In School of Music, Tours

The album features impactful pieces from Salonga’s career alongside some of her personal favorites

In 2017, the BYU Chamber Orchestra toured the Philippines, becoming the first campus performing group in 20 years to do so. Their visit culminated in a concert with world-renowned singer and Broadway star Lea Salonga, which was captured and preserved through recordings that will be released on March 22 as part of the album “The Story of My Life: Lea Salonga Live From Manila.”

“The tour was about more than just one moment or one experience,” said BYU Chamber Orchestra tour manager Justin Smith. “It was a compilation of new friends, new experiences and new memories that will stick with us. Performing with Ms. Salonga was one of the highlights of the trip, and what made it more special was the fact that these students already had a friendship that began after they first played for her on the BYU campus in front of their friends and family. Now they were on Lea’s turf, performing for her friends and family.”

The BYU Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Kory Katseanes, accompanied Salonga on some of the most prominent songs in her life and career, including “Reflection” from Mulan and selections from her roles in Les Misérables and Miss Saigon.

“This was a really fun album to put together,” said Ben Fales, album producer and general manager of BYU Records and BYU Music Group. “From Lea and her team to conductor Kory Katseanes and the Chamber Orchestra to recording and mixing engineer Jeff Carter, everybody involved in the album did such an amazing job.”

With the release of the live album on most major digital music platforms, the collaboration will be available to Salonga’s fans throughout the world.

“Although it isn’t quite the same as being there, the wonderful thing about preserving a live concert is that somehow that burst of adrenaline, the coming together of artists and the response of the audience is kept alive,” said Salonga. “There’s spontaneity. To make music with these fantastic musicians was such a delight. I’m so thrilled this particular performance was recorded for release.”

Salonga hopes that listeners will appreciate the depth of talent that the Chamber Orchestra musicians brought to her repertoire.

“For once I’ll ask to put my voice aside for a minute or two and just appreciate the abundance of the musical gifts of this orchestra,” said Salonga. “These are kids! Not seasoned and performance-honed, but college kids! Their enthusiasm was infectious, but their focus and talent was immense.”

The chance to work with Salonga and experience her professionalism and top-tier musicianship firsthand was “an educational opportunity like no other” for students in the School of Music, said Smith.

“This album represents the real friendship that exists between Lea and BYU — our students, our conductor, our university family,” he said. “Each person involved in this project put in hours of practice and hard work, both individually and as a group, and they made beautiful music together. This album, this music — it’s always going to exist. It will always be there; it’s a symbol of what can happen when hard work meets preparation.”  

“As you listen to this concert recording, which features songs handpicked by Lea as well as stories from her life, you will hear an amazing performer and orchestra, but you will also get to know this world-renowned singer and actress in an intimate and personal way,” added Fales. “So sit back and enjoy the concert as if you were there and part of Lea’s hometown crowd in Manila, and see if you don’t find yourself chanting along with the audience — ‘Lea, Lea, Lea’ and ‘BYU, BYU, BYU’ — by the end of the album.”

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