Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Auditions and Israel videos

It's that time again: time to brush up your vocal skills and audition to become a member of the University of Utah Singers!

Auditions for the choir will be held on August 19, 20, and 23, with callback auditions on August 24. Call or visit the School of Music office (801-581-6762) to schedule an audition appointment.

You will need to come prepared with a vocal solo and ready to sightread and complete some vocal exercises. This year you will also need to come prepared to sing your voice part on two different choral pieces: the Argentine folk song "Arroz con Leche" and Morten Lauridsen's "Soneto de la Noche."

Detailed information is posted on our website. You can also download copies of the two required choral pieces there.

While you wait for the new year to begin, why not hop on over to our YouTube channel? We have begun posting videos from last year's Israel tour, with more on the way! And don't forget to join us on Facebook for all the latest news, as well as pictures and video!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Tour: Back to Jerusalem and home!

As I write this, we are sitting/sleeping/eating/emailing in the Philadelphia airport, having finished the first leg of our trip home and awaiting the second. The last couple of days of our tour were a nice relaxing ending to a wonderful trip.

On Friday morning, we left Jericho, where we had spent the night, and headed back to Jerusalem. We spent some time at the Garden Tomb:

And at Gethsemane, where we sang together for the last time as the 2009-2010 University of Utah Singers.

I think I can safely speak for everyone in the choir when I say that we could not have possibly asked for a better ending.

After that, we went to Hezekiah's Tunnel. The tunnel was created long, long ago, around 700 BC, as a way to divert water to Jerusalem during a siege. Two teams of diggers started at opposite ends to make the tunnel, and met in the middle, which is quite a feat! Today, you can take a tour of the tunnel. You wade through cold, fresh water that, depending on your height, can rise to your mid-thigh, and walk through narrow tunnels with low ceilings, that, also depending on your height, can sometimes cause you to have to stoop quite low. It's pitch black, so you need some kind of light (our group used a variety of lighting instruments, including iphone apps, cameras, head lamps, and actual flashlights), and if you are claustrophobic at all, it is certainly not for you.

We loved it!

On Saturday, we had a free day (I know many people went back to the Old City of Jerusalem) until our final choir dinner, and then we headed to Ben Gurion airport for our 11:55 PM flight.

It was the trip of a lifetime and one I'm sure none of us will ever forget! Thanks again to everyone who made it possible or had a hand in it in any way. We are very much indebted to you! Thank you!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Tour: Ancient places and Ein Gedi

Yesterday was quite a full, hot, hot, hot day. We started off fairly early on a bus ride to the West Bank, where we drove through the Judean wilderness (and it is quite a wilderness) and stopped in Jericho. Here, we found the Spring of Elisha.

After drinking upstream of some goats and some native children playing in the water, we hopped back on the bus and made our way to Qumran.

This is where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. I can't imagine finding them after wandering through a desert like that one. It's ridiculously hot. Here is a photo illustration of what I mean:

Next up, we traveled to Masada, where around 950 Jewish zealots were besieged by Romans for three years. The Romans wanted to take the Jewish people as slaves, but the Jewish people would have none of it. In a tragic turn of events, as the Romans breached their fortress, all of the residents of Masada killed themselves rather than become slaves.

When we finished at Masada, we headed to the Dead Sea. Many choir members had a great time being unable to sink!

Finally, we arrived at the Ein Gedi kibbutz, where the wonderful people who live and work there fed us a fantastic meal and showed us to the concert hall for our sound check.

Our last concert was lighthearted and fun, despite all of us feeling a little sad that the whole thing has come to an end. It's been a fantastic ride!

We'll do a little more touring of the country today and tomorrow, and then we're home on Sunday. The entire choir would like to express are most sincere gratitude to everyone who has helped us and supported us through the trip, including President Young, our families, all of our audiences, and most especially Olivia Dakkak and Maya Shavit. We couldn't have done it without you!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tour: More Jerusalem

Today was wonderful for all of us! We spent about seven hours wandering around the Old City of Jerusalem. The first stop was the Dome of the Rock.

We also saw the Church of the Holy Sepulchre:

The Wailing Wall:

And so many other things! It was very hot and we were very tired, but it was also really great!

Eventually, we ended up at the BYU Jerusalem Center. It is a very beautiful facility and the views of the city are stunning.

The Jerusalem Center was very kind in hosting us. They gave us a tour, let us hear the organ, and fed us. The students there were also nice. (Healing a rivalry one concert at a time!) Our concert in the hall there was completely full and, as we have enjoyed this entire tour, spectacularly well received. All of us had a fantastic time and would like to express our sincere thanks to the people of the BYU Jerusalem Center for their hospitality.

As the tour winds to an end, we'll have our last concert tomorrow in Ein Geddi. If you've missed us so far but you'll be in the area, we hope to see you there!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tour: Bell Caves and Jerusalem

We have had a busy couple of days!

On Monday, we got to visit some of the caves in Israel. There are some areas that are completely dotted with caves that are quite old. People used them as cisterns, marketplaces, raised pigeons for food...they just kept digging and digging into them so they got deeper and deeper. We got to explore one of them.

Afterwards, we had a concert in the Bell Caves (Govrin Caves). These are totally man-made caves that were used as limestone quarries. They are huge and a really, really fun place to sing!

I know I speak for everyone in the choir when I say this was a definite highlight of our tour so far. Simply incredible. Huge thanks to the choir that hosted us and our host families for the night! You are wonderful!

Today, we arrived in Jerusalem. What an amazing city! It is beautiful and the amount of history all around us is amazing us all.

We spent the morning/early afternoon sightseeing: the Church of the Nativity (in Bethlehem), Mount Zion, King David's Tomb. Not even scratching the surface! We also took some time to visit the Israeli museum, where we saw fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Yad Vashem, an incredibly moving holocaust memorial. It was a full day in many ways.

At about 7:30, we went to a theater in Jerusalem where the Israeli music festival was beginning. We sang for the crowd outside and then got to go in and attend a King's Singers concert! What wonderful luck for us! It was an unexpected but very welcome addition to our itinerary.

All in all, a very full, satisfying day. Tomorrow we will see more of Jerusalem, then tour the BYU Jerusalem Center, where we'll give a concert tomorrow night. Should be great! If you're in the area, we hope to see you there!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tour: many, many places!

Sorry there hasn't been an update for a few days! There has been no internet availability. So this will be a good catch up post.

As of our last post, we were in Emek Hefer. After a free day with our host families (many of us visited the beach and/or Cesarea---thank you VERY MUCH to our wonderful and generous hosts!), we had a concert there on Thursday night.

Again, the audience was fantastic and the hall was filled. The women of Singers got to sing a combined piece with the Efroni Choir, which was such a fun experience for us! Come visit us any time, girls! We'd love to sing with you again!

On Friday, we traveled to Kibbutz Bar'am, which is in the north of the country, and we took our time getting there, so we got to sightsee a little bit on our way. We stopped at the Mount of Beatitudes:

The Sea of Galilee:

The Church of the Apostles, which is a Greek Orthodox church, so we sang from the All-Night Vigil while we were there:

And several other places. Eventually, we ended up at Kibbutz Bar'am, where we had a concert.

The Bar'am audience was incredible. Literally filled to bursting! Every seat was filled, and every doorway, and every stairwell...people stood, willingly, for an hour and a half, and probably would have stood for an hour and a half more! I have never seen anything like it! It's incredible, and the entire choir is so thankful for the graciousness we have received as we've been here.

After our concert in Bar'am, we headed to Nazareth for the night, but just to sleep---the next morning, we were up bright and early to head back to Abu Gosh for our third festival performance. This performance was not originally scheduled and was not on the festival program. It was completely on-demand because our concerts had sold out so quickly. This one also sold out! People just can't get enough! I hate to keep using the word amazing, but it really is truly amazing. The Israeli people love music so much! It is such an honor to share it with them. We truly enjoyed our time at the festival! Thank you for inviting us!

When we finished at Abu Gosh and finally said goodbye to all the people asking us to come back next year, we drove back to Nazareth for our second concert of the day. This one was at the El Mutran church, and the acoustic there was divine.

A local church choir sang for us while we were there, which was a really great experience and fun for us to hear! It sure seemed like everyone enjoyed the concert. I know we all really enjoyed singing there!

That brings us to today, Sunday. Dr. Allred gave a workshop at the Buchmann-Mehta School of Music in Tel Aviv for Israeli choral conductors and students, and we were his demonstration choir.

We sang bits of different pieces for them while Dr. Allred demonstrated things like different balances and tone colors. He also answered any questions the attendees had.

Those who attended really enjoyed learning from Dr. Allred, and I know many of the members of Singers who are studying music were excited to be visiting another music school in another part of the world!

After the workshop ended, we had some free time to explore Jaffa.

Tonight, we're taking it easy in our hotel, and tomorrow we head off to the Govrin Caves, also called the Bell Caves for another concert. We're looking forward to it!

A huge thanks to everyone who has helped us so far. We couldn't do it without you!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tour: Abu Gosh (take 2) and Emek Hefer

We had our second performance at the Abu Gosh Vocal Music Festival today, with some different repertoire from yesterday. Again, another standing-room-only house, with very wonderful audience members! I'd post some pictures of the concert if I had them, but since I don't, here's a candid of us before our warm-up today.

After the concert, we again were met with such gracious responses. People told us thank you for doing what we do. It is so wonderful to get that kind of reaction! We've also apparently formed quite a little following here. People are anxious to get our tour programs and find out where our next concerts are, because they want to come! We've had many people say things like, "See you on Saturday!" We have groupies!

After the concert, we said goodbye to this place:

And headed to Emek Hefer where we met up with the Efroni Choir, lead by Maya Shavit. They fed us and we socialized:

And then they sang for us. They were great!

After the meet-and-greet we were divvied out to our different host families throughout the region. Tomorrow we'll all have separate activities depending on what our host families decide they'd like to do, and then we'll meet up again at 6:30 for a concert in Emek-Hefer. Then we're off to Bar'am! See you there!