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BYU's Vocal Point to celebrate 20 years

Published: Wednesday, March 2 2011 12:02 p.m. MST

PROVO — BYU’s Vocal Point, an a cappella founded in 1991 by then-students Bob Ahlander and Dave Boyce, will celebrate its 20-year anniversary with three spring concerts and a special reunion concert March 5.

The reunion concert, which will be held at 2 p.m., will feature the original members of the dynamic group along with 70 of their 100 alumni members and some of the children of Vocal Point members.

The spring concerts will be March 3-5 at the Covey Center for the Arts in Provo.

After 20 years, Vocal Point has an impressive history.

The group of nine talented BYU men who sing a cappella twice won the regional semifinals for the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella, but refused to take their seats at the international finals in New York City because the event was held on a Sunday.

They have performed the national anthem at many Utah Jazz games and other venues, and they consistently sell out concerts in the de Jong Concert Hall on the Provo campus.

Vocal Point spent three weeks in Nauvoo, Ill., opening the new summer performing arts series there, and performing for thousands of visitors. At the group's final performance of the tour, it sang to a completely full house, giving group members the idea for the name of the album, "Standing Room Only," released in 2004.

In 2006, under the direction of James Stevens, the group took home three Pearl Awards from the Faith Centered Music Association for "Best Sacred Recorded Song of the Year," "Best Group Recording Artist of the Year" and "Best Performing Artist of the Year."

Vocal Point was named the 2006 champion in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella.

Ahlander and Boyce are pleased and surprised at the group's success.

"We were looking for a singing outlet that was maybe a bit outside the BYU norm,” Ahlander said. “We wanted to do something BYU had never seen before.”

"When we created Vocal Point, we envisioned a group that would become a tradition at BYU," Boyce said. "However, you never know what will happen when you leave your dream in the hands of others. We are so happy and proud of what Vocal Point has become. It has exceeded our expectations. In fact, we often joke that we wouldn't make into the group if we auditioned today."

This will be the first time the original lineup from 1991 has sung together since graduating BYU.

"I told my wife we’re getting the band back together," Ahlander said.

Of course, "the band" means something different to Vocal Point. Vocal Point routinely takes a song, retools it and delivers a new rendition with voices alone but complete with all the complex percussion and instrumentation found in the original.

The group's varied repertoire includes rock, pop, country, jazz, spiritual and R&B music.

Vocal Point was originally intended to be a double-quartet. However, at the conclusion of the first auditions, Ahlander and Boyce found themselves unable to decide between two singers with only one more spot to fill. At that point, Vocal Point’s signature nine-man sound was born.

In 1994, the ensemble was adopted into the School of Music. This was an important move for the group, ensuring its longevity and allowing for a full-time director, access to BYU's performing venues and assistance from the staff of the School of Music and Performing Arts Management.

Today, Ahlander manages Deseret Book’s music and film label. Boyce is the CEO of an online fundraising company in California.

To mark the 20-year anniversary of Vocal Point, BYU’s Tantara Records is releasing Vocal Point’s latest of eight albums, "Back In Blue."

In addition, Tantara is in the process of remastering Vocal Point’s first album, "If Rocks Could Sing," for re-release for the first time on CD.

Vocal Point is currently under the direction of Buck Mangum, the group’s fifth director. It is the most-requested performing group at BYU and regularly performs to sold-out crowds on and off campus, usually selling out shows weeks in advance.

If you go:

What: Vocal Point Concerts

Where: Covey Center for the Arts, 424 W. Center, Provo

When: Spring concerts featuring this year's Vocal Point ensemble, March 3-5 at 7:30 p.m., reunion concert at 2 p.m. on March 5.

Tickets: Available by calling 801-852-7007 or at www.coveycenter.org

Sharon Haddock is a professional freelance writer with 30 years experience, 17 of those at The Deseret News. Reach her at haddoc@desnews.com or see her personal blog at http://sharonhaddock.blogspot.com/

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