Wednesday, April 23, 2014

BYU Women's Chorus

When I was a freshman in college, someone told me I should try out for the BYU Women's Chorus.  The only things I had tried out for that involved singing up to that point were school plays when I was involved in an elementary school chorus, a far cry from an elite university choir.  I had been singing my whole life but I had very little training and I was scared to put my voice on display for a learned professor to critique.

I hemmed and hawed over the decision for a long time.  My roommate Sandee was a good singer as well and said she would try out if I did.  The morning of the try outs arrived and I finally made my decision.  I picked out a song from the hymnbook to sing ("I Believe in Christ") and headed off to class with every intention of biting the bullet and putting my name on the audition list.  I had prayed long and hard that morning that I would have the chance to try out.  But, as it turns out, I had waited far too long to decide.  After my morning classes, I ran over to Sister Applonie's office to sign up.  All of the time slots were full.  I asked her if she could add another time slot but she said she couldn't make any exceptions or she would have to make one for everyone.  Feeling dejected, I walked home to my dorm room at Heritage Halls and tried to focus on doing my homework.

As I sat there trying to convince myself that it just wasn't meant to be, my roommate Sandee ran into our room.  "Celia!  I was sitting out in front of Sister Applonie's office to see if I could try out when a girl walked up and crossed her name off the audition list.  I put your name in her time slot!  You better get over there soon!  Your audition is in 15 minutes!"  Needless to say, there was a fair bit of scrambling and running that took place after that.  Luckily, Heritage Halls is right across the street from the HFAC or I would have been completely out of breath and sweaty for my audition.  I barely had the chance to glance over the words of "I Believe in Christ" before the door opened and I was pulled into Sister Applonie's office.

Sister Applonie is a very small, petite woman but she can be as intimidating as a Grizzly Bear in an audition setting.  She sat down on the piano bench and said, "Because this is a mid-year audition process we only have seven spots open in Women's Chorus.  I just wanted to let you know that the chances of getting in are low...but let's hear what you have to offer!"  She started into warm-ups so she could determine my range.  She then handed me a sheet of paper with several different rhythms listed.  She told me to sight read them and tap out the notes on my leg.  I had participated in school orchestras since middle school so I had done my share of sight reading but this time was definitely the most terrifying.  She asked me if I had a piece prepared to sing for her.  Clearing my throat, I opened my hymnbook and sang "I Believe in Christ."  Without looking up from her notes she said, "You have a good ear."  And that was it.  She hadn't smiled once during the audition except when she had opened the door to welcome me in.  I had gotten my prayed-for chance to audition but I had no idea what the results would be.

I went home for Christmas break and returned to BYU the day before classes started.  No one had called me or emailed me to tell me I had made it in to Women's Chorus so I accepted the apparent fact that I was an okay singer but not good enough for BYU's music program.  I got through my first day of classes and then went grocery shopping at the Creamery that night with my roommates, leaving my cell phone behind.  When we got home from the Creamery, the red light was blinking on my phone indicating that I had a text or a voicemail.  I flipped open the phone and saw that it was a voice message from a number I didn't recognize.  I called my voicemail box kind of offhandedly, thinking that it was probably just someone from the ward trying to get a hold of me.  But then the message started:  "Hi Celia.  This is Cherie, Sister Applonie's assistant.  We wanted to call you and let you know that, congratulations, you got into Women's Chorus.  Rehearsals are everyday at 3:00 PM in the Madsen Recital Hall.  We hope to see you in class tomorrow!"  I ran out of my room and shouted to my roommates, "I got in!"  They shrieked and yelled right along with me.  My roommate's boyfriend made us celebratory smoothies.  I was so excited to be a part of BYU's music program!

I participated in BYU Women's Chorus from January of 2008 to April of 2011.  I was an Alto II for the first three years and I had so much fun hitting the low notes and playing the role of the prince with the other Alto IIs in our Disney-themed concert.  My senior year, Sister Applonie switched me to Alto I (swinger to Soprano II on certain songs) and I became a section leader.  I loved every minute of it!  Sure, it was a lot of work for one credit and concerts always seemed to be scheduled at the most inconvenient times.  But I had the opportunity to sing at General Conference.  We got to sing at BYU devotionals for prophets and church leaders.  I got to sing songs in four different languages (English, Latin, French, and Italian).  Some were lighthearted.  Some were spiritual.  My testimony grew as I sang songs about the Savior with women who believed the same things I did.  I became more confident in my abilities and in myself in general.

It was a literal answer to prayer and I'm grateful to my roommate Sandee who put my name in that time slot when she could have just as easily put in her own.

Me with my sisters and niece at my first Spring Concert - 2008

Our concert at the Provo Tabernacle.  There were four of us from the BYU 43rd ward in the choir that year. - 2010

1 comment:

dspencer said...

I just randomly stumbled upon this. :) I'm in Women's Chorus too and I loved reading about your experience. I thought it was such a sweet tender mercy that there was a spot opened up for your name. Thanks for sharing!