BYU Vocal Point
BYU Vocal Point is a nine-member, male, a cappella group at Brigham Young University (BYU). The group was founded in 1991 after two BYU students, Dave Boyce and Bob Ahlander, discovered the sound of contemporary a cappella during a visit to the eastern United States. A cappella music had already gained significant popularity at colleges throughout the East, and the duo decided to take the sound to the west.
They recruited Jill Petersen-Lex as the group’s first Artistic Director. They held auditions in the fall of 1991, and the group became an overnight success on campus, selling out its first concert. The group then made its first recording titled “If Rocks Could Sing” and went on its first tour that same year.
Under the direction and guidance of Ahlander and Boyce who provided the vision, and Lex who provided the much-needed musical direction, the group garnered much success during their first three years. They toured several times and released their first full-length CD titled “Instruments Not Included.” Because of their immense popularity, they gained the favor of the Director of the School of Music who decided to make the group an official part of the University. In the fall of 1994, the group was adopted by the School of Music with Jim Anglesey as the Faculty Advisor. This proved to be an important move for the group as it not only ensured longevity, but also allowed for a full-time director, access to the University’s performing venues, and assistance from the staff of the School of Music and Performing Arts Management.
The Performing Arts and Management website proclaim, “BYU Vocal Point was founded in the tradition of college glee clubs, but the group propels a cappella music far beyond its traditional bounds. Chosen through an extensive audition process, the nine members of Vocal Point combine rich vocal talent with clever arrangements and staging in an electrifying concert program.” Ben Folds, a Judge on NBC’s The Sing-Off has commented, “They’re so pro. They’re so entertaining. They have so much personality. But there is this intangible thing—where the singer is completely being himself and is translating something that you can’t even put your finger on, but you know it’s big.”
During Anglesey’s seven-year tenure as the group’s director, Vocal Point released two albums – “Fatter Than Ever” (1996) and “Mouthing Off” (1999). The group also had several key performances during this time, including a series of successful concerts in the de Jong Concert Hall on BYU campus, and their first New Year’s Eve performance at the Tabernacle on Temple Square.
In 2001, Bob Ahlander returned and took the reins as director of Vocal Point. He began his tenure by hosting the celebration of the group’s first decade which included an alumni reunion concert. Shortly after that, their fourth CD, “Grand Slam,” was released marking the final years of the Anglesey-directed group.
With Ahlander as the Director, Vocal Point reached new heights. They won the regional semi-finals for the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) twice but refused to participate in the international finals in New York City because the event was held on a Sunday. The group also performed the National Anthem at numerous Utah Jazz games and other venues. During Ahlander’s final weeks as director, Vocal Point spent three weeks in Nauvoo, Illinois, opening the new summer performing arts series there, and performing for thousands of visitors over a three-week run. At the final performance of the tour, the group sang to a standing room only audience which gave them the idea for the title of their next album, “Standing Room Only,” which was released in the Fall of 2004. The CD was a tribute to Ahlander’s three years as director.
James Stevens, a BYU grad and studio engineer who had performed with Vocal Point for two years under the direction of Bob Ahlander, was the next director of Vocal Point. Under his leadership, the group witnessed sell-out concert performances at the de Jong Concert Hall. At the conclusion of that year, the group took home three Pearl Awards from the Faith Centered Music Association for “Sacred Recorded Song of the Year,” “Group Recording Artist of the Year,” and “Performing Artist of the Year.”
The success continued in 2005-2006 as the group appeared at BYU’s popular Homecoming Spectacular, and also at its first BYU devotional. They also hosted Vocal Point’s 15th Anniversary celebration, and again won the regional semi-finals in the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella, but were able to attend the finals this time as the event was held on a Saturday. They took their first tour of New York City and competed with some of the best collegiates a cappella groups in the Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, taking first place and being crowned International Champions for 2006.
Vocal Point has had numerous successes over the years including winning fifth place and critical acclaim for their outstanding performances on NBC’s third season of The Sing-Off. McKay Crockett is the current director of the group since 2012. The group’s YouTube channel currently has over 124,000 subscribers. The most popular video, “Nearer My God to Thee”, has over 5 million views. In 2012, they released their first-ever All-Hymns Album “Lead Thou Me On.” In 2014, they released “Spectrum,” and in 2015, they released their first Christmas album “He is Born.” Their plans include touring internationally.
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