Honors choir on tour, day 5: a final shining night
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On the last day of their trip, the Honors Choir checked out of their hotel and registered for their Festival performance first thing in the morning. Later, the group attended a private coaching session with Professor Romāns Vanags, a renowned conductor from Latvia. The group worked with him on two songs: “Ave Maria” and Lauridsen’s “Sure On This Shining Night.” Vanags conducted and critiqued the group in order to improve their resonance, blending, and diction.
“The individual coaching with Romāns I think was an added, scaffolded evaluation performance from what we did on Wednesday. I think having the guy who is in charge of all of the choirs in Latvia…work with us on the things that he helped critique on from our Wednesday performance was excellent. He has afforded us opportunity for other potential collaborations in the future,” said Barbosa. “I think he hit the nail on the head…our next hurdle as a group is that although we are an excellently above average high school choir, sometimes we are so concerned about the academic aspects of singing…we forget about the intent of the composer.”
Immediately following this event, the group attended another session with composer Dr. Morten Lauridsen at Princeton High School. Many of the students were able to speak with Lauridsen afterward, take pictures, and get his autograph.
“Meeting Morten Lauridsen was life changing…Not only is he a musical genius, but he also had a good take on life, in short telling us that we should follow our dreams, regardless of what anyone else says,” said Aaron Velez ‘17.
After lunch, the group walked to Princeton’s historical Trinity Church to enjoy one of the many Friendship Concerts put on throughout the Festival.
Due to a timing mistake, what was intended to be a relaxing final dinner together at a popular Princeton restaurant was boxed up and taken to-go. The students were rushed to the rehearsal for the concluding Festival concert. After the rehearsal, the group ate their boxed meals in the lobby of the Princeton High School auditorium, and bonded over the events of the day.
The evening concluded with the championship round of the Festival’s competition portion. The HB Honors Choir watched some of their favorite groups, including the choir from Indonesia, compete for the title. Right after intermission, the HB choir took to the stage with their friends in the other choirs to perform “Dirait-on” and “Sure On This Shining Night” under the baton of Vanags and the accompaniment of Lauridsen himself. It was a beautiful way to end what was, for many, a transcending and illuminating experience.
The Honors Choir family would like to deeply thank our conductor, Matthew Barbosa, for organizing this incredible endeavor. You have given this choir opportunities and experiences we could previously have only dreamt about, and we are incredibly thankful for the time, effort, and love you put into our group and all of your choirs. We are so looking forward to the growth of the choir program under your guidance. Thank you, and we love you. A special thanks also goes to our wonderful chaperones: Band director Dave Umstead, Kathleen Pugh, Debbie Poitras, Amber Fox-McNeil, and Stacey Plummer.