The Other Side of My Music

“Group singing is cheaper than therapy, healthier than drinking, and certainly more fun than working out. It is the one thing in life where feeling better is pretty much guaranteed. Even if you walked into rehearsal exhausted and depressed, by the end of the night you’ll walk out high as a kite on endorphins and good will.”
– Rosalind Hall

While the majority of the stuff you will see me posting is related to the music that I write, record, produce, and perform, there is another side to my musical life that I find highly fulfilling. It’s been a part of my life for seven years now, and supplies my life with a lot of memory, a lot of meaning, and a lot of emotion. Some of my fondest friendships have been forged in this corner of my life. Some of my greatest songs have been sung here. This part of my life is the rich, deeply rewarding realm of choral singing.

I was originally an instrumental/band kid. My mom, a piano teacher, raised me to be able to read both in treble and in bass clef. She taught me how to sight read, how to read rhythm, how to count, and how to listen. I expanded this knowledge from 5th grade to 8th grade, where I played the trumpet in the jazz band and was first chair in the french horn section. To this day I still feel that the french horn is one of the most beautiful instruments ever crafted by the hand of man. My middle school experience with band is precious to me. My band teacher, Mr. Nelson, taught me discipline. He gave me drive. He gave me the desire to be excellent – to strive, not settle.

But after some persuasion from my friends, my mom, and my older brother, I decided to dash into the wild blue yonder: I made the change from band to choir in the 9th grade. This was odd, because just two years before that I had attempted to sing in front of my middle school at lunch, forgot the words, embarrassed myself in front of the entire student body, and wasn’t reelected to the student body presidency because of it. I look back on that as one of the most excruciatingly painful experiences of my life. I was afraid to open my mouth after that. I didn’t sing in front of people for two years. The memory of it is almost unbearable. I blush every time I think about it. You see that? I’m blushing. Even today, I want to vomit every time I go on to perform solo, without a band onstage with me. It takes a lot of intense emotional preparation before I can go on stage and look composed.

Having had such a terrible experience, I was frightened to audition. Imagine my surprise when, as a freshman, I was invited to be a part of the Heritage High School Chamber and Men’s Ensembles, the two highest groups in the school. Standing at just barely 5 feet tall, I got to sing 2nd tenor in a choir far better than anything I had ever participated in. This fortuitous circumstance changed everything about the trajectory of my life.

It’s amazing to see the progression. We took 2nd and 3rd in state for the Men’s Ensemble and the Chamber Choir respectively my freshman year. From there on out, when I moved to Union High School and got to participate in the building of a program for a brand new school, it was nothing but up for me and those I sang with. Through a lot of sacrifice, a lot of time, a lot of sincerity, and just a hint of skill, we were able to make something beautiful. I found a home away from home. I found friends. I found family. I lost my fear of singing and gained courage, because I wasn’t doing it on my own. I was part of something bigger than myself.

In 3 years, we accumulated 6 gold awards from the Heritage Festivals, 2 second place state trophies, acceptance into the National ACDA convention, and 3 consecutive state championship victories. Here’s some of our state performances:

And one of our quartet at the talent show. Avalon has since left this life. I miss you, buddy.

I currently am a Bass in the BYU Men’s Chorus. I love the brotherhood of this choir. I love our conductor, Rosalind Hall. She is one of the most delightful women I have ever had the pleasure of keeping company with. Her love and her wisdom knows no bounds. She stresses every day the importance of our motto, Esse Quam Videri – Latin for “To be, rather than to seem.” We must be men of honor, men of purity, men of God, for our music to change hearts and lives. Music is pure emotion. When you sing, you show who you are. So whatever you are, you better be a good one. We try to be good.

Yesterday and today I got to sing in 3 sold out performances in the DeJong Concert Hall on campus. We celebrated Christmas with a multitude of beautiful songs. The orchestra was phenomenal. Top notch. I thank God every day for the opportunity to be in the presence of these brilliant, talented musicians. This is a picture of us with Dr. Staheli at the dress rehearsal last Thursday night for our combined finale.

Dress Rehearsal

Anyway, that’s how I spend the majority of my time. I spent over 20 hours this week either practicing or performing with the BYU Men’s Chorus. This is a part of who I am, and unfortunately I don’t feel like I ever talk about it much. But, as Elvis Costello once said, “Talking about music is like dancing about architecture.” So I’ll stop talking now, and let you listen. Here is a free download of one of our albums. It has been downloaded over 210,000 times all over the world. Follow the link below the picture.

SetApart_MenChorus_web

http://setapartalbum.byu.edu/

And here’s one of my favorite Fan Friday videos. We take 5 minutes every Friday to wing a pop song together. =)

And finally, this is who we really are, and what we’re really about.

My name is Zach Collier, and I appreciate Choral Singing.

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