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PHC Chorale Sings in Cathedrals Across Europe

April 19th, 2010

By Michelle Stevens and Chelsea Rankin; pictures by Emily Morcos. Originally published in the PHC Herald, 4/16/10.

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 441-8722
OfficeOfCommunications@phc.edu

The Patrick Henry College Chorale in Europe

Order the Chorale concert tour CD, recorded live at the Church of San Rocco in Venice!

It’s difficult for junior Stephanie Monk to believe she actually visited Europe. “It seems like a good dream,” she said. “It has a magical quality about it, like a fairy tale.”

Over spring break, PHC’s Chorale took its first trip to Europe. Leaving Virginia on April 1st, they spent two days in Munich, two days in Salzburg, two days in Vienna, and two days in Venice before heading back to PHC. They performed English, Latin, German, and Hebrew songs in cathedrals in the evenings. They sang mostly a capella, sometimes teaming up with local choirs.

For many of the Chorale members, this was their first time travelling to Europe. Many were awed by the history and beauty of the three countries they visited.

“It far exceeded my expectations, and my expectations were very high,” senior Zach Simmons said,. “It is so much different to be in a place than it is to read about it.”

Tour guide Anna Maria (L), Dr. Steven McCollum and Dr. Laura McCollum examine a model of the city of Munich, created so blind people could "see" the city's layout

The Chorale was accompanied through Europe by Anna Maria. She was a Hungarian tour guide who was slightly intimidating until the students had a chance to get to know her on a more personal level.

Singing in historical cathedrals and basilicas was a new experience for almost every member of the Chorale—a stark change from the lobby of the Barbara Hodel Center where they typically sing when they want to experience better acoustics.

“I got goosebumps many times in the cathedrals. The majesty and great acoustics of the buildings caused our singing to sound like angels,” freshman Abby Wolking said. “Singing in great cathedrals where famous people have played or lived really brought to life the musical history of Europe for me. It was a great experience.”

The Chorale agreed their last concert at the Church of San Rocco in Venice was the best of the trip. The choir meshed in a way they had not previously and it moved Dr. Laura McCollum to tears. Here, also, they recorded a CD of their concert, which is now available with a $10 donation to Patrick Henry College.

“I really felt like we touched the audience in that one,” sophomore Charlotte Blacklock said. “It was our last and we all just gave everything we had, and it worked.”

Blacklock had a special tie to the last city the choir visited. Her parents were married in Venice, and she enjoyed the opportunity to see the places they visited on their honeymoon.

During the day, the Chorale split up into small groups and roamed around the streets. There was a group for everyone.

“There was the shopping-a-lot group. The walking-fast group. The I-want-to-eat group. The walking-and-sightseeing-but-not-eating group,” said Stephanie Monk.

Freshmen Tiffany Deierlein and Emily Morcos pose by a cut-out of Mozart

As Cavicchi and his fellow Texans -- freshmen Aaron Strassner and Ben Garner -- packed to leave, one essential item made their list: a Texas flag. The trio brought amusement to the rest of the Chorale as they looked through their pictures and discovered pictures of the three holding the flag from various places they had visited throughout their tour.

“I had a tremendous amount of fun sneaking around famous landmarks figuring out how to fly a Texas Flag from the top,” Cavicchi said.

For the Chorale, a simple smile to another Chorale member brings back a plethora of memories and inside jokes. To sophomore Abby Wolking it’s the memory of her and sophomore Amy Kucks sitting on the back of the bus laughing hysterically. It’s friends turning into family. To Blacklock, it’s remembering getting lost in Vienna with Cody Holt and Meredith Mantel.

It’s eating chocolate, stopping in European coffee shops, and hiking to a Salzburg fortress overlooking the Alps.

It’s Erik Landstrom, Jacob Baum, Michelle Stevens, Tia Ly, and Abby Wolking performing in the streets of Vienna, earning five euros, and using it to buy gelato.

It’s roaming the streets of Europe with friends.

On the last night of the trip, the Chorale teamed up with Cora Alpino, a group of “mountain men with long beards,” according to senior Christina Comfort. It was the Chorale’s best concert.

Dr. Laura McCollum had tears streaming down her cheeks and declared that the Chorale had never sounded better. To the Chorale, it was the perfect way to end the trip.

To order your CD of the PHC Chorale's live recording at The Church of San Rocco in Venice, Italy, click here.