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For years, we had made every attempt to schedule David Archuleta for Christmas. David traditionally tours across the United States during December to sold-out venues. It was simply not practical for him to take a week off of a nationwide tour to rehearse and perform with our student musicians. However, with new challenges come new blessings! As venues across the globe closed due to the pandemic, David’s schedule was suddenly available – now if only we could find a way to perform in a global pandemic! Just finding a way to rehearse was the first obstacle. Rather than rehearsing in music rooms, the choir and orchestra held weekly rehearsals on the basketball courts 6 feet apart and masked. Imagine an orchestra rehearsal where back of the violin section sits on one baseline and the double basses sit on the opposite baseline stretching the full length of the court. Every student had their temperature taken before each rehearsal and needed to be tracked for contact tracing purposes. Dozens of students were restricted from participating in rehearsals whether they were sick or not. Where David Archuleta typically does not perform with an orchestra, more than a dozen new orchestrations were written for the concert. Then there was the problem of how do we present this grand concert without an audience! Who will watch? How will we cover the expenses?

With unprecedented challenges comes unprecedented blessings. Generous families sponsored the concert giving the students a thrill of a lifetime. A television crew from BYU-TV helped bring the event to thousands of homes via relatively new online concert broadcast technology. Rather than reaching a hundreds in American Fork, we were able to reach thousands worldwide. We had families tuning in from three continents.

David Archuleta has since become a friend of the school. He returned to our campus just last October to record with the Lyceum Philharmonic his original song “My Little Prayer.” If you are unfamiliar with this musical prayer, the lyrics include, “I’m learning every day that I won’t always have my way, but I’m beginning to understand that for me You have a plan.”  While the pandemic has given this generation of youth new and difficult challenges, challenges they certainly did not ask for or choose. It has also provided them a once-every-hundred-year opportunity for growth, resilience, and opportunity. They are beginning to understand that for them He has a plan.