 2007)
  • Brigham Young University Choirs and Eric Whitacre 2 (BYU Singers, Concert Choir & Women's Chorus - 2008)
  • Wondrous Love (BYU Women's Chorus - 2008)
  • Live and Kicking (BYU Men's Chorus - 2009)
  • O Peace of Christ (BYU Singers - 2010)
  • The Pilgrim's Journey Home (BYU Combined Choir & Philharmonic - 2010)
  • I Stand All Amazed: Peaceful Hymns of Devotion (BYU Combined Choirs - 2012)
  • Set Apart: Beloved Missionary Hymns (BYU Men's Chorus - 2013)


  1. ^ a b ""News Release: BYU Singers to open this week's American Choral Directors Association Convention" from the website". Archived from the original on 2007-06-07. Retrieved 2019-04-28.
  2. ^ "Y. singers to finish a 'grand slam' tour", Deseret News, Oct 29, 2006
  3. ^ "BYU Performing Arts Management Website". Archived from the original on 2008-03-02. Retrieved 2008-07-11.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-09-17. Retrieved 2009-08-24.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ a b Review of CDs by BYU Choirs, Dec 2006
  6. ^ "BYU Choirs: Andrew Crane". Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  7. ^ "BYU Concert Choir to perform works by Whitacre and Wilberg March 18". 1 March 2006.
  8. ^ a b Jackie Fletcher, "Brigham Young University men's choir to perform", Dixie Sun News, March 21, 2007
  9. ^ Dr. Ralph Woodward obituary, Daily Herald, 9/8/2005
  10. ^ "Set Apart".
  11. ^ BYU Magazine, Spring 2009, p. 17
  12. ^ "BYU news release". Archived from the original on 2006-11-30. Retrieved 2008-12-31.
  13. ^ Oral History interview with Halliday jointly sponsored by the BYU archives and BYU Alumni Association Emeritus Club
  14. ^ "Salt Lake Mormon Tabernacle Choir Discography".
  15. ^ Ernest L. Wilkinson and Leonard J. Arrington, ed., Brigham Young University: The First 100 Years (Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1975) Vol. 3, p. 388–391
  16. ^ Saturday Afternoon Session, April 2008: "Conference Summary for the 178th Annual General Conference", Liahona, May 2008.
  17. ^ Forum uncovers Brahms' requiem
  18. ^ "William Walton's "Belshazzar's Feast" to be performed at BYU Nov. 9-10". Archived from the original on 2012-07-09. Retrieved 2008-11-24.

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