PHC Chorale Sings in Cathedrals across Europe
It’s difficult for junior Stephanie Monk to believe she actually visited Europe. “It has a magical quality about it, like a fairytale,” she said.
The PHC Chorale performed in a service at the majestic St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Italy.
“I GOT GOOSEBUMPS
MANY TIMES IN THE
Over spring break, PHC’s chorale took its first trip to Europe. Leaving Virginia on April 1, 2010, 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 cappella, sometimes teaming up with local choirs.
For many 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.”
Singing in historical cathedrals and basilicas was a new experience for almost every member of the chorale—a stark change from the lobby of PHC’s Barbara Hodel Center where they typically sing when they want to experience better acoustics.
“I got goose bumps many times in the cathedrals. The majesty and great acoustics of the buildings caused our singing to sound like angels,” sophomore 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.”
During the day, the chorale split up into small groups and explored the city.
Venice was the final stop for the PHC Chorale during their European tour. Their album was recorded in the famous city.
“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.
As Tony Cavicchi and his fellow Texans—freshmen Aaron Strassner and Ben Garner—packed for Europe, one essential item made their list: a Texas flag. Later, the rest of the chorale would be amused as they looked through their photographs and discovered shots of the trio holding the flag in various places they had visited throughout their tour.
For the chorale, a simple smile to another chorale member brings back many memories and inside jokes. To Abby Wolking, it’s the memory of sitting with sophomore Amy Kucks on the back of the bus and laughing hysterically. It’s friends turning into family. It’s roaming the streets of Europe together. To sophomore Charlotte Blacklock, it’s 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.
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. The chorale agreed that this last concert, at the Church of San Rocco in Venice, was the best of the trip. Their voices blended beyond anything they had previously achieved.
“I really felt like we touched the audience in that one,” Blacklock said. “It was our last and we all just gave everything we had, and it worked.”
PHC Dean of Academic Affairs 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 receive a live recording of the PHC Chorale’s performance at the Church of San Rocco in Venice, Italy, on CD, go to: www.phc.edu/chorale.
|About the author
David Halbrook is the director of communications at Patrick Henry College.
Adapted from an article that originally appeared in the PHC Herald on April 16, 2010.