On January 5, the AU Chorale, comprised of about 50 students, boarded a bus and began their winter tour.
Their first stop was Grace Place in Hermitage, Tennessee. Next, they traveled to Falkville, Alabama, Meridian, Mississippi, and then to New Orleans, Louisiana, where they had their tourist day to explore the city.
After New Orleans, they headed to Bartlett, Tennessee, Jackson, Missouri, and made their last stops in Vincennes and Indianapolis, Indiana.
During their concerts, Chorale sang multiple pieces such as a version of the hymn, “Take My Hand, Precious Lord,” “Lacrimosa” by Mozart, and “Magnificat” by Bach.
The tour provides the unique opportunity to be housed by people from the churches in every area instead of staying in hotels.
Senior music composition major Kameron Mechling shared that staying in these houses was a very interesting experience.
“There are a lot of really amazing stories about it,” Mechling said. “Some of the houses we go to are immaculate and better than any hotel we could ever go to.”
The host homes gave them an opportunity to experience each city more than if they stayed in a hotel every night.
“It’s really good economically for us, but it’s also really exciting to connect with the people in many different cities.”
Mechling said that spending a couple days in New Orleans was a very notable experience.
“New Orleans is crazy, and the food was amazing,” he said. “I had never tried gumbo or etouffee, and it was really, really good.”
On their tourist day, they were able to experience the culture of New Orleans.
“We went on this ghost, vampire and voodoo tour where we got to learn about the spooky side of New Orleans, its roots and the history behind the cool architecture there,” he said. “The whole presentation and everything was probably the best $50 I spent there.”
Sophomore musical theatre major Skyla Bruno said that New Orleans was also her favorite stop.
“Our tourist day was in New Orleans, and it is a crazy city, but the food was amazing, the people were weird and it was great,” she said.
Bruno also said that the best part of the Chorale tour was getting close with all the other members.
“We stay at a lot of houses together, and it’s all random, so you stay with different people every time,” she said. “I got to spend the night with people I don’t hang out with a lot, which is really cool. I also just love going to new places and meeting the people there.”
Bruno said that, as a tradition, they make funny videos throughout the year, and they get to watch them while traveling on the bus.
“Before every concert we all sit in a circle and have a devotional,” Bruno said. “Every night it’s a different person’s job to lead the devotional.”
They also have another way of building each other up throughout the week.
“We do these encouragement letters throughout the week. A lot of us will be on the team, and we get assigned to people to write notes to throughout the week.”
Bruno said that the tour was very long, but that it was a great experience.
Freshman songwriting major Grace Dearing said that it’s hard to choose just one favorite moment because the whole tour was so much fun.
“We were all having such a good time, and we all get along so well,” she said.
“I think one of my favorite things was the last two devotionals that we had before our concerts,” said Dearing. “People were really opening up, and everyone was getting really emotional. I feel like it just brought us all closer together, and it was really nice to see people open up and tell some things that you wouldn’t otherwise know about them.”
Dearing said that the host homes were interesting and a lot of fun.
“You never knew what you were going to get, so you didn’t know if you would be sleeping on an air mattress or an actual bed. Every host home I had was very nice and accommodating, and they always had snacks to give us when we left.”
Another tradition that Dearing found very enjoyable was something that they do at the end of every concert.
“We all hold hands in a circle, surround the audience and sing ‘The Lord Bless You and Keep You.’ It’s a very nice and chill way to end every show, and it’s something the audience can take with them,” she said.
This semester, Chorale will be performing Flos Campi and John Rutter’s Reqiuem with the Anderson Symphony Orchestra on Saturday, February 23 at 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in York Performance Hall.
In the spring, they will perform Mozart’s Requiem and Morten Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna with the Carmel Symphony Orchestra on Saturday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m. at the Palladium.