Friday, February 15, 2013

Choir of the West travels to Canada

Singers receive standing ovation on winter tour 

by Camille Adams, A&E Writer


    This past January, a group of very talented Choir of the West singers headed across the border into Canada. COW, PLU’s premiere ensemble, took their winter tour north to Ballard and Bellingham, as well as Vancouver and Victoria, B.C. 

    All of the singers participated in four hours of rehearsal Monday through Thursday during the intensive J-term course. Senior Kimberly Stone said, “we got to the point in rehearsal where we were so comfortable, we picked it apart, and went for perfection.” 

    The ensemble premiered three songs written specifically for Choir of the West by Dr. Brian Galante, senior Julian Reisenthel and Latvian composer Eriks Esenvalds. 

    The tour’s musical repertoire included music spanning various periods and styles, including Johannes Brahms, Francis Poulenc and even one piece enhanced by pitches played on wine glasses.

    The first two concerts, given at Our Redeemer’s Lutheran and Our Savior’s Lutheran churches, were highly populated with PLU alums, as well as local high school and university students. 

    Choir of the West participated in a “choir share” — when one choir visits another and they perform for each other — with Western Washington University’s Concert Choir and also performed for Squalicum High School’s choir. 

    Once across the border, the ensemble prepared to sing for our Canadian neighbors, but first, they indulged in some impromptu Adele during rehearsal at Ryerson United Church. Senior Stephanie Bivins said, “I think we really needed to let loose.” 

    Following an evening concert and sight-seeing in Vancouver, the choir took a ferry to Victoria. 

    The singers’ next concert took place at St. John the Divine Anglican Church, which Stone described as “the prettiest church I’ve seen in North America.” Junior Mark Walsworth said, “that evening’s concert was the most emotional for me.” 

    The choir’s emotionally raw performance seemed to also resonate deeply with the audience, as they received a rousing, standing ovation. “What got me,” Walsworth said, “was the 80-year-old man, who struggled so hard to pull himself up with the railing so he could stand and clap with everyone else.”

    Throughout the tour, Choir of the West was periodically housed and fed by various church and community members. 

    The choir performed “thank you” songs for their supporters, and members of PLUtonic even serenaded Charlie, the choir’s bus driver.

    Before the ensemble turned homeward once again, the singers took part in a church service. 

    “To have a collective spiritual experience while singing was a really bonding moment for us,” Bivins said. The choir performed Julian Reisenthel’s original composition, because they said they felt it fit well with the message of the pastor’s sermon.

    Choir of the West’s winter tour culminated in a final homecoming concert in Lagerquist Concert Hall. Although a J-term tour requires intense, hard work, choir members said it was a fulfilling time of music and bonding.

    “We have so much privilege to be singing here at PLU,” Stone said. “I love that we get to share it with others.” 

    Choir of the West’s next challenge lies in keeping music fresh for their upcoming tour to Dallas this March.

Upcoming events:

University Chapel
March 8 at 10:30 a.m.
Mary Baker Russel

National ACDA Preview Concert
March 12 at 7:30 a.m.
Christ Episcopal Church

ACDA National Conference
March 14 - 17
Dallas, Texas