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Intellect

BYU voice professor to celebrate Joseph Smith Bicentennial with song cycles

Lawrence Vincent, tenor, will premiere four song cycles in tribute to Joseph Smith, accompanied on the piano by Scott Holden during a pair of Brigham Young University faculty recitals on Friday, Dec. 23, at 1:30 p.m. and Thursday, Jan. 12, at 7:30 p.m. in the Madsen Recital Hall.

Admission is free and the public is welcome.

"This concert is an opportunity for me to perform works that focus on the prophet Joseph Smith and his life experiences on his 200th birthday," Vincent said. "It has been an honor for me to have worked with gifted artists, and I am certain there will be something for every ear and heart to ponder on this Joseph Smith bicentennial.

The song cycle, a set of songs focused on a central theme, is a well-known medium of classical singers, but Vincent's performance will be the first performace of a series of song cycles about Joseph Smith and the Restoration.

The concept for the Joseph Smith song cycles began in 1997, shortly after Vincent's appointment to BYU's School of Music. He first spoke with John Tanner, then chair of the English Department and now BYU Academic Vice President, who wrote a set of poems for text on the First Vision. Vincent then began looking for a composer who would be interested in setting the text to music.

In the spring of 2005, Newell Dayley, former dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communications, combined his compositional talent with John Tanner's verses to conceive the cycle "A Voice of Gladness."

A year earlier, after learning of this project, author Meredith Ryan Taylor presented Vincent with five songs framing the theme of the First Vision titled, "A Light that Shames the Noonday Sun."

Two other composers contributed their works to the project as well. David Sargent received a grant from BYU's Barlow Endowment for Music Composition and, together with Gideon Burton, created the collaborative effort "In Burning Vision: Sonnets of Joseph Smith."

Composer Merrill Jenson's "How Glorious is the Voice of God," focused on the revelations received by Joseph Smith while he and others were imprisoned in Liberty Jail. Jenson composed songs using text directly from the scriptures to show the prophet's growth during his experience in Liberty Jail.

"Musically, I wanted to compose, dramatically, a series of events, each illustrating progression from the Prophet's experience of despair and later comfort in Liberty Jail," Jenson said. "I hoped to have the music lift in spirit at the resolve of overcoming adversity."

Vincent has been the director of opera at BYU's School of Music since joining the faculty in 1997. Before coming to BYU, he enjoyed a successful career in Europe, singing with the Vienna State Opera, the Vienna Volks Opera and the Stadttheater in Trier, Germany.

He has sung such roles as Tamino in "The Magic Flute" and Narraboth in "Salome" and has also played major roles in "The Barber of Seville" and "Don Giovanni." Vincent has performed in concert and as a guest soloist in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and the United States.

Writer: Angela Fischer

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Photo by Mark A. Philbrick/BYU Photo

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