Choir Members and Alumni Share Thoughts on Their European Concert Tour

Choir singing

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.

Choir Updates from Concert Tour in Europe

Choir visiting Pont-du-Gard

Sunday, March 4, Barcelona, Spain to Manchester, N.H.
After three nights in Barcelona we pack up in the morning and head for the airport to come home. The students arrived late on Thursday and got an orientation to the city from our tour guide Ciaran Moss. On Friday they had the entire day free to plan their own sightseeing and activities. Most took advantage of the day to sleep-in and then packed in as much adventure as they could. They shopped and ate along La Rambla, a mile-long pedestrian walkway through the heart of Barcelona lined with shops and cafes. They spent time down on the water admiring the Port of Barcelona (one of Europe’s largest) and looking at the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. Almost everyone visited both the Barcelona Cathedral as well as Gaudi’s famous Basilica Sagarada Familia (Church of the Holy Family). At night I am sure they explored the nightlife of Spain!

On Saturday we took an early tour of a Benedictine Monastery high atop the mountains just outside of Barcelona – Montserrat. Home to just under 100 monks it is also where you can find the Virgin of Montserrat, one of the black Madonna’s of Europe depicting the Virgin Mary and infant Christ. A beautiful train ride to the top of the mountain with breathtaking views both inside and outside of the abbey’s church. Following the visit, Fr. Bede celebrated a private Mass for the group in a local church prior to our final concert and a farewell banquet.

At the farewell banquet it was announced that plans are already being made to continue the choir’s tradition of traveling to Europe every other year. A preliminary itinerary is being drafted for the group’s 6th European Concert Tour in 2014 to Budapest (Hungary), Bratislava (Slovakia), Prague (Czech Republic).

Wednesday, Feb. 29, Avignon to Perpignan, France
It is hard to believe but this morning when we boarded the bus to travel from Avignon, the trip was half over! Five days down, five days to go.

Today was a travel day so we left Avignon early and headed for the walled city of Carcassonne. After about three hours on the bus, the students enjoyed some free time for lunch and then a guided tour of the castle and cathedral of the city. A day with no performing but yet full of rich history. After spending the afternoon in Carcassonne, we were back on the bus to spend the night in Perpignan, a city just in from the Mediterranean Coast, just short of the Spanish border. A very low key night. Everyone is very tired and I think it will be an early night for most as the students are resting up for the final leg of the trip in Barcelona!

Tomorrow is our longest travel day as we are off to Saint Martin Abbey located high atop the Pyrenees Mountains. In fact in order to perform the choir will hike up a steep one-mile mountain path to the top of the mountain where the walled-in abbey awaits. The Abbey was constructed in 1009 as a residence for Benedictine Monks! They inhabited the abbey continuously for almost 775 years. Following the communities dissolution in 1783 the abbey fell into disrepair until it was restored in 1902 by the Bishop of Perpignan. Today it is home to the Community of the Beatitudes. When planning the trip it has become custom that the choir performs in a Benedictine Monastery while in Europe, something we have done since our first trip in 2004.

Following our visit and performance at Saint Martin we cross a border and are off to the town of Figueres, Spain. Best known as the home of surrealist painter Salvador Dali. The students will have an opportunity to spend some time exploring the city and visiting the Dali Museum. After our afternoon stop in Figueres we are off to Barcelona where we will spend the next three nights – our last stop on the tour.

On the road with the EuroChoir: The college choir is currently performing in churches throughout Europe and assistant to the choir director, Bobby Aldrich '01, is sending updates on the group's whereabouts.

Saint Anselm College's choir with 32 students, 2 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.

Tuesday, Feb. 28, Avignon, France

The choir will perform twice today. A morning of sightseeing. The group traveled to the Pont du Guard this morning just outside of Avignon, France. It is the home of one of the few remaining in-tact Roman Aqueducts. Just short of 2,000 years old the students had an opportunity to visit the site and actually walk across the structure above the river. We posed for these pictures below. Everyone is having a wonderful time.

This afternoon we will actually get a chance to perform at the Papal Palace and tonight will perform a concert at a local church – the Church of Saint Agricola. There are posters all over the city promoting our concert.

The Papal Palace in Avignon was the home to 7 popes from 1305 to 1377. Six popes were elected here in Avignon, including Pope Urban V, a member of the Order of Saint Benedict. We performed in the grand hall of the palace where the papal conclaves were held when the popes of Avignon were elected; a wonderful and spiritual experience for the students.

Another concert tonight at The Church of Saint Agricola, named after Agricola of Avignon, a bishop of the city of Avignon who was a monk at a nearby Abbey and is most well known for building a convent for Benedictine nuns near the city. Ah, another Benedictine connection… Just wait until my update for Thursday!

A wonderful concert with a great turnout. The parish and the tour company did a wonderful job promoting it throughout the city. We probably had between 75 and 100 people show up and a standing ovation at the end with an encore. Performed for well over an hour. Father Bede spent a considerable amount of time talking to the audience in French. He is very much enjoying being able to speak the language. It has been a long time since he taught French up on the hilltop!

Big travel day tomorrow. On the bus all morning to the walled city of Carcassonne (just over 3 hours from Avignon). We have a tour of the city with a local guide and lunch. Then back on the bus to Perpignan where we will spend the night. No performances tomorrow; a day off.

Monday, Feb. 27, Cannes, France

Yesterday (Monday) was a travel day. After leaving Cannes we stopped in Aix en Provence and Arles on our way to Avignon. Avignon is a beautiful walled city and the students enjoyed free time last night after our arrival to explore it on their own. Avignon is often referred to as the “City of Popes” as it is home to the Palace of the Popes where popes and antipopes took up residence from 1309 to 1423.

Sunday, Feb. 26, in Monaco

This morning (Sunday) the choir performed for the 10:30a.m. Mass at the Cathedral in Monaco. Following Mass we performed a 30-minute concert for an audience of parishioners and visitors to the cathedral. They have quite a lot of tourists coming in and out due to the burial site of Princess Grace Kelly. It was a wonderful experience in a beautiful venue!

Following a day in Monaco the choir performed its first performance tonight in Cannes, France at the Church of Our Lady of the Pines.

College Hosts 23 Teams at Regional Mock Trial Tournament

Alyssa Hatem '12 with fellow teammates

Last weekend, February 17 – 19, Saint Anselm College hosted more than 185 students as part of the American Mock Trial Association’s (AMTA) Qualifying Tournament. Twenty-three teams from colleges and universities all over New England competed in four rounds. Saint Anselm mock trial captain and club co-founder, Alyssa Hatem ’12, received the All Region Attorney award. There were also awards given for All Region Witness and 2012 Spirit of AMTA. [Read more...]

Saint Anselm Alumnae Named Top 40 Under Forty

Alumnae (L-R) Colleen (Casey) Farley '05 and Jennifer Durant '02

Saint Anselm is proud to announce that alumnae Jennifer Durant '02 and Colleen Farley '05, have been named to The Union Leader's 11th class of 40 Under Forty. The Union Leader is New Hampshire's largest daily newspaper. Every year the newspaper names 40 of the state's up and coming citizens, recognizing them for their charity and success.

[Read more...]

Payroll Tax Extension Counterproductive but not Harmful

Amy Schmidt, Ph.D.
Amy Schmidt, Ph.D.

Amy Schmidt, Ph.D.

On the Payroll Tax
While the Senate breaks for the Christmas holiday, the House of Representatives is taking a stand on the payroll tax, rejecting the bill days from the year-end deadline. If the bill doesn’t pass Congress by December 31, taxes will rise to 6.2% from 4.2% in the new year.

Regarding the current impasse, economics and business professor Amy Schmidt says:

"The national economy is still fragile. Letting the rate return to its pre-cut level is effectively a tax increase. Studies find that most people are spending the payroll tax cut—as opposed to tax cuts received by high-income individuals who tend to save more of a tax cut. But according to the CBO  the tax cut amounts to about $20 billion over the next year if it is extended over the next two months. If it was extended for the next year, multiply that by 6 (my ballpark, not the CBOs) and you have $120 billion. The federal budget is over $3 trillion and Gross Domestic Product is about $15 trillion. It is unlikely that not passing the extension will throw us into a recession, but it is counterproductive. Similarly unemployment benefits are spent. To the extent that the reason unemployed individuals are out of work is because they are unable to find a job and not because they aren’t willing to accept a job, a reduction in those benefits will also have a negative effect on the economy."

On Occupy Wall Street
Regarding the movement, Schmidt says:

"Income inequality is at a historic high. I believe there is reason for concern. Democrats and Republicans seem to be talking past each other. I do not know how well organized or effective the Occupy movement will be in the long run, but they have brought the topic into mainstream discussion and it is likely to be part of the Presidential campaign.

Republicans, in general, are most concerned about growth of GDP. The income distribution does not seem to be a big concern to them. They oppose taxing those at the high end of the distribution because they are the “job creators”—which I think is too broad a brush to paint them with. My personal view is that there is a tradeoff between efficient taxation (which reduces growth the least) and equity. The United States has generally chosen to err on the side of efficiency compared to all other industrialized nations.

Democrats are also concerned about growth, but are also concerned about the income distribution. They have favored raising taxes on those making over $250,000 (the top 2%) and spending more on stimulus measures that are aimed especially at unemployed construction workers. The Republicans are opposed to stimulus."

Professor Schmidt's research interests include education and labor markets. She teaches Principles of Micro and Macroeconomics, Intermediate Macroeconomics, Econometrics, Statistics, Labor Economics and Environmental Economics. She has been interviewed by The Union Leader, New Hampshire Public Radio, and WMUR.

To speak to Professor Schmidt, please call Barbara LeBlanc at (603) 641-7241 (office) or (603) 486-8760 (cell).

This post was submitted by Laura Lemire.

Submit a Reflection on 9/11

Flags

It is at moments such as these when this place truly becomes the center of our campus, because it is here that we can we come with the deepest longing of our hearts for peace, and it is here than we can come with the sorrow, confusion, and anxiety of our hearts to ask our just and merciful God for his assistance.

As a campus community we have gathered to stand with one another in shock and sorrow for what has happened in our country today, to stand with one another on the side of faith, and to stand with one another on the side of peace and non-violence in our world.
–Father Jonathan DeFelice, O.S.B., president of Saint Anselm College

This is how Father Jonathan opened a special mass celebrated on September 11, 2001 at noon in the Abbey Church, after the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. Ten years later, we will mark the 10th year anniversary of that sorrowful day with a weekend of prayer and reflection.

We keep in mind the toll that 9/11 took on our community. Richard Keane '69 and Stephen Roach '86 lost their lives in the World Trade Towers that day. Since then, many of our alumni served and continue to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, where in 2009 Marine Captain Kyle Van De Giesen ’02 lost his life.

We invite you, members of the Saint Anselm community, to share your thoughts and your reflections on the anniversary. What does this date mean to you? How did the events of 9/11 and succeeding years affect your life, your country? What have you learned since then?

Please share your thoughts with your fellow Anselmians.

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Father Jonathan's Homily September 11, 2001

Fr. Jonathan, O.S.B.

At 12 p.m. on September 11, 2001, the Saint Anselm community gathered in the Abbey Church for a special Mass. Father Jonathan DeFelice, O.S.B. delivered the following homily at that time:

My dear brothers and sisters,

I have not had any more time than you have had to reflect on what has happened today. I come to you with thoughts from a heart as confused and anxious and your own may be.

When we gathered just a week ago here in this Abbey Church we did so with the joy and anticipation of another academic year beginning. We gathered to ask God’s blessing on us and our world. Today – just one week later — we have come with profound sorrow and grief as our nation has suffered unprecedented terrorist attacks that have taken the lives of as yet unknown numbers of innocent men and women. We know definitely that one of our alumni was in that World Trade Center Tower this morning – though we do not know his fate — and I ask your prayers for him, Stephen Roach, class of 1986, husband and father of three. We know that others connected to us work in that building as well. Whether they were there or not, we do not know, but please pray for them.

But this is a tragedy beyond Saint Anselm College. This is a tragedy for our nation that will change forever the way we are in the world. We can no longer say: not here, not us. For it has happened. And for all our lives we shall remember this day as the moment when our history and our lives changed.

Even as we see the awful images on the television screen, we may ask how this can happen in our age, in our country, in our world. How can this happen here – though for others it has been a way of life. There is no other answer than that evil can so take hold in hearts of human beings that it causes them to commit the most heinous acts of violence. There is no answer but that. There is no other answer than that the human heart can be so turned against another, that it causes the harm we see today.

On Friday we spent the day talking about the art of politics, about the replacement of war with dialogue, about the need for good people to do good things in our world…and today we see the effects of a different world view – one that believes that if I do not agree with you, I can do anything to cause you harm, to destroy you.

Jesus knew the human heart better than any of us ever will. And what did he say: not only “Do not commit murder” but “do not use abusive language towards one another,” “do not hold one another in contempt,” “do not leave your gift at the altar if you know that you need to be reconciled with your brother or sister.

Let us ask God today to remove from us even the traces of evil that could cause us to hate; let us beg his mercy on those who performed these awful acts; and let us pray for the victims and their families, that God will welcome those who died to the everlasting peace of his kingdom and that he will console those who remain the consolation only he can give.

Father Jonathan DeFelice, O.S.B.
President of the College

Mass invoking God’s Mercy for the living and the dead on the day of terrorist bombing
September 11, 2001, 12 p.m. in the Abbey Church

 

 

 

 

 

Father Jonathan's Homily on First Anniversary of 9/11

The Abbey Cross

And Jesus said: “Blessed are they who mourn; blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness; blessed are the peacemakers.” Blessed are we because today we mourn. Blessed are we because today we commit ourselves again to righteousness and peace. But also — Blessed are we because we live in a land where freedom rules. Blessed are we because we live in this land where we can come together as a community of faith to pray as we choose without fear, without interference from government. Blessed are we because we live in a land where women and men can be educated to seek the truth wherever it is to be found. Blessed are we because we have our faith, and we have one another, and we can find God in our midst.

Those of us who were here a year ago came together in this sacred place on this day, not knowing for sure what was happening or how it would end. We did not know what to say, except to call out to God for help. We had seen the unthinkable happen before our eyes. We saw evil in a way many of us had never seen it before. And then day and weeks passed and we learned who; then why. We heard our leaders speak words that stirred our hearts and minds: “Freedom was attacked by a faceless coward. Freedom will be defended.” (President Bush) We heard our leaders speak the words that we felt in the depths of our being: “Our hearts are broken, but they are beating stronger than ever.” (Mayor Giuliani)

The terrorists wanted us to believe that it was religion, not evil that caused our losses in New York and Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon. But through every day and every month that followed that awful morning as we read accounts of the innocent lives lost, we came to know those men and women who were guilty of nothing else but having gone to work in the morning, guilty of nothing else but going about living their lives in our free country, some putting their own lives on the line, first to rescue then recover. And we knew even more certainly what we had seen. As one New York Times commentator said: “Part of what makes civilization civilized is a natural reluctance to believe unconscionable evil until it is realized in front of us. Because of September 11th our civilization is less civilized…but it is more conscious, and therefore more alive.” (NY Times Magazine, Andrew Sullivan)

One year ago not only did our civilization suffer but even more personally our community suffered as well – as we lost Richard Keane from the class of 1969 and Stephen Roach from the class of 1986, and Orio Palmer, a cousin of our admission officer, Sean Ryan. They with the hundreds of others that day left behind families and communities and places of worship behind. They can never be replaced. We remember…and for them we mourn deeply again today.

We have seen during this year what price freedom must sometimes pay. We have seen what oppression and terror can do to a people. We have seen heroism in the face of horror and we have seen a nation convinced that freedom comes from God and it shall not be taken away. So today we pray that peace – God’s peace will triumph not only for us but also for the world. We believe that in Christ all things are possible. We believe that what we have learned and received about what is true, and honorable, and worthy of praise is the truth of God’s victory in Christ. This is the faith that compels us to pray deeply for all who suffer…and for our enemies as well. This is the faith that compels us to remove all prejudice and jealousy, all hatred and evil from our hearts, so that we can remove them from our world as well. For this we pray together today.

My dear brothers and sisters, last year I went to New York and prayed with our alumni and friends there for our nation and for those we lost. I stood near ground zero when the rubble was still piled high and one could still breathe the heavy air of our nation’s sorrow. Time has healed some wounds for all of us. The rubble is gone; the air is lighter. Tonight I will be in New York again; and again I shall stop to pray for those we lost and for our nation’s future: all of you will be in my heart.

God bless you all. And God bless America!

Father Jonathan DeFelice, O.S.B.
Sept. 11, 2002
Abbey Church

Video: The Daily Show's John Oliver on Losing his Soul

Ahmed Saeed Interviews Daily Show Funny Man John Oliver

Tonight during a break in debate action, Saint Anselm student Ahmed Saeed '13 interviewed The Daily Show's John Oliver. Asked about the spin room and speaking with candidates and the media following the debate, John Oliver said, "I've been in three or four spin rooms while on The Daily Show and I lose a piece of my soul whenever I go. I don't even know how many I've got left, I may lose the last piece tonight." Oliver continued by saying they make him feel "hollow" and affect his "belief in humanity and democracy."

Upon interviewing Oliver, Ahmed Saeed, an international relations major from Manchester, N.H., admitted he was nervous. "It was a very Nixon-Frost sort of ordeal, if you know what I mean?"

Yes, Ahmed, we know exactly what you mean.

 

 

Heard Today on Campus

John King on stage
John King on stage

John King on stage before the debates began

Sam Feist, CNN Washington Bureau Chief and Debate Producer, on stage: "We feel like we're family now. Every four years we come here to do debates. It's like coming home."

John King: "There's another event going on tonight but that's why God made TiVo."

Kevin Ward '12, welcoming audience: "I stand here in awe. As a communication major, I never thought I'd be standing on the same stage where seven presidential candidates were going to debate."

Liz Kulig '13, picked up Wolf Blitzer from the airport: "He liked the Simon and Garfunkel music I picked out. I wasn't going to subject him to Lady Gaga."

Liz Ossoff, professor on Sirius Radio: "New Hampshire isn't just a place to go skiing."

Neil Levesque, NHIOP Executive Director: "My favorite part is seeing our students up on stage standing in for the candidates, because some day one of them might be up there for real."

Father Jonathan, O.S.B, president of Saint Anselm College, on stage: "Pardon my voice but it was alumni weekend and I spent too much time under the tent."

William "Burke" Bero, politics major: "This is what I've been waiting for for three and a half years."

David Bohrman, Senior VP CNN: "YouTube seems so four years ago, doesn't it?"

Quotes collected by Laurie Morrissey