Honors Choir on tour, days 2 and 3: of concerts and competitions
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The second day of the Honors Choir’s journey began with a tour within a tour. Director Matthew Barbosa led the group around the area of Princeton surrounding his alma mater, Westminster Choir College, pointing out his favorite restaurants and hang-out spots. After the group had lunch, they traveled to Princeton High School for an evaluation performance.
The Honors Choir will not be participating in the competition portion of the Sing ‘N Joy Princeton festival, but Barbosa wanted the group to experience what it is like to receive professional critique. The group performed “Abendlied,” “Anoj Pusej Dunojello,” and “Ave Maria” for their three judges.
Afterwards, the group went to the Princeton High School auditorium to rehearse two pieces, “Dirait-on” and “Sure On This Shining Night,” with their composer, Morten Lauridsen. The group will be performing these two songs, along with every festival choir participating in Sing ‘N Joy, at the conclusion of the Festival this Sunday.
Following dinner, the group returned to the auditorium to watch the opening concert of the Sing ‘N Joy festival, which featured choirs from Indonesia, China, Puerto Rico, and more.
Friday started off with an official tour of Westminster Choir College with one of Barbosa’s former students. The group was able to sing some of their Friendship Concert material in a rehearsal space with incredible acoustics. After lunch, they were fortunate to observe the Choir College’s Symphonic Choir, which includes all Westminster juniors, seniors, and non-student teaching graduates.
After lunch, the group returned to the Westminster campus for a class in handbell ringing. Westminster is the leading school in the handbell world, and the institution own a variety of bells, some of which cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Their handbell choir has toured across the country.
The Honors Choir learned handbell ringing technique, and sight-read a short handbell choir arrangement of Haydn’s Surprise Symphony.
Following the handbells demo the Choir had a question and answer session with current music education majors at Westminster. The Westminster students asked the visiting class about life in the Honors Choir and had plenty of questions for Barbosa about his teaching style. The session concluded with the entire group standing in a circle and singing a Westminster (and Honors Choir) staple, “The Lord Bless You and Keep You.”
Right before dinner, the Honors Choir was able to observe a practice of Westminster’s audition-only Williamson Choir. Lauridsen made another appearance, discussing the inspirations behind his pieces and leading the group in rehearsal of one of his songs.
The Honors Choir attempted to have dinner at a pizza place, but after a few wrong turns they simply drove through Burger King and made it to the Friendship Concert at Trinity Church with only minutes to spare. Having missed their rehearsal slot, they arrived frazzled from the chaos of the ride. But the group came together and knocked their performance out of the park.
They performed “Anoj Pusej Dunojello,” “Abendlied,” “Ave Maria,” “Loch Lomond” and “Hark I Hear the Harps Eternal.” After the concert, the Choir met a charter arts high school group from Philadelphia who performed in the concert and who happened to be learning “Abendlied” as well. Together they sang that song in the middle of the Cathedral with one of the collegiate members beatboxing.
Then, the night only got better when HB introduced themselves to the choir from Indonesia. Together they learned the notes and choreography to the Indonesians’ performance, and took many pictures together.
“I liked the connection that we made with other people; it was really organic. It was cool to talk to people that have different experiences but the same interests as us,” said Laurie Houvener ‘19.
This is the second installment in a series narrating the Honor’s Choir trip. Be sure to stay tuned for further updates!