Keith Johnson, Deseret News
Kory Katseanes, BYU director of orchestras, says musicians are thrilled to be on tour of eastern U.S.

The Brigham Young University Chamber Orchestra is on a 10-city tour of the eastern United States.

Performing out of state is a major part of what the orchestra does, and the students soon become accustomed to traveling, because the ensemble undertakes an extended tour every other year.

But what makes this tour special is that it culminates in a performance in Carnegie Hall Wednesday. This will be the first time that the chamber orchestra will play in the historical New York City venue, and it's only the second performing group from BYU to appear there (the first was the BYU Singers back in 1999).

Needless to say, the student musicians are ecstatic. "They're thrilled," said BYU director of orchestras Kory Katseanes by phone. "This is a big chance for the kids, and they're all looking forward to it."

The response to the concert has been overwhelming, and the performance has already sold out. "That's exciting. We're overjoyed," Katseanes said. "But we had to turn away a lot of people, and that's discouraging." In fact, some 1,800 people who wanted to attend couldn't be accommodated.

When it looked as if the concert, against expectations, would sell out the 2,800-seat hall, the organizers planned on holding an open rehearsal Wednesday morning. "But that wouldn't work," Katseanes said, "because only a few of the people who couldn't attend the evening concert would be able to come that morning."

One of the orchestra's pieces is K. Newell Dayley's "A Perfect Brightness of Hope," which received its world premiere at BYU in May. Soloists will be soprano Jennifer Welch-Babidge and trumpeter Nathan Botts, who is a former BYU student who now freelances in New York.

Dayley based the text of his work on selections from the Old and New Testament as well as the Book of Mormon. "He wrote the piece with Jenny in mind, and the vocal part is designed to showcase her voice," Katseanes said.

The trumpet part, as well, was written to accommodate Botts' artistry. "It's crafted to his skill. It's a very brilliant part."

While the piece is rhythmically challenging, it's also quite lyrical, Katseanes said. "Newell tries to capture the spirit of the text, and he stays true to his intentions."

While the Carnegie Hall performance is the tour's highlight, Katseanes and the orchestra have had some memorable concerts. When the Deseret News spoke with him, the group had just finished performing at a juvenile detention center in Rochester, N.Y. "It was an interesting venue. It's a state facility for young boys, and they've never had anything like this (a classical concert) before."

The response, Katseanes said, was very positive. "I think it opened their eyes a little, and it gave them a little culture. It was a good experience all around."

During the tour, the orchestra has done a number of outreach events, although in more conventional venues than the juvenile facility. "We don't do outreach concerts in every city, but we've been doing about three to four concerts a week."

Katseanes and the orchestra will return to Utah Thursday, after having been on the road for three weeks. "Concert tours sound like they're so much fun, but it's hard work. We've been working our tails off night after night."

Inevitably, the energy and excitement wanes toward the end of a long tour like this, but not this time, Katseanes said. "(The players) are working hard, they're devoted and they're trying to be better. I think the energy level will stay sky high, because they want to present themselves at their best and show they're worthy of playing in Carnegie Hall."


E-mail: ereichel@desnews.com