Sunday, January 31, 2016


The final two days of our Chorale 2016 Winter Tour can be summed up quite concisely! Thursday was for theme-park fun! Many singers chose to spend their day in Disneyworld's Magic Kingdom, though other options included EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, or Hollywood Studios. Others enjoyed Universal Studios, and got the chance to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Per our usual luck, however, it was raining cats and dogs in Orlando, Florida. In addition, some Chorale members (including yours truly) spent the day between coughs and sneezes, thanks to our recently acquired colds.

But despite these frustrations which, given the context of the entire trip, we found to be quite comical, I believe everyone had a wonderful time. I personally appreciated the rare opportunity to spend an entire day devoted to fun with friends in choir that I had grown so much closer to in the past week. We rode ride after ride, ate ice-cream and candy-apples, met Peter Pan and Mary Poppins, watched fireworks, and shared lots and lots of laughs. The rain even turned out to be somewhat of a blessing, as it kept the lines quite short! For most of us, it was a late night with an early wake-up call looming ahead. But we seized the day and made memories to bring back home with us and treasure for a long time.

On Friday morning, we met at 5:45 am to board the "Disney Magical Express" to the Orlando International Airport. I will personally vouch for that bus's Disney magic, as we made it to the airport with no radiator leaks, heater problems, air-conditioning failures, frozen compression lines, or fender-benders. Jiminy Cricket!

I believe I'd lose my credibility as a writer if I were to tell you in detail about our travels from Orlando to Houston to Seattle, for I was either sleeping, or just conscious enough to pull my suitcase and order a bagel from an airport cafe. I can report, however, that we did have one last delay (for old time's sake) when we waited for takeoff in Houston. The delay, I believe, was not unexpected. It wouldn't have felt right without it.

After we landed safely and sleeplessly in Seattle, we collected our luggage, boarded the very last bus of the tour, en route to Pacific Lutheran University. Also known as, home

When we exited the bus, we were certainly grateful to be heading back to our own beds, our own rooms, and perhaps to some solitude, after being around each other essentially 24/7. I believe that there was also a little bit of bittersweetness, though, as there is with the ending of any good journey. Certainly, our tour was not seamless. There were many frustrations and mishaps along the way, though I'm confident nearly all of them will translate into stories we'll enjoy telling and memories we'll keep sharing. And as we learned at the beginning of our travels, music does not have to be perfect to be meaningful, and felt, and valued, and loved. I think the very same truth goes for choir tours.

Wednesday: Roaming in the Rain

Wednesday, January 27th, was our designated "beach day" of the tour, and we were all antsy for it to come! We looked forward to a free morning on the beach, followed by lunch at Naples' Pelican Bay Beach Club, thanks to the generosity of Dr. Galante's parents. To conclude the day we'd travel to our final destination, Orlando, and enjoy a free evening at Disney Springs. Wednesday did come eventually...with dark clouds, rain, and even talk of thunder.  Chorale was a bit disappointed, but then we could almost laugh. The universe did not seem to approve of this tour.

Our morning departure time from La Quinta was delayed (Need I even tell you this?) to 10:30 as we waited to see what the weather would do. There were hardly any complaints, though, as we relished the rare opportunity to stay in PJ's and lounge around in our hotel rooms. 

True to our ever-changing schedule, at 10:30 we congregated back in the bus despite the rain coming down determinedly with no sign of stopping. While we crossed our fingers that the downpour would cease by the time we arrived at the beach, our wishes did not come to fruition. We had about an hour to kill until lunch was served at the country club. Hence, we wound up, yet again, at a shopping mall!

After our hour of dilly-dallying, we made our way to Pelican Bay Beach Club and found it to be clearly grandiose even in the pouring rain. The room in which we ate was very beautiful, with elegant decorations and big windows to survey the (soaking-wet) scenery around us. We were treated to a buffet-style lunch that was absolutely delicious, complete with salads, sandwiches, burgers, wraps, fresh fruit, dessert, and an appropriate beverage of our choosing.

From the beach club it was a short walk down to the ocean, which always has a beauty of its own, regardless of the weather. Some Chorale members who'd brought their swimsuits couldn't resist the the opportunity to be in the ocean, rain or shine. (I suppose they are true Pacific Northwesters!) They bounced and laughed in the waves, clearly exhilarated.

Once we had enjoyed our wonderful lunch, it was time to board the bus for our final journey with Miss Shawn. It would be about 3 1/2 hours of traveling to reach Orlando, where we'd find the Disney Pop Century Resort. The bus erupted into shrieks and cheers when we passed underneath the sign that told us we were entering Disneyworld, the happiest place on earth.

We could hardly believe it. After a week that began with delayed flights and continued the trend with broken buses and wild weather, we'd arrived safely to our last stop before the trip home, and we had the next day free to enjoy theme parks with friends. No matter the setbacks, we'd made it.

...But don't be too shocked at this success. When a portion of our group took the shuttle between the Pop Century and Disney Springs...their bus broke down. I guess that's just how we roll. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Tuesday Travels

Hello from...home! The Pacific Lutheran University Chorale arrived safely back in Tacoma yesterday afternoon after a long day of traveling...but I haven't gotten to that part yet! As for now, it's time for me to document the remainder of our winter tour travels. (I apologize for the delay! Often faced with lack of access to the laptop, Wifi, or lack of sleep, it was eventually a choice between catching up on the blog, and spending all day in Disneyworld. You can imagine I was drawn to choose the latter.)

You most recently heard about our Monday of manatees and mishaps, including some questionable bus-rides that were truly unforgettable. (Shout-out to Larry.) But Tuesday, believe it or not, was a day when things actually went quite according to schedule! Though we've adapted to spontaneity and the philosophy of "wingin' it," the rare occasion of things going the way we'd expected them to was quite welcome. Tuesday was also a pleasant day, as the weather forecast was promising, and our last concert was that evening in the beautiful city of Naples. Following our last performance? Fun! A brief time of rest after our occasionally-sleepless, sometimes-stressful month of singing. "Work hard, play hard," Dr. Galante grinned.

On Tuesday morning, our home-stay hosts brought us back to St. Paul Lutheran Church to be picked up by the bus for our umpteenth bus-ride and delivered to the University of South Florida in Tampa for a clinic with the highly accomplished Dr. James Bass. I believe all of us were sleep-deprived (and I vaguely remember whining about coffee...) but greatly looking forward to the exciting opportunity to work with Dr. Bass. We certainly had reason to! (We were also thrilled to be back with Miss Shawn, our original bus driver. We'd had enough adventure for a little while.)

Dr. Bass is a singer (a bass, if you can believe it) and conductor, and is the Director of Choral Studies at the University of South Florida. He is also the chorus master for Seraphic Fire, a highly regarded and Grammy-nominated ensemble that performs throughout South Florida, and also tours nationally. Needless to say, we were working with someone who knew his stuff.

While it is unfortunate that Chorale only had an hour to work with Dr. Bass, the short time we had together was productive and meaningful. The warm-up exercises were especially interesting. Our voices were a bit rusty, the consequence of lots of singing and a likely insufficient amount of sleep. However, Dr. Bass seemed primarily intent on "warming up" our minds. He led us in a series of humming exercises that guided us to practice listening-skills and awareness. More than anything, he seemed most interested in our unity as an ensemble. "You're a vocal family, right?" he asked us. "Then sing like one. Don't compete with one another. Just fill up the space around you with a nice, easy hum." It took nearly a minute of humming one tone together until he finally stopped us and told us he had heard it - the choir coming together as one voice.

The remainder of time was spent concentrating on the two Mendelssohn pieces of our set: "Richte mich Gott" and "Mitten wir im Leben sind." Dr. Bass greatly emphasized the importance of pronouncing the German diction in just the right way. This included proper textual emphasis - which meant we had to know what we were saying. And not just know what we were saying, but feel what we were saying.

"If you're in a play," Dr. Bass told us, "and the character you are portraying has to kill someone, that doesn't mean that you believe in murder. You just have to portray someone who does." Dr. Bass reminded us, whether or not we feel that the text we sing is true for us personally, we must always sing as though it is. 

In addition to helping us with the text, Dr. Bass also provided us with some feedback regarding when to use vibrato, and when to sing with a straight tone (no vibrato). There are two things that he said, however, that were not so much instructions for singing as things to ponder, and that I found most memorable.

Firstly, Dr. Bass pointed out the importance of singing, and the special connection between choirs in accomplishing one single goal of making music - even on opposite sides of the country. Such a goal unites us in a unique way. He discussed how, at all places across the world on a Tuesday morning, millions upon millions of people would be doing such regular and mundane things as driving to work or arriving in the office or watching TV - but we were not doing those things. We were singing "Mitten vir im Leben sind." Perhaps at one moment that morning, he suggested to us, we were the only ones in the world doing that very thing. For some reason, I found that extremely meaningful. We were not doing the mundane that morning, I thought to myself. We were singing. Simply because we had chosen to.

The second thing that Dr. Bass said that I found quite significant was his comparison between a choir and a flock of birds. "It's amazing," he said, "when a flock of birds makes a turn - and every single bird in the flock turns its head at the exact same moment." He explained that he felt a similar thing happened when a group of people all sung the same vowel, with perfect balance, at the same time. It was to encourage us to be unified as an ensemble, and move at the same time, in sync with one another during every second throughout a song. The result when that happened, he told us, was incredible.

With that food for thought, Dr. Bass sent us on our way. We hopped back onto the bus, chatting about the clinic and what we'd learned from it. I heard many say that it was the best clinic they had ever had with a director. We were all left wishing for more time to work with the remarkably talented Dr. Bass, but also thankful that we had any time with him at all.

We departed the (huge!) University of South Florida  bound for Naples! It was a gorgeous day, the kind of day we'd daydreamed of when we packed our suitcases with shorts and swimsuits. The sky was blue and the air was warm - that exquisite temperature just between 70 and 80 degrees. Paired with the Florida humidity, though, it felt even warmer. Especially on the bus.

No strangers to bus-problems this week, we were hardly surprised to discover that the bus whose heater hadn't worked a few days ago also had difficulty with air-conditioning. The crowded bus warmed up quickly and got uncomfortably warm with the mid-day Florida sun streaming through our windows. Fortunately, Miss Shawn had somewhat of a solution to offer us to at least better the circumstances - each rooftop emergency exit was cracked open to let air flow into the vehicle as we made our way to the next destination. It made the bus very loud, but for the queasy and lethargic singers like myself, we just closed our eyes and waited for Naples.

The anticipation surely was worth it. Upon arriving in Naples we gazed outside our windows at fancy establishments, stunning homes, and posh restaurants, complemented nicely with palm trees and a blue sky. We had a few hours completely free, to enjoy the local cuisine, sample shops and boutiques, or even visit the beach. The world was our oyster.

After enjoying lunch, many of us did indeed find each other at the ocean's edge, walking along the water and sticking our toes in. A couple of daring girls even ventured into the water! I personally was content burying my feet in the warm sand and admiring the sea, soaking up sun and serenity.

When we got back on the bus shortly before 4:00, we headed to a La Quinta Inn in Naples, where we would quickly change into concert attire, then head to Naples United Church of Christ, the location for our fourth formal concert, and the last performance of the tour. After walking around and getting a little Vitamin D, we were in high spirits and looking forward to the final performance. It had been a good day. Amazingly, our only delay was a short wait for the bus after getting its air-conditioning fixed. (Yay!) We even had time for a rehearsal that evening before the concert. We could hardly believe it. "What do we do with ourselves?" Dr. Galante joked.

The concert that evening drew a nice crowd that included Dr. Galante's parents who reside part-time in Florida. We performed "A Child, My Choice," Dr. Galante's composition, so they could hear it. We sure hope we made them proud!

Our last concert of the tour was followed by lots of laughs and smiles, "good jobs" and high-fives, and even a nice lady who was giving out hugs like Oprah. ("You get a hug, and YOU get a hug! Everybody gets a hug!") And the evening ended on a high note (get it?!) with a group dinner at The Counter in Naples. We feasted on giant delicious burgers (a few choir members ordering a full pound of meat) and had a great time socializing with the people we had grown closer to in the past month. 

We concluded our late night looking forward to sleeping in, and enjoying the Florida sun (knock on wood) the next day at Pelican Bay Beach Club, then departing to our last stop - Orlando, home to Disneyworld and Universal Studios. 

And the next morning I saw a flock of birds flying above me, and they all turned their heads at the exact same time. I couldn't help but smile.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Tuesday's Mini Movie

Here is the vlog for Tuesday, January 26th, made by the ever-talented Allie. We had a great clinic at the University of South Florida, an evening concert in Naples, and some beach time in between!

Monday Mishaps: Oh, the Hu-manatee!

(Credit to Dr. Zach Lyman for the creative title)

Today the University Chorale finds itself in the Sunshine State of Florida. However, today its nickname is a little bit of a misnomer. We Northwesters have brought the gloomy weather with us to Naples! The weather forecast threatens rain and even thunderstorms for a cloudy Wednesday – our beach day! But I believe Chorale has gained a bit of resilience this week. Hiccup after hiccup, we’ve still greatly enjoyed ourselves, performed well, and had fun. If everything went according to schedule, we’ve mused, what a boring trip that would be! (Okay, so perhaps it would actually be quite pleasant if everything had gone according to schedule. But I guarantee that this way we’ll come back with a lot more stories and a lot more laughs. Curious? See below.)

The agenda for Monday was originally: an 8am departure from the Crawfordville hotel to Manatee Springs State Park, about two hours away. We would have a few hours to ride in canoes or pontoons and walk the trails in hopes of discovering our big aquatic friends. At about 1:30 we were scheduled to leave the park and travel to Tampa, where we would sing at St. Paul Lutheran Church. Upon arrival at the church, we’d have several hours available for rehearsal and dinner, then perform a 7:30 program. Well. That was the idea, anyway.

Our call-time on Monday was moved to 9 – we arrived at the hotel very late on Sunday night, so Dr. Galante allowed us one more hour of rest. Whether or not we were really ready at 9, however, the bus was not ready for us. Our wonderful bus driver, Miss Shawn, discovered that Bus Two had a radiator leak. Yet again, our perfect-scenario-idealistic schedule was basically tossed out the window and replaced with go-with-the-flow spontaneity. A new bus (Bus Number Three!) would need to be called in. The new departure time was set at 10am.

Although we were not in as happening of a place as downtown Atlanta, the ever-resourceful University Chorale found ways to stay entertained. (The weather, after all, was quite lovely on Monday!) A few singers caught some z’s, read a book, or tossed a ball around. Less conventional activities included yoga on the dead grass in front of the hotel, tree-climbing, and spastically running around the parking lot and doing cartwheels (That would be Yours Truly).

10:00 came and went. We were given a new call time. The bus was expected at about 10:35. A few of us created some riveting outdoor games given our limited resources. Favorites included “Kick-the-peanut-M&M-around-the-parking-lot” and “Pass the dewdrop.” They were about as fun as they sound. Our imaginations seemed to have dwindled in capability since the early days of our youth.

At about 11:00, three hours past our original original departure time, Bus Number Three pulled into the parking lot. We had a new driver, a friendly guy named Larry, who had come in on his day off to rescue us! Grateful and excited to be going somewhere, we piled into the new bus and set off for the state park. Manatees or bust!

Unbeknownst to us at the time, such a phrase would characterize Monday’s bus trip all too well. The trip was a little turbulent, to put it lightly. And little did we know, there would in fact, be one more delay before Manatee Springs. At about 12:00, we got into a little fender-bender.

As frustrating and unnerving as it was that we rear-ended an SUV (we being a giant tour bus), we were thankful the accident was nothing very dramatic, resulting in a dent at most. Though it was disappointing that yet another obstacle had been introduced between us and the manatees, we couldn’t help but find some humor in the situation. Of course, we mused. Of course, we hit a car. Chorale Tour 2016! Woo-hoo!

We pulled off the side of the road to the nearest available area – which just so happened to be a quaint little abandoned shack labeled “Daddy’s Place.” While information was exchanged between drivers, we waited in the bus and admired the myriad murals on the building’s walls. Phrases such as “Justice, or else” and “By any means necessary” graced its outside architecture. Upon further investigation, Dr. Lyman reported that the shack, likely an old meeting-place, was adorned with several outdated wanted-for-murder posters. We considered it an educational study-away opportunity.

Not long after we pulled to the side of the road, two police cars, manned by officers wearing bullet-proof vests, arrived at the scene. While we had not yet caught sight of any manatees, we certainly got to witness a lot more than we’d expected!

“Oh, the hu-manatee!” Dr. Lyman groaned. “Zip-a-dee-doo-dah,” Dr. Galante dryly chimed in.

At about 12:35, we waved goodbye to Daddy’s Place, and returned to the road. We were about four hours behind schedule…But we were going to see some manatees, doggonit.

At 2:15 we arrived at Manatee Springs. We were very grateful that we still made the stop even though, according the original schedule, we would’ve left the park by now. There was one hour (much of it spent in line) to eat a barbecue lunch of beans, coleslaw, and pork sandwiches or a giant hunk of chicken, and to walk the park and enjoy the wildlife. While the initial plans to canoe with the manatees were no more, we seized the experience before us, and reveled in the chance to stretch our legs and get some fresh air! (Indeed, I suspect we were all quite happy to be off the bus for a bit. I think our driver was set on preparing us for the rides at Disneyland. I appreciate his thoughtfulness but, overcome with nausea and gripping the armrests with white knuckles, I figured I could wait until Orlando for my adrenaline rush. Space Mountain had nothing on Larry.)

We said goodbye to the manatees and their home, a beautiful state park, and got back on the bus-turned-amusement-park-ride. Our next stop was St. Paul Lutheran Church in Tampa, for our third tour concert!

We arrived in Tampa perhaps a bit hesitant about our impending 7:30 performance; it was, after all, just over an hour away. We scarfed down dinner, which the church graciously provided for us, then made our way to the sanctuary, clueless concerning what to expect.

The sanctuary had a very traditional layout. It was a long rectangular room with wooden pews that faced the cross. Immediately into warm-ups we discovered that it was also a very live space to sing in. Dr. Galante quickly arranged us into a horseshoe formation so we could fit comfortably on the stage and better hear each other. Our favorite part of the formation, though, was the ease it provided for us to make eye-contact with one another and interact as a choir. It would prove to affect our performance greatly.

After another lightning-speed “rehearsal” that was really nothing more than a sound-check, we embraced a “just do it!” mentality as we hurriedly dressed for the concert. “New motto,” we joked. “Rehearsal? Who needs it?!

And while I will heartily agree that such a philosophy should not define a choir, that night we had a beautiful concert. Monday was a day of mishaps and frustrations, of surprises and delays, of stress and spontaneity – but then, it was a day that ended with remarkable beauty and a healthy dose of happiness.

When you’ve had a good concert, it’s followed by a sort of “performer’s high.” Immediately after exiting the sanctuary of St. Paul Lutheran Church, the whole choir erupted in a giddy chatter. We laughed, high-fived, and congratulated each other for a show that we didn’t just sing, but that we felt.

The horseshoe formation had allowed us to constantly make connections with one another, and the acoustics of the room let us hear voices and harmonies we had never heard before. Consistently one of our hardest songs to sing, “When All Is Done” came to life in that room.

I recognize the song’s beauty and depth, but as it’s about ten minutes long, I admit that I’m a bit grateful at its conclusion. Yet Monday evening, I did my best to simply listen to the music we were making as we made it. I heard the trumpet interact with our voices and thought about how never again would I be in that room, singing that very song, with those very people. And that made something just click. Whenever I remembered that, I got goosebumps.

We gathered our luggage, smiling to our ears, and said goodbye to each other as we embarked on our last homestays of the tour. I can’t, of course, speak for everyone, but I think a lot of us went to bed that night feeling proud. “Let beauty be our memorial,” we’ve prayed again and again, nearly every performance. On Monday night, after a day of misadventure, I think it was.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Lights, Camera, Action!

Catch up on our vlog! Allie's mini movies for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday can be found below. Enjoy!




Monday, January 25, 2016

“Y’all gotta try the grits.”

Come Sunday morning of our University Chorale Winter 2016 Tour, I was feeling quite Southern. Along with three other girls, I had the pleasure of staying with the pastor and his wife in a pleasant suburb of Birmingham. We were blessed to stay in such a beautiful home, decorated brilliantly by our lovely and hospitable host mother, a former interior designer. More enjoyable than the home itself, though, was the warmth of the company that received us. Upon our arrival the evening prior, we were invited to enjoy snacks and conversation in a room with big windows and a view of the trees right outside. There were lots of smiles and laughs shared, especially regarding the first order of business: right after we “had a sit-down” in the comfy armchairs, our host mother began the conversation with, “So. Tell me about the boys.” The pastor and his wife were in familiar territory, having three daughters of their own. “We know all about this life,” they told us with a smile. After learning more about their family, as well as Birmingham, Alabama, we said good night to one another, looking forward to a hearty Southern breakfast at 7:30.

“You have to try grits,” our host parents told us. “You don’t have to eat all of ‘em, you can just take a bit if y’all want, but you have to try grits. You’re in the South.” We could tell we were in the South, alright, by the breakfast in front of us Sunday morning. We were grateful recipients of wonderful cooking and helped ourselves to a cheesy egg and sausage casserole, warm biscuits with jam and butter, and, of course, grits (combined with an abundance of butter, cheese, and salt). I was especially appreciative of the coffee our beautiful hostess offered us, as well. “I don’t even want to think,” she told me, accent and all, “about a day without coffee.”

After finishing our breakfast – and giving our hearty consent of grits, at which point we were declared to have passed the test to be a Southerner – we packed our bags into the car, waved goodbye to the home we had only spent a night in but were nonetheless attached to, and headed to Vestavia Hills Baptist Church. We enjoyed hearing from the pastor’s wife about how many opportunities there were to give in Birmingham, and about all the outreach work the church engages in to better its community. She stressed that the church sought to welcome all, regardless of socioeconomic status or life situation. We certainly felt welcome that Sunday.

Though the service was at 10, University Chorale met in a choir room behind the sanctuary an hour beforehand to rehearse and debrief. (We would sing a few songs during the service.) We discussed what we learned and appreciated during the clinic with Dr. Bara at UGA, and walked through the service lineup with Dr. Terre Johnson, the Director of Music at Vestavia Hills and a good friend of Dr. Galante.

When it was time, we exited the choir room and sat underneath the cross in the choir seats at the front of the sanctuary. The traditional service was very lovely. The sanctuary was a bright and calm place, the room warm with color as the sun shone through stained-glass windows. The service began with one of our Christmas pieces, “There is Faint Music.” Later on, we sang “O Salutaris Hostia,” and closed the service with “I Can Tell the World,” to the delight of the congregation. In between we sang hymns with familiar tunes accompanied by the organ, and we greatly enjoyed the gospel readings, read with strong Southern accents and sincerity. The sermon (given by our host father!) was entitled “Care,” and, regardless of our unique backgrounds, I think its message rang true in all of us.

Following the service, we were heartily thanked, and gave thank-you’s in return to the generous congregation members. We said goodbye to the people who had adopted us for the night, filed back into the bus, and, still in our “Sunday best,” headed to Birmingham’s Galleria Mall.

As we had a few hours before our next gig, Dr’s Ezhokina, Lyman, and Galante had lunch with Dr. Johnson, while Chorale ate and explored in the spacious mall. A great variety of activities took place (Though, what else would you expect, when 42 college students on a big road trip stop at a giant mall?). While some of us engaged in typical activities like gracing the coffee shops and doing a little shopping, others got quite creative.

A few girls tried on princess-esque gowns at a dress shop, several boys made it their goal to set foot in every single store (quite a feat!), and the mall’s carousel and escalators offered endless fun and shenanigans. (Being in Sunday heels since 7:30am did not offer endless fun and shenanigans, might I add.)
After a few hours, we met back at the bus to travel to the Cathedral of St. Paul for a performance exchange with two local university choirs: the University of Montevallo, and the University of Alabama-Birmingham. The University Chorale looked less than uniform in our various attire: church clothes with quirky additions such as Vans shoes and jackets for comfort (A look I’d like to call, Sunday Best, with a Twist!). Montevallo and UAB, on the other hand, were in formal concert attire: black tuxes (some even had coattails!) and dresses with pearls. And they certainly matched the grandeur of the breathtaking cathedral. We felt a little underdressed. And a bit confused. Was this an official performance?

“So, is this an exchange or a concert?” I asked Dr. Galante. “Yes!” he replied. Well, that was helpful.

Whatever it was, people slowly starting drifting into the cathedral while each choir briefly rehearsed. After all had a chance to do so, each singer pulled out a copy of Alice Parker’s “Hark, I Hear the Harps Eternal.” Though many had not so much as glanced at the music before, we would run the song a couple of times, and then sing it at the end of the performance-concert-exchange-thingamabob-whatever-it-was.  The objective was not a perfect end result; the objective was the collaboration of three different choirs, most of us strangers to each other, seizing the opportunity of being in the same place at the same time and having the same desire: to have a musical conversation. To be unified, even for just a few minutes, by a common goal: a song.

It was great to have the chance to listen to fellow college choirs, and accomplished ones at that. After enjoying the performances of Montevallo, under the direction of Dr. Melinda Doyle, and UAB, directed by Dr. Brian Kittredge, we made our way to the front of the glorious cathedral. Our set of four songs included “Richte Mich Gott,” “O Salutaris Hostia,” “Let Beauty Be Our Memorial,” and, yet again, “I Can Tell the World.” Our kind audience gave us a hearty applause, especially after “Salutaris” – our soloists had done a fabulous job, and truly sounded like angels in the cathedral.

Indeed, the Cathedral of St. Paul was simply a blast to sing in. When we sang, it felt as though the room came alive, like the walls and ceilings and majestic columns were singing with us. Singing “Hark I Hear” was a special experience, with over 120 voices joining together to produce a warm, gold-colored sound. We sang and the cathedral sang back to us.

After the performance, we said goodbye to our fellow singers, our faces lit up with smiles after having the chance to sing in a place with such great acoustics. Still in our less-than-comfortable Sunday best, we boarded our second home (the bus) and tried to muster some enthusiasm for the four-hour ride ahead. We were bound for Crawfordville, Florida, y’all!

After about an hour of driving we stopped in Montgomery, Alabama to eat a quick dinner. Tired and eager to change into pajamas, we were a bit grumpy about the three hours of driving that remained. But spirits were lifted (at least, mine were!) when we popped Star Wars: Episode VI into the bus DVD player and spent our evening with storm-troopers and ewoks.

Shortly before 1am, we pulled into the Best Western in Crawfordville, a town just outside of Tallahassee, Florida. We had instructions to be ready to go at 9:00, Monday morning, to depart to Manatee Springs State Park in the morning. I don’t know about the others, but as for me, I was eager to crawl into bed. I fell asleep when my head hit the pillow.

More to come about our (exciting? spontaneous? alarming? Just what is the correct word?) Monday adventures tomorrow!

Saturday: Atlanta Adventures, Bus Bummers, and Vestavia Hills

Hello from the other side…of the continental United States! The University Chorale sends you greetings from the Sunshine State! We find ourselves again delayed (I’ll explain later), but nonetheless enjoying the sun outside our windows, and using the time to converse with each other, laugh, be silly, and everything else that you do when traveling with 42 nomadic singers far from their native territory exploring the “whole new world” of the Southern USA…including catching up on the blog! After all, this writer is currently in shorts and a t-shirt, so I’m not going to dare to complain. Here’s our recap:

When you last heard from University Chorale, we were in John’s Creek, Alabama, saying farewell to our first home-stay families of the tour, and looking forward to a fun afternoon in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. Our first stop in the city would be the World of Coca Cola – a very “Georgia” thing to do, as the beverage was invented in Georgia (though this is highly disputed among Cola conspiracy theorists…), and the company’s headquarters is in Atlanta. The inclement weather (i.e. cold) caused the World to open at 11am, later than its usual Saturday hours, though Chorale wasn’t too disappointed by this – we got an extra hour to sleep, to enjoy breakfast, and to socialize with our wonderful host families.

Upon arriving at the World of Coca Cola, we exited the bus to a very brisk and biting air. With a complimentary Coca Cola in our hands, we explored the exciting exhibit, learning lots about the world’s greatest drink (or so we were told) from the Coca Cola enthusiasts and interactive displays. Some highlights included a trip into the top-secret, super-classified, magical vault (We were highly misled; despite many promises, no one got to lay an eye on the classified Coca Cola formula that few have seen - or lived to tell of), and the chance to sample one hundred different flavors of Coca Cola. Admittedly, my favorite pastime was keeping a lookout for the seven-foot tall polar bear mascot roaming around the building, surprising innocent bystanders and coercing them into a photo, sure to reappear in my darkest nightmares. (Shudder.)

We wandered in clusters around the fascinating building and planned our next adventures, as we had until 2:30 to explore this corner of Atlanta. Well, 2:30 was the original plan. A notification from Dr. Galante let us know our fate had changed yet again – the unexpected below 30 weather had caused the compression lines on our beloved bus to freeze. We needed a new bus. At 3:30, Dr. Galante told us, we would all meet back at Bus One, and transfer luggage onto the fully functioning and on-time Bus Two. (That was the idea, at least.)

The hour delay may have spurred a little anxiety regarding the evening’s concert at Vestavia Hills Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama: it was a two and a half hour drive away, and rehearsal was to follow. The later we arrived, the less time we had to rehearse. Fortunately, switching from the Eastern time-zone to the Central time-zone as we traveled from Atlanta to Birmingham would give us an hour back. An hour lost, an hour gained, we figured. It would be alright.

And in the meantime, we found ourselves in a great place to have a few hours to spend! Surrounding the World of Coca Cola is Centennial Olympic Park, the Georgia Aquarium (rumored to be one of the best in the country), the Center for Civil and Human Rights, and the CNN headquarters just a half-mile away. It’s a happening place.

Actually getting to these places proved to be more of an obstacle than expected. Though we merely needed to cross the street or walk a couple blocks at most, the weather had taken a turn for the worse, with gusts of wind so strong it was hard to walk in a straight line.  With our hair whipping around in our faces, ears beet-red, and teeth-chattering, we couldn’t help but laugh at our stark unpreparedness for the day. We’d left the gloves and hats at home; this wasn’t quite the weather we’d expected.

After braving the unwelcoming outdoors, the Chorale found itself exploring and enjoying the surroundings. Many of us got lunch at CNN, which was absolutely packed at the peak lunchtime hour. Some of us sat on the floor with our food, criss-cross-applesauce style in the grand atrium of the impressive building (there were no available tables) and had a sort of indoor picnic. A few of us forked over the cash to tour the Cable News Network headquarters. Others visited sea-lions, otters, dolphins, beluga whales, and penguins at the aquarium, later raving about the cuteness of the animals, the greatness of the building, and the giant food court. A couple social justice enthusiasts even toured the Center for Civil and Human Rights. Faced with another delay, we adopted a “carpe diem” mentality! (Certainly this sounds nobler than the more honest mindset: “Less time to rehearse, more time for penguins. Woot woot!”)

At 3:30 we congregated at dear old Bus One, and awaited the promised Bus Two. 3:30. 3:35. 3:40. A white bus pulled up in front of ours. We exited Bus One and removed our luggage. The white bus was not our bus. We got back on Bus One. The mythical Bus Two was said to be close. We exited again to ensure a quick departure. We huddled and squirmed and jumped up and down in the chilly weather.

Just as our hope began to dwindle, the long-awaited and prophesied Bus Two turned the corner and found us on Baker Street. At 4:10 we left downtown Atlanta. Our rehearsal time had shrunk to a worrisome half-hour time slot. But at least we had Bus Two now. There was nothing wrong with Bus Two.

…Or so we thought. Bus Two, it turns out, was eager to assist us in tossing the original schedule out the window and returning home with stories of spontaneity, close-calls, and winging it. Bus Two was freezing. Shortly after our Atlanta departure, we stopped at a Love’s truck station to fill up on fuel and try to fix the heater. As we pulled to a stop and checked the clock with anxious faces, Dr. Galante faced us from the front of the bus: “Ten minutes,” he said, half-smiling, half-grimacing. “Ten minutes to use the restroom. Ten. Minutes. No later.” He gravely munched on the happy pills that are peanut M&M’s.

Eleven minutes later we left the fuel station, en route to Vestavia Hills – this time for real. Originally expecting a 4:30pm arrival, we arrived in the beautiful community at about 6pm. The church rests upon Shades Mountain and overlooks Birmingham, though all we could see by the time we arrived were the twinkling lights of a busy city.

Vestavia Hills’ congregation members welcomed us with a delicious Greek dinner of pasta, salad, and pita chips, and also provided some snacks and Birmingham-themed goody bags. We hurriedly ate our meal and rushed into the sanctuary for a very condensed “rehearsal.” The lack of thorough preparation had the Chorale a little nervous as we stood in front of a fair-sized audience. But despite our tenuous circumstances, the concert was quite beautiful. Our a cappella song, “Butterfly,” was, I think, particularly special. Dr. Galante will sometimes, without forewarning, walk away and cease to conduct us after he gives us a few downbeats. This was one of those times. At first, we got a little nervous and fell out of tempo for a moment – and then, realizing that the only way we could sing this song well would be if it was sung together, we engaged with each other. We looked each other in the eye, and we found one unifying rhythm. We swayed back and forth and smiled. We had a beautiful musical conversation.

Following “Butterfly” was our spiritual, “I Can Tell the World.” You can imagine it was well received in a Birmingham Baptist church. Simply put, we were grooving.

When the last note was sung, we smiled at our kind audience, every single person on their feet to give us a standing ovation. Though it was a concert not preceded by an organized rehearsal, it was still enjoyed – not only by the audience, but by the singers, too. And I believe there was a collective realization that we were ready for that concert; we had it in us. If we really tried, if we were mindful and musical and focused, if we breathed together and sang together, we could leave behind a memorial of beauty.

Following the concert, we went our separate ways to our homestays with friendly audience members. We looked forward to reuniting in the morning to attend Sunday worship at 10am, excited to see what the next day had in store for us…

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Taking Georgia By Storm, Southern Hospitality, and Snow

Hello from (snowy!) John's Creek, Georgia! Snow?! But aren't we in the South? Only the PLU Chorale would travel across the country to the land of sunshine and blue skies and discover that they actually did not leave winter behind as they supposed.

Yesterday was our first official day of tour - and we're off to a great start! The day started with breakfast at Best Western in Atlanta, followed by a "9:30" departure to the University of Georgia in Athens, about an hour and a half drive away. (Well, it was a 9:30 departure in theory. Some members of the male species in the choir have "a flexible relationship with time," as Dr. Galante has eloquently phrased it. In reality, we left at about 9:50.) We pulled away in the bus to familiar rain that seems keen to follow us Washingtonians everywhere.

It turns out that the state of Georgia, however, is not so familiar with "that wet stuff coming from the sky." Shortly after getting on the road in transit to the University of Georgia's Athens campus, we learned that the university was actually closing at 2:30 due to "inclement weather." We found this somewhat amusing, noting that if the same standards applied to schools in Washington, it'd take roughly twenty years to get a bachelor's degree. Quite fortunately, however, our time at UGA was scheduled to end at about 2:30 anyway. 

At about 11:30, our wonderful bus driver, Shawn (who was so kind as to say a blessing for our travels before our morning departure), pulled us up to the curb of UGA's campus, clearly beautiful even in the rain. The choir had a chance to enjoy a yummy lunch on campus before meeting in the choir room where UGA's impressive Hodgson Singers, directed by "wizard" Dr. Daniel Bara, were rehearsing. (Members of University Chorale that sang in the ensemble last year had the special experience of seeing Lauren Whitham, last year's director while Dr. Galante was on sabbatical. She is currently a doctoral student at the University of Georgia and sings with the Hodgson Singers. What a neat experience it was, to see our previous director being directed, hear her sing in a wonderful ensemble, and then sing for her!)

We observed with great eagerness and enjoyment the Hodgson Singers' rehearsal. Dr. Bara then invited us to perform a song or two for the Singers. We sang our concert opener, "Richte Mich Gott," followed by Dr. Galante's own composition, "A Child My Choice." The welcoming Hodgon Singers were a kind audience, and thanked us for visiting them as they departed. A few, including Ms. Whitham, stayed behind to observe our clinic with Dr. Bara that followed the rehearsal.

It was truly a gift to work with Dr. Bara! His energy and enthusiasm encouraged us all to try embrace our full potential as a choir. After singing the same songs again and again, it can admittedly become easy to lose focus and go on auto-pilot as a performer. (This may also be a consequence of getting three to four hours of sleep the night prior.) Clinics such as ours with Dr. Bara yesterday, however, remind us of the beauty we can accomplish as an ensemble, refresh us, and offer a new perspective. 

...That being said, we were all sheepish smiles as we listened to Dr. Bara's input and advice when rehearsing with us, finding that it sounded all too familiar...Some of Dr. Bara's instructions were the very same words we'd heard from Dr. Galante, almost verbatim! As he smugly smiled in the corner, surely basking in the pride that always comes with the ability to say, "I told you so," we were all reminded of the mindfulness and mental attention that singing takes. More than anything, however, we've realized again and again, through Dr. Galante's instructions, Dr. Bara's suggestions, as well as our own experiences, that singing with a group is to be a "musical conversation." This means engaging, and engaging fully and courageously, with the people you are singing with. Indeed, one of Dr. Bara's most memorable pieces of advice was to embrace true eye-contact with fellow choir members while singing. It makes one vulnerable, Dr. Bara acknowledged, but it makes a difference. With this in mind, we rehearsed our J.A.C. Redford piece, "Let Beauty Be Our Memorial," which is usually performed without the direction of Dr. Galante. The result was beautiful. All in all, Dr. Bara was a delight to work with - and it was humbling that the feeling seemed mutual. "You guys are a hell of choir," were the words Dr. Bara left us with. "I'd love to keep conducting you for a long time."

All smiles, we said goodbye to Dr. Bara, to Ms. Whitham, and to the University of Georgia, as we got back on the bus bound for John's Creek United Methodist Church, near Duluth, where we'd be performing a 7:30pm concert. It wasn't a quick exit, however - You'll find that when a university campus closes in the middle of the afternoon for inclement weather, everyone leaves at the exact same time. But this wasn't a major frustration, as our time on the bus is spent by conversing with our fellow choir members, listening to music, reading, or (as was the case for this writer) attempting to catch up on some sleep. (The consequence of sleeping on your backpack, I've learned, is a series of interesting dents on your face when you wake up.)

Upon arrival at John's Creek UMC, we discovered that the evening's venue would be quite a treat to sing in. The church is grand, both by virtue of its size and design. An additional plus of this venue was that it offered another reunion - its Director of Music, Dr. Nathan Frank, directed Chorale two years ago, when Dr. Nance was on sabbatical and Dr. Galante took over Choir of the West in his absence. A few veteran members of Chorale enjoyed the chance to see both their first and second directors of the ensemble in a single day! 

Inside John's Creek UMC, we admired the large sanctuary, its beautiful wooden pews, huge windows, and the stained glass gracing the walls. In such a big sanctuary, however (It is capable of seating 1700), an audience can easily appear to shrink in number. Add to the fact that the unusual Georgia weather - windy, rainy, and daring to snow - had shops and schools closing, Chorale had a feeling that this wouldn't be our biggest audience.

Dr. Galante brought this to our attention, but stressed the importance of not getting discouraged by the size of an audience - that we would sing for whoever came, and if no one came, still we would sing. It didn't matter if there were four people, or four hundred, or four thousand. "Don't think about who or how many people you're performing for," Dr. Galante advised us. "Just go up there, and have a musical conversation." 

After a brief rehearsal in the sanctuary to get the feel of singing in the space, we were treated to  dinner held in a nice fellowship room, and then proceeded to prepare, both physically and mentally, for our first performance of the tour. We donned our fancy black dresses and spiffy tuxedos and, come 7:30, entered the sanctuary.

Outside the window, rain fell, gusts of winds blew, and snow made an occasional appearance. The size of our crowd reflected hesitations about the uncertain and unusual weather. However, while I comment on the size of the audience, I want to make it clear that the size really wasn't that important. Those who were there were happy to be there, listening carefully, clapping heartily, and warmly encouraging the  University Chorale from a school most had never heard of, in a city few knew the name of. After the concert, we were welcomed, thanked, and complimented as though we were their own. And while many of us walked off the stage initially feeling a little discouraged (May I advise one to try to get more than three or four hours of sleep before performing an evening concert in a different time-zone?), we came to realize that our audience, though small, had truly loved it. 

It made me realize that while we seek to perform to our best ability, achieve the perfect performance, and present the best possible concert we can, music does not have to be perfect to be meaningful, and felt, and valued, and loved. Certainly, I'm not encouraging us to be lazy singers and make mistakes. I just invite us to acknowledge - while we will strive to make each concert our new best, and ought to do so, it's not about us, after all. It's about the people sitting in front of us, no matter who they are or how many there are. At the conclusion of yesterday evening's concert, those people  stood up and heartily gave us a standing ovation. I think that's something we can be proud to sign our names to.

Following the concert came my favorite part of choir tours - the home-stays! Many kind and generous congregation members, surely acting in the spirit of that good old Southern hospitality, took groups of us into their homes for the night and provided for us all the kindness and courtesies they would offer their best guest, while simultaneously welcoming us as warmly and comfortably as they would their own family. Members of Chorale went their separate ways as they found the eager and smiling people holding up pieces of paper stating the names of the students that they'd be "adopting" for the night.

The next morning we met back at the church (our home-stay parents provided the transportation), beaming and laughing at the unexpected snow that was falling, making teeny tiny snowmen in the parking lot, and sharing our home-stay stories. Each was convinced that his or her home-stay was the best.

But, really, mine was the best. Allow me to brag: My home-stay, shared with three other wonderful ladies in Chorale, brought me two of the kindest, most hospitable people I've ever met, a five-month old puppy named Bear, a home that was taken straight out of a Pottery Barn magazine, 10pm cheeseburgers, fries, and brownies (What can you expect? We're college students.), story-sharing, and laughter. Upon going upstairs to our rooms to get ready for bed, the girls and I found chocolates placed on our pillows. I personally slept so well that I really don't believe I moved. We woke to a breakfast of home-made cinnamon rolls, bacon, fruit, coffee, hot chocolate, tea, juice, and were offered everything else in between. After breakfast, I took a few moments to simply sit in a cushy armchair by the fireplace with a puppy at my feet. Such a hard life. 

While ever grateful (and boastful) for my home-stay, according to what I've heard from fellow choir members, it seems that everyone had just as pleasant of a time in John's Creek, Georgia. We were so thankful for the kind reception, and left the city with a great opinion of it, and a great appreciation for all the people we had the pleasure of meeting. 

Though I admittedly started this particular post this morning in John's Creek, the University Chorale is now in transit (late) to Vestavia Hills Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama! This day has already had its fair share of the excitement of sight-seeing, and the hiccups of delays (I'm proposing a new tour theme!), all of which I can't wait to tell you about tomorrow. As for now, wish us luck as we attempt to arrive "on time" (a relative phrase today) in Birmingham, and continue to "tell the world" - we're not always on schedule, we may have to switch buses because the original's compression lines may have frozen, and the bus's heat may not be working, and our time for rehearsal for tonight's concert may have all but disappeared...but nonetheless, we're blessed.

Check out Allie's video of Friday's fun below! Thanks for stopping by, and we'll talk to you later ;)

Friday, January 22, 2016

And the Word of the Day is "Delay..."

Hello from Georgia, everyone!

Chorale is safe and sound in the new world of Atlanta, Georgia. However, the current weather - cloudy and rainy, with a chance of snow later today - is making us feel right at home.

Yesterday was our travel day - a full travel day. We left PLU at 9am on a bus to SeaTac for a Houston flight scheduled to depart just after 12. The flight was delayed just twenty minutes, though once on the plane it was another forty minutes of sitting still before the pilot arrived. Unfortunately, the original pilot had gotten sick, so an alternate was flown in to cover. He didn't exactly sound thrilled. Once on the plane, he welcomed us with a brief greeting, the gist of which was, "Hi, this wasn't my fault." A fairly turbulent four-hour ride with a bit of a bumpy landing followed, but Chorale was just happy to have arrived in Texas in one piece! We were a bit of a sight, entering and exiting the aircraft as a large conglomeration of college students. Many were curious about who we were and where we were going.

And as it turns out, there was plenty of time for conversation! Upon landing at the Houston-George Bush Intercontinental Airport, our pilot was simply ecstatic to discover that another aircraft was in the way, preventing us from exiting the plane and heading to our next flight. We watched the clocks anxiously as our one-hour layover with the possibility of grabbing a bite to eat before our final flight to Atlanta began shrinking in size, until we began to worry we'd miss our connecting flight completely.

By the time we were free to leave the plane, it was just after 7:30pm local time, which meant that our connecting flight was already scheduled to board. We power-walked through the airport (thankfully it wasn't a terribly long walk to our next gate) and past the tempting restaurants and eateries we spotted on the way. Our mission was to get on our next flight; dinner could be a hearty selection of gummy bears and fruit leather tonight.

After rushing to the flight to Atlanta, however, we were met with another delay - there was some paperwork concerning the baggage on board that needed to be completed before takeoff. After about an hour of waiting in the aircraft, we were ready for takeoff! Just a one-and-a-half hour flight and University Chorale would be in Atlanta, Georgia! It was a bit of an exciting trip, as several Chorale members stayed entertained by watching the lightning storm that was taking place outside our tiny windows.

Thankful to be safe and sound and done with flying for the day, a hungry and time-disoriented Chorale collected their baggage - but, true to the day's theme, not before a delay! - and boarded a bus to the Best Western that would be our home for the night. Though only 10:30pm Washington-time, the local pizza places that some choir-members seeked delivery from were keen to operate (and close) according to the Eastern time-zone schedule. (Apparently some determined boys found a place that was still delivering pizza. The rest of us stuck with our granola bars and waited eagerly for the complimentary breakfast.)

After a refreshing four hours of sleep (You may determine if I am employing sarcasm or sincerity here) and tummies full of breakfast, we are ready to begin our first official day of tour! Today's schedule brings us a visit to the University of Georgia and an evening concert in John's Creek! As for now, it's time to board the bus and head to our next destination. More to come later!

P.S. Check out the latest video, created by the fabulous Alicia Hoag, below!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

We Have a Video Blog! Yeah!

Hello, fans, friends, and family! Along with this written blog, a fellow member of University Chorale has also created a Youtube channel (University Chorale Tour 2016) to document this exciting journey via video! Visit the channel by following this link to see what we're up to, or just stop by this blog, where I'll post the videos. See the first video blog below!

Gearing Up to Tell the World: Reflections on the intense rehearsal process

On Monday, January 4th, members of Pacific Lutheran University’s “University Chorale” were called to awaken from their Christmas-Break-induced comas and gather in Room 306 of the Mary Baker Russell building. After two weeks of holiday celebrations – imbibing copious amounts of eggnog, munching on cookies and Christmas ham, watching Elf and It’s A Wonderful Life, simply taking a moment to breathe after a crazy December – it was time. The singers were reunited once again by no small task: in just eight (long) days of rehearsal, they were to learn the concert they would take to the Southeast on a week-long tour to represent PLU through positivity, heart, and song. “What’s your J-Term class?” fellow students asked us. “Choir,” we replied. “Easy!” the envious student would say. Oh, ye of little knowledge, we’d think to ourselves. You have no idea.
            Indeed, learning (and re-learning), in just two weeks, the sixty minutes of music we’re to take with us to Georgia, Alabama, and Florida for our J-Term tour is no small feat. I think all choir-members could agree that constant practice is more physically, vocally and mentally tiring than one would think. Day One had me personally thinking, We’re doomed. Galante is crazy. This just isn’t going to work. Because the truth is, this isn’t an easy repertoire of music. Dr. Galante did not select “Amazing Grace” and “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” In other words, he didn’t sacrifice quality or complexity of music for convenience and ease. And I’ll be the first to admit: initially, I wished he had. Some of the music was daunting at first sight – and a glance at the calendar inspired sheer terror.
            But you’ll find that when a group of motivated individuals comes together over a common goal, much more can be accomplished than one could initially expect. This J-Term has been no exception. The amount and complexity of the music we had to learn meant work. But it also meant a lot of other things – like a beautiful end-goal that we could be proud to sign our names to, as well as marked growth as a choir. And as it turns out, when a group of motivated individuals comes together over a common goal…it’s also a lot of fun.
            Already, I feel we’ve become closer as a choir – and how could we not? We spend up to six hours in the same room sharing frustrations and laughter, making mistakes and making music. And then we all run into each other at breakfast, and lunch, and dinner, and at the gym, and on our midnight-snack runs, harmoniously synchronized in our choir-kid schedule. Our bonds can no doubt only grow stronger as we travel to the South (and spend about one bajillion hours in the close quarters of an airplane in the process) and make great memories – singing in concerts, looking at manatees, and visiting good ol’ Disneyworld, to name a few. (If any PLU faculty are reading this, let me make it clear that this trip is purely an educational, intensely studious experience. We are not having any fun.)
Okay, so we’re going to have a lot of fun. But the best part is that an undeniably valuable learning experience is taking place, as well. Incessant exposure to challenging music spurs us to hone our skills, and refine our performance abilities until they exceed our expectations. And even the bonding and memory-making is more than just fun – a choir composed of individuals that know each other well, sing together well. When singing, in fact, they aren’t so much separate individuals. Regardless of their differences, they become like the fibers of a rope, together creating something greater, and stronger than themselves. Something that can bring light, spread joy, and inspire positive change.
            This January, the PLU University Chorale is that “something.” Our tour is entitled “I Can Tell the World,” certainly fitting for a musical voyage that strives to bring whatever light it can to a dark and broken world. Not only does the set bring with it a great message, but there is such diversity in the songs we’ve prepared that I’m fully convinced there is something for every audience member – whether that be the simultaneous warmth and power of a Mendelssohn, the intense rhythmicity of Dello Joio’s “Song of the Open Road” (no slice of pie to learn, might I add), the heart of John Muehleisen’s “When All Is Done,” or simply the uplifting spirit that comes when one hears music sung by a group of passionate people who would rather be doing nothing else.