BYU Singers Traveled to Western Europe to Compete Against 10 Other Invited Choirs in an International Competition
The choral group BYU Singers, led by Andrew Crane, set off to Spain to perform in the International Choral Contest of Tolosa near the end of October.
The BYU Singers were one of 11 chamber choirs in the world selected to perform in the invitation-only contest, and received free housing and meals throughout the contest. The group also had access to free transportation and performed their own concerts in neighboring cities.
In the 2022 competition, other participating choirs came from Sweden, Mexico, Ukraine, Poland, Ireland, Latvia, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Estonia and Spain. Jury members for the contest came from South Korea, Italy, Slovenia, Sweden, the United States, Venezuela and Spain.
Crane said the organizers seek out competitors by looking for success in prior choral competitions and evaluating demonstrations of skill through recordings and videos of performances.
“Because of the great financial investment that the competition bears in providing these services to each group, organizers directly seek out the very best amateur choirs from across the world and handpick them to participate,” Crane said. The organizers of the event typically seek out participation from only one choir per invited country.
Crane said choral competitions often require performers to sing the same piece, or a compulsory work, for judges to compare the groups’ skills when tackling the same arrangements.
The competition also featured two competitive programs, with each group singing choral works from their national cultures for the “folk” set and songs more classically arranged for the “polyphony” set. For the folk set, BYU Singers sang arrangements of songs from American musical theater, jazz and African-American spirituals.
“I am extremely proud of how BYU Singers fared at the competition,” Crane said. In the 52 years of the competition, American university choirs have not had as much success as choirs from other countries, with Crane saying, "Only a handful have received any trophies at all.”
BYU Singers earned second place in the folk set, receiving a silver medal trophy and cash prize. The group scored a 90.2 out of 100 possible points for this set. For their polyphony set, BYU Singers scored 89.4 out of 100, earning third place, a bronze medal and another cash prize. Crane noted that it was a close competition, with the second-place group in the polyphony set receiving a 90 out of 100.
“I believe that all of the students would agree that we never performed our repertoire better than we did on the night of the two competitions,” Crane said.
While the group's experience at the competition was not a full tour, Crane said they were able to have several cultural experiences that would accompany a complete tour. BYU Singers performed at a Latter-day Saint church meeting in the city of Donostia-San Sebastian, performed in ancient cathedrals and rehearsed on the beach. Their experiences were chronicled on the group’s blog.
Crane and the group acknowledged the experience was possible thanks to School of Music Director Diane Reich and Dean Ed Adams for their support of the project. Crane also thanked Shane Wright and Karson Denney for their assistance with arranging travel for Artist Manager Stacey Christensen.