On the road with the EuroChoir: The college choir is currently performing in churches throughout Europe. Here students and alumni share thoughts on their travels. Saint Anselm College's choir with 32 students, 7 alumni, and Fr. Bede Camera, O.S.B., are touring Europe during this week's spring break. Singing unaccompanied, they're performing 18 pieces of sacred music in churches throughout southern France, Monaco, and Spain. See photos of the choir's travels on the college Flickr site, courtesy of Bobby Aldrich, assistant to the choir director.
By Melanie Kessler '12
As a senior, in my final year at Saint A’s and what is my first and last EuroChoir trip, I find that my experiences and perspectives are much different from some of the other students. I have always found much enjoyment in traveling, however this trip holds new and eye-opening experiences that I would not have found by participating in any other trip. Each time we sing in a breathtaking and beautiful cathedral I have to pinch myself and realize that this experiences will not come around again! I have felt God’s presence in a new and wonderful way when I am singing to Him in the settings we are able worship in. It is hard to call these opportunities a performance for anyone other than God. It has given me the chance to thank Him for the having been able to participate with the group on this trip and also for all of the other experiences that He has provided to me throughout my years at Saint Anselm. I have found that I am able to connect my education that I have received at Saint A’s to some of the experiences I have been blessed to have on this trip.
By Amanda Carrington '11
As an alumna, traveling to Europe with the choir is an incredible experience that brings with it a wonderful variety of emotions and memories. In many ways it’s a time of bittersweet reminiscence. As it frequently happens, I was reflecting quite a bit on my four years as a member today during a very rare and special tour and concert of the Palais du Papes, or the Papal Palace in Avignon, France. The choir was scheduled to sing in the afternoon but would have the opportunity to tour the palace beforehand, and they did, but today was not an everyday tour.
As the choir, alumni, and older guests meandered their way through the great stone rooms, we gazed at the magnificent painted walls of the Pope’s chambers and were awed by the intricate statues that adorned the walls. We were given self-guided tour controls, which we held up to our ears to listen to all the rich history they had to offer. It was a bit of a task however to manage those while attempting to click away with our cameras at every breathtaking view or artifact within each room. At one point, while trying my best to manage my audio guide and my camera, I became almost subconsciously distracted by the sound of a familiar song, one I hold very dear to my heart. As I realized that it was the song “I Love You Lord” being sung in the distance, I immediately went to find where it was coming from.
As I turned a corner and walked through an archway, I entered into the largest hall of the palace, with eighty foot stone ceilings and walls one hundred yards long, and right there in the very center was the choir in gowns and tuxes, standing in a circle, singing this beautiful song we all love so dearly. My eyes immediately welled up with tears at the sight and sound of what I was experiencing. While hurrying to join them I noticed just how angelic they sounded and how completely filled with love and joy they were. Some had their eyes closed, heads turned towards the light coming through the windows, the others looking at each other with smiles that only come from true friendship, happiness, and shared passion. In their eyes you could see a love for music, a great respect for the rareness of this spontaneous opportunity, and a sense of unity, where even the breaths they took were perfectly in sync. Having been a choir member for four years, I knew exactly how they were feeling, hence the tears of sentimentality at witnessing this familiar and yet rare bond.
When the song came to its end, the members stood silent, taking in the last few beautiful notes echoing in the great hall. They smiled at one another, then laughed because of the pure spontaneity and awesomeness of the moment, and then simply went back to the tour and picture-taking as before. In looking around, though, the other visitors did not return to their tours right away. Some stood frozen, taking in the beautiful music they just heard, while a few others even shed tears, and in my mind I thought, “that is St.A’s choir.” Those few short minutes encompassed our essence as a group, our love for music, our need to share it with others, and our desire to inspire a passion for music and for the simple enjoyment of life in our audiences. Once more, I believe they accomplished just that, and the concert hadn’t even begun yet.
By Nate Chartier '13
This trip has been an amazing experience so far! They say that music is the universal language and that has been confirmed by the smiles we have seen. The people here love our music and spirituality. A trip like this is remarkable because there are so many opportunities to experience beauty. From the palms of the Cote d’Azure to the magnificent churches and artwork, there is always something beautiful around the corner here. To be able to do what I love, sing praise to God, is awesome. To be able to share my passion with complete strangers and somehow make a connection with them is awe-inspiring. As enriching as it must be for the audience, it is also very enriching for us, the singers. We offer our voices to God and he multiplies our gift.