From the hit Broadway musical Hamilton, the BYU Young Ambassadors perform the rousing song “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)” in their new show ‘Welcome Home.’ The new music video was posted on their YouTube channel on 13 April 2017 and has already garnered more than 20,000 views.
With an animated cast of 20 along with the Artistic Director, Randy Boothe, and a band comprised of 10 members conducted by Eric Hansen, the BYU Young Ambassadors command the stage with their extraordinary performance. Their high-energy rendition of the modern Broadway classic leaves the audience awe-struck.
“The World Turned Upside Down” has its origin as an English ballad. It was first published on a broadside in the middle of the 1640s protesting the policies of Parliament relating to the celebration of Christmas. Believing that the Christmas holiday should be a solemn occasion, Parliament outlawed traditional English Christmas celebrations. There are several versions of the lyrics, and it is sung to the tune of another ballad, “When the king enjoys his own again.”
From a historical perspective, On 19 October 1781, General Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington in the Revolutionary War at the battle of Yorktown. The siege lasted from 28 September until 19 October when the peace negotiations were signed. The battle, however, did not signify the ending of the war, but it is considered a significant turning point in history, one that would lead to American victory and ultimately independence.
American legend states that this tune was played by the British army band under the direction of General Cornwallis when they surrendered after the Siege of Yorktown. Although it was customary that an American or French tune be played in tribute to the victors, the legend purports that General George Washington refused them the honors of war and insisted that “a British or German march” be played. The validity of the legend is debatable as the story was added a century after the surrender.
In the musical Hamilton, near the end of the first act, the historic battle is recapped via “Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down).” The key roles are played by performers acting the parts of Alexander Hamilton and the Marquis de Lafayette. In his 2015 blog entry titled “Hamilton Turns the World Upside Down,” Cait Miller commented, “Indeed, the legend of “The World Turned Upside Down” and its symbolism in the surrender at Yorktown perfectly underlies one of the recurring themes in the show; the world will never be the same. And that just makes for some excellent theater.”
The BYU Young Ambassadors are all full-time students at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Now approaching their 48th year (Fall 2017), they have performed extensively both nationally and internationally combining contemporary music and dance for a fast-paced showcase of American musical theater. Through their outstanding performances, they offer a fresh view of America’s culture and ways of life.