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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Life Goal: Sing in the Conference Center...check!

This year the BYU Men's Chorus, along with the men of the Concert Choir, BYU Singers, and various alumni of the choirs were asked to sing in the Priesthood Session of General Conference. I've always dreamed about having the opportunity to sing in that marvelous building. We prepared three wonderful pieces: God Loved Us So He Sent His Son arr. Danny McDavitt, Choose The Right arr. Rosalind Hall, and finally The Iron Rod arr. Dr. Ronald Staheli. Each song had a unique feel and spirit involved. Danny's arrangement was simple, elegant, reflective, and humble. It was a great way to open the conference. Sister Hall's arrangement was lush, dense, Eric Whitacre-ized, stunning, and unlike anything I've ever heard at conference. Dr. Staheli's arrangement was moving, powerful, spirit filled, energized, and the perfect way to end a session. It was such a joy to learn and sing these pieces.

As Saturday arrived we headed up to the Conference Center in SLC. We went into the Little Theatre on the north west side of the large edifice and began to rehearse.
This was actually my first time ever going into the Little Theatre. It was lovely. We rehearsed there for a little over an hour. Then The conference center staff surprised us with some Luncheables, carrots, water and some candy.
There was of course a wild frenzy over who could get to the left overs first. As policy dictates, seconds are on a first come first serve basis.

After our rehearsal we lined up in the tunnel and headed up to the choir loft in the main auditorium. As we rounded the corner and headed up the choir loft, looking out was quite the site. This marvelous hall is unlike any other in the world. Seating 21,000, the space was absolutely enormous.
As we sat in our seats and did our quick run through of the music for the technical team, it was hard to not marvel at the space and the experience. This was to be our biggest performance ever. Not only to the full auditorium, but to the millions watching around the globe. The hall quickly filled to capacity.
It was quite the site to behold. We were all so excited to share our musical message to the world that would be listening to us.

This was an intensely spiritual experience for all of us. The session was definitely one of the best I'd ever attended. As we all stood in quite reverence to usher in the Prophet, the spirit rested upon us. We knew he was the Lord's anointed servant. I greatly enjoyed the discourses shared. As we sang The Iron Rod at the end of the meeting, the spirit once again swept over me. What a marvelous opportunity it was.

At the end of the session, we all stood quietly allowing the general authorities time to exit the auditorium. Clay Christianson was on the organ, quietly playing. He had but a hymn book in front of him. This man is absolutely amazing. He played very simply at first. Then he began modulating all over, introducing imitation, pulling more and more stops. What an amazing musician. Few noticed this organist having a bit of fun on his instrument.
Dr. Staheli and I both looked on, enjoying watching this masterful musician show us what that organ could do. His modulations because more complex, the volume increased, the counterpoint more apparenty, the stops kept being pulled out. Until a huge ending rocked the whole building. I could feel the vibrations from the organ as he played that last huge chord taking the pedal down an octave. I was in utter awe.

As things calmed down and we began exiting the auditorium I passed by the huge conductors podium. I had the distinct feeling that some day I would be atop that podium, conducting an ensemble in that building.

This was the completion of a life goal. Now, I just have two more to accomplish: sing in the Tabernacle and direct a choir in the conference center and/or tabernacle.

Here are the videos:


  1. Thanks for sharing this, Lee. I am incredibly jealous but so glad you could have the opportunity. Sometimes I wonder if I left BYU at the wrong time, for occasions such as this. But I know that my talents were needed elsewhere. Good for you for using yours there.

  2. Congratulations Lee! That's really exciting! I'm really jealous. I love singing in the conference center in the audience, but it sounds like it would have been really exciting to be sitting in the stands. And, I bet it was really powerful when the choir and congregation sang together!

  3. Awesome! I looked for you, but alas...