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School of Music

BYU Singers Let Their Love of Music Be Heard in International Choral Competition

As the only choir from the United States competing in this virtual international competition, the BYU Singers are honored to have taken first place

This last year of masking up and social distancing has not been easy on anyone. For BYU Singers, it meant no more live performances, let alone national tours or competitions abroad. But the pandemic hasn’t barred the group from musical performance altogether. This year, BYU Singers were invited to participate in the International Youth Choir Festival “Aegis Carminis” (IYCF “Aegis Carminis”), a choral competition that takes place annually in Koper, Slovenia. Choirs from several countries, including Russia, Bulgaria, Italy, Taiwan, Slovenia and Indonesia, participated. BYU Singers was the only group from the United States participating. “It was an amazing experience to watch the other choirs perform in the competition from all over the world,” said BYU Singers director Andrew Crane. “It was inspiring to see how music brings us all together, regardless of the language we speak or the country we live in.” Due to the pandemic restrictions, the competition was held in a virtual format. Each of the participants submitted a video no more than six minutes long and their performances were broadcast on YouTube as a virtual concert. IYCF “Aegis Carminis” welcomed children’s choirs, youth choirs and older choirs with members up to 27 years old. BYU Singers competed in the last category and took first place with their performance of “Let My Love Be Heard” by composer Jake Runestad. They also won the Grand Prix of the competition, which came with a prize of 700 euros (851 U.S. dollars). The BYU Singers submitted the piece “Let My Love Be Heard,” which came from their one and only live streamed concert this last November. “That particular concert broke a School of Music record at the time for how many people watched over livestream,” said Crane. “It was the first live music making had seen since everything had shut down months earlier . . . even though we couldn’t actually see anyone in the audience, we could still feel the emotion of the moment.” For choir member Hannah Klassen, reliving that performance with the live streamed competition was an emotional experience. “When our video was up, I was driving with the volume as loud as possible, soaking all of the beautiful music in, and I started to tear up so much that I had to pull over,” Klassen said. “I am immensely grateful that I had the chance to be transported back to such an amazing experience.” For fellow member Daniel Garrett, this performance was his last as a BYU Singer. Garrett, a baritone in the group for the last four years, said, “It was truly an unexpected honor to be able to participate in this wonderful festival and for the incredible outcome!” With all of the pandemic restrictions and safety protocols in place from this last year, the IYCF “Aegis Carminis” competition served as a light among the dark uncertainties that still linger from the pandemic. The name “Aegis Carminis” has a special meaning to the choirs: Aegis translates from Greek as a “shield” or “protection” from something, and Carminis translates from Latin as “song.” “So in a sense, we’re talking about how singing protects us,” Crane said. “I think that, for BYU Singers, the past year has clearly demonstrated this concept. For the students, this ability to keep singing helped shield them from the emotional turmoil and anxiety happening around them during the pandemic.“ Garrett agreed with Crane, adding, “While this year has had many challenges, it has also brought with it incredible opportunities to share our love of music and the Lord with others on a global scale. . . music like this helps spark in us hope and a determination tolet our love be heard.” This time next year, BYU Singers hopes to compete in person in a similar choral competition in Lithuania. You can view the BYU Singers’ performance here and the entire IYCF “Aegis Carminis” concert here.