The University Singers, comprising approximately 80 BJU freshmen, have a couple of things to sing about: a concert this coming Wednesday at 5 p.m. in Stratton Hall and, following commencement activities May 8, a trip to New York City to perform in several schools and churches and in premier concert venue Carnegie Hall.
Wednesday’s concert will follow the theme “God with Us,” which will be exemplified through pieces like “Ride on, King Jesus,” “He, Watching over Israel” and “Abide with Me,” said Dr. Eliezer Yanson, a faculty member in the Division of Music and director of the University Singers.
The performance will feature pieces by Mozart, Mendelssohn, Dwight Gustafson and others.
Yanson said he is most looking forward to the performance of Mozart’s missa brevis (a short mass), which will feature four graduate students as soloists. “To my knowledge, this 20-minute work has never been performed on campus,” Yanson said.
BJU’s Stratton Hall, which can hold around 300 people, will seem small to the University Singers after they perform in Carnegie Hall, which can hold around 2,000 people.
The opportunity to perform at this renowned concert venue arose several years back when Yanson spotted an ad from the Manhattan Concert Productions (MCP), which was seeking choirs to send in audition tapes for a chance to perform at Carnegie Hall. Yanson sent in tapes featuring each of the four University Singers’ choirs he has directed since 2010.
“I sent out the recordings with a let’s-see-what-happens mindset,” Yanson said.
To his pleasant surprise, the company quickly responded with an invitation to perform at Carnegie Hall in 2015.
The choir will set out on its journey the evening after commencement, when roughly 60 students from University Singers will pile into buses to make the 18-hour journey to New York.
The group will rehearse on Saturday for its performance on Sunday. Lydia Zeller, a freshman biblical counseling major and member of the choir, said the first rehearsal will be when she starts getting nervous. “When I stand on the stage and see a gigantic empty room full of chairs that I know will be full of people, it will make me nervous,” Zeller said.
Brennan Brennecke, a freshman information
technology major and choir member, shared Zeller’s sentiment. “I don’t think I’ll be nervous until I actually get into Carnegie Hall and actually walk into the concert hall,” Brennecke said.
The choir will perform a mixture of pieces from its “God with Us” concert and from its performances last semester.
Brennecke, Zeller and Yanson all acknowledged what a privilege performing in the historic concert hall will be.
“A lot of music majors don’t even get an opportunity like this,” Brennecke said.
“It’s going to be crazy to be able to say ‘I performed in Carnegie Hall,’” Zeller said.
“I guess it’s like playing soccer at Wembley Stadium or playing in the NCAA Fnal Four,” Yanson said.