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A behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to put on a production at the BYU-Idaho Center.

December 16, 2016
Writer: Brynn Schippert

The 2016 BYU-Idaho Christmas Concert featured BYU-Idaho choirs, the BYU-Idaho Orchestra, dancers and special guest stars David Archuletta and Nathan Pacheco. They performed on Dec. 3 in front of a sold out crowd of about 15,000 people in the BYU-Idaho Center. It was the first sold-out crowd at the BYU-Idaho Center. The musicians, dancers and crew were prepared for the big production in front of the huge crowd.

"I would definitely say that our main goal on the video team whenever we have a big performances, especially the Christmas performance, is that we are making the performers look their best," said Weston Schindler, the audio/video director of photography for the video team at the BYU-Idaho Center. "Whether we're filming the choirs or we're filming a big star like David Archuletta, we need to make sure that we're not doing things that are going to distract the audience and throw them off. We want them to be there in the moment and be able to see the action and see the instruments that are playing and just get the whole feel and vibe for what is going on in front of them."

While there are weeks or months of preparation for some aspects of the show, Schindler says the camera crew doesn't start practicing until just a couple of days before the performance, "As for the camera operators, the first day of rehearsal can be kind of rough because lighting, audio, as well as the camera crew, we're all figuring things out," he said. "We're all looking at things. Our directors, they definitely put in all the work and energy to planning out what each camera needs to be filming, what the lights need to be doing, what the audio needs to be doing, but then it makes for an awesome performance."

Schindler says the A/V Department works hard to draw the audience into the performance so they can create that intimate feel and make it seem as if they are on stage as well. The crew for this show consisted of 53 employees, "The entire team works really diligently to make sure that the entire performance is spotless and, obviously, we aim for perfection and obviously things will happen, but we're flexible to move on from possible mistakes and to just make sure that we are learning as well as we're working and doing the best that we possibly can," Schindler said.

There were more than 140 choir members and just over 70 orchestra members for the show. Gustavo Iglezia, a student from Brazil, is normally a member of the choir, but was off-track, so couldn't be on-stage. However, he did work behind-the-scenes. He says this concert was special because he has a personal connection to Nathan Pacheco who served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in his home ward in Brazil.

"He had lunch at our house, so we knew him," said Iglezia. I got to talk to him backstage and I asked him, 'Do you still remember Portuguese?' And he said, 'Yeah.' He even answered in Portuguese and then I said, 'Maybe you don't remember me but you served a mission back home, you had lunch at my house,' and then he looked at me better - you know backstage is kind of dark - and then I said my father's name and our family's name and he's like, 'I totally remember you and your family.' So that was really fun and so fun to be with."

Iglezia says the board members who planned the Christmas Concert were truly inspired to be able to put the production together and to bring the Christmas Spirit to so many, "It was so fun," he said. "This show was so magical, so wonderful. They were really touched by some specific part of the show in a way that they would never expect, so I truly believe that this show was a miracle, magic for the 15,000 people."

BYU-Idaho is working to feature this concert next year on Idaho Public Television.