As the Spring semester came to a close, rehearsals for the Chamber Singers held strong as the choir prepared for their upcoming tour. With suitcases packed, they set out for their trip to Ireland and Scotland.Their itinerary was set with kissing the Blarney Stone, enjoying some haggis, and chill-inducing performances in historic cathedrals earlier this May.
UTC Chamber Singers is the main touring choir for the music department. Director Dr. Kevin Ford collaborates with choir members when choosing prospective tour destinations.
“Once we identify the location I research music written in those countries and, when possible, music written for the specific building we will be singing in. Since every building has unique acoustical properties, the students get to experience the music exactly the way it was originally intended. We had to rehearse in each space in order to adjust the way we perform to account for the amount of echo in the buildings,” Ford explained.
Chamber Singers have traveled throughout the United States and internationally. Recent tours took the Singers to Hungary, Austria, and Czech Republic. Ford described highlights from previous trips, emphasizing the surreal moments when their music connected with where they were performing. One of those moments was during their 2007 tour when the group performed Mozart in the church where the composer was baptized, grew up, and even worked for a while.
For their tour through Ireland and Scotland, Ford and the Singers point to their performance at St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland, as most memorable.
“On this 2016 tour, singing to a standing room only audience at St. Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland was very rewarding. The reactions of audience members and their comments after the program let the students know that their work was very much appreciated,” Ford said.
Kristen Thomas echoed Ford’s remarks,
“It was great to see how the crowd reacted and how moved they were. The space was great to sing in and it was one of the most amazing concerts I’ve had the privilege of singing in. It’s incredible to see how music can bring people together from all over the world.”
Corey Johnson said she “got the chills while performing there” and he grew emotional during the performance because “the space was so awesome!”
While the Singers’ performances certainly featured music composed by natives from the areas they visited, they made sure to sprinkle in a bit of UTC too. Their concert at St. Giles Cathedral featured works by Roland Carter, who retired from UTC’s music department in 2013 after 23 years with the University. The Singers finished their concert with Carter’s “You Must Have That True Religion.” You can hear their performance of the piece here.
Outside of their concerts, the Singers were inspired by the natural beauty of the lands they travelled as well. Nathan Schwark and Vanessa Trotmon were fascinated by the beauty of Glendalough, Ireland.
“Being in Glendalough seemed like a fairy tale. With every step, a story unfolded. I could imagine how the people lived in a land untouched by man. I could feel the inspiration that came from the hills on which they tread. It was surreal. For a moment, I felt as if I was living in a time long ago,” Trotmon said.