Concert Choir sings their way to Italy

UW- Eau Claire Choir to sing at widely known chapels

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Concert Choir is going to Italy for 10 days during winter break, and will sing in the Sistine Chapel, among other places.

In just a few weeks, the UW-Eau Claire Concert Choir will be traveling to Italy to perform for an international audience.

During their ten-day tour, they will share about 20 different songs at cathedrals in Rome and Florence, as well as seven other cities in Italy.

The choir will perform in the Sistine Chapel and for the Pope himself.

They will leave on Dec. 28 and will return on Jan. 7. The choir has been preparing for the tour the entire semester, preparing each day for about an hour.

Dr. Gary Schwartzhoff, director of Concert Choir, the Singing Statesmen and Chamber Choir is leading the group. Between the tours for Singing Statesmen, Concert Choir and Master Singers, this is the thirteenth tour, Schwartzhoff said.

“Each tour is unique to itself because of the venues we are going to, the country, the people and the culture we are going to experience,” Schwartzhoff said. “The cultural aspect is probably the richest part.”

He said he is looking forward to getting to know the people, as much as they will get to know the choir.

In past years, the choir traveled to Greece, part of continental Europe (Germany and Austria) and England. They tour every two years, Schwartzhoff said.

The choir decided to go to Italy during the holiday season because of many factors, one of the main ones being the cost, Schwartzhoff said.

“When you travel, it makes a difference cost-wise, so they chose to go around Christmas for that reason,” Schwartzhoff said. “It is not so much my choice as it is theirs.”

All singers in the group are required to go on the tour. If a singer cannot make it, they sing with another choir for the semester.

Mariah Sands, a junior music education student is in Concert Choir. Among many of the emotions she is experiencing, she said she feels nervous.

“We’ll be singing for all these different people that we have no idea who they are. Usually, you have your parents or someone that you know in the audience,” Sands said. “Traveling makes me nervous, but overall I am extremely excited to share this music, share our experiences with someone else and gain new experiences.”

Sands said she is looking forward to performing in the Sistine Chapel and St. Mary’s Major. The choir sang at St. Mary’s Minor in Minneapolis, and she is excited to see the difference.

Her favorite song in the program is “Oft have I vowed” by Vijay Singh. The song is about losing someone. Sands says she likes it because it has universal power and everyone can relate to it.

Adam Accola, a fifth year senior voice student, traveled to Portugal with the Singing Statesmen two years ago and is excited to have an international audience again.

“I am looking forward to the impromptu places that we end up,” Accola said.

He said he is very excited to perform “Tonight Eternity Alone” by René Clausen. He said the words are exquisite.

“In a cathedral setting, the music can live in the space, and it will be that much more ethereal,” Accola said.

He is preparing himself for the experience by trying to learn Italian in order to have conversations with local community members. During the tour, the group will have time to interact with audience members and experience the culture firsthand.

Concert Choir will begin their tour Dec. 28 and return Jan.7.