Free Concerts at BYU’s New Music Building Worth Attending

Brigham Young University has a new music building that offers free concerts featuring many talented artists including accomplished singer and cellist Amanda Hofheins. 

I was able to witness Amanda perform a superb composition cello recital on April 19, and if you missed it, you missed one of the sweetest treats promoted in the new music building on campus. 

Amanda, dressed in a sunny layered dress complete with a bright smile, began her program by catching us all off guard with her lovely voice singing a capella the beautiful words, “All Creatures of our God and King, Lift up your Voice and with us Sing.”

Creatively adding the richness of the cello for support, she wove her pure voice into a lovely interpretation of words, melody and inspiration. So connected with her audience, she shared with them what “worshiping God” in an open way can be –  that it can be more than an isolated thing with arms folded and an inward focus. I love how she opened her arms to all of us, including and inviting the audience into her lovely interpretation of Godliness. Her program was centered around the theme of open free worship. Instead of being closed off in our oneness with God, we can more freely and openly share God’s love. 

It was fun to hear how grateful she was for the gift of her first cello at the age of eight, and of her gratitude for her mother’s great teaching. She recalled those first eight years trying to play her mom’s full-size cello as her mom, who is an accomplished cellist, taught and then continued to teach her on her own cello that was her size. 

We loved watching her present a sweet gift to her mom of a lovely painting of the two of them playing cello side by side, and then hearing her humble gratitude for her mom’s love for not only her, but for the songs of the cello. She likewise honored her dad and his be-boppin’ ways of introducing and keeping good songs alive in their home. She shared gratitude for the times he would spend with her, and she gifted him with a fun T-shirt gift.

Her second piece was a lovely arrangement of “In The Bleak Midwinter,” which seemed fitting given the long winter we have experienced this year. Her lovely light resonance of voice truly complimented her emotions as she carried us through with the rich tones of her cello in this piece.

“Come Unto Jesus” began like “All Creatures of Our God and King” as Amanda implemented the element of surprise again by starting the song by singing a capella. This element not only takes you by surprise, but gets your attention, and her words shared the message that God matches our efforts as we take the first steps of faith. Joyfully, the cello joined her faithful voice with its supportive role. We enjoyed the variety and versatility of her voice as well as the arrangement as she took in a great breadth of octaves and played through them, keeping her voice sweet and steady. 

Amanda concluded the program with “Fly Me to the Moon,” and she had the audience engaged with a new take on this piece. From its traditional melody, Amanda added a fun, marked rhythm in the cello while the voice maintained a classical smoothness while varying a bit from the original structure of the song.

She seemed to enjoy herself during her fun, uninhibited vocal scat that duetted a while with the cello’s pizzicato. This noticeable enjoyment in her performance made it all the more enjoyable for the audience. 

This was a great arrangement that created a more classical vocal and cello style of this otherwize jazzy show piece. 

Check out BYU arts for more FREE programs and concerts, and may I suggest the Undergraduate Recital with pianist Rosie White on Thursday, May 18 at 5:30 p.m. in BYU’s New Music Building, Choral Hall room #2231.

Submitted by Louise Huber Payne

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