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Choir closes tour with concert at College

Kelly Konya | Friday, March 22, 2013


The Saint Mary’s College Women’s Choir will conclude its spring tour where it began, on the College’s campus tonight at 7:30 p.m., in the Church of Loretto.

Dr. Nancy Menk, director of the Women’s Choir, said the group is made up of 41 students. 

Sophomore Claire Stewart said the group enjoys performing for an audience, which pushes them through the physical demands of singing and touring.

“We love to perform,” Stewart said. “We live for that intimate interaction with the audience. It brings us tremendous joy and keeps us going through sickness, exhaustion and sore vocal chords.”

Stewart said the songs in tonight’s concert will span a variety of genres and even languages.

“We sing in four languages – English, Latin, Spanish and Korean, and the songs are about everything from war to spiritual Gospel messages to heartbreak,” she said. “So, no matter what style of music you like, we are bound to sing something that you’ll enjoy.”

The group’s performance tonight will feature choral music by both American and international composers, including Spain’s Eva Ugalde, Korea’s Tae Kyun Ham and Americans Guy Forbes and Gwyneth Walker, Menk said.

Menk said the choir recently returned from a tour of the southeastern United States, traveling to Indianapolis, Louisville, Nashville and Atlanta, and finishing the trip in Fort Lauderdale.  The group visited various female high school and church choirs and also performed its tour songs for these choirs, she said.

Sophomore Nia Parillo said after traveling around the Southeast, she is glad the choir will be singing for the Saint Mary’s campus and the South Bend community.

“Since we were able to show people across the country all of our hard work and how dedicated we are to our talents, we would love to show the students, the staff, and the families of our community what the choir is all about,” Parillo said. “Music means a lot to all of us, and it would be awesome if we could share that with others right here in South Bend.”

Parillo said she could tell they became role-models in the eyes of the girls they visited.

“We were seen as role models for the girls we visited, and it was a great feeling to know that you may have changed a girl’s life by furthering her interest in women’s choirs and music in general.  All of the choirs welcomed us with open arms, and it was an amazing experience,” Parillo said.

The choir stayed with host families during the tour, many of which had Saint Mary’s College alumnae or Notre Dame alumni among them, Menk said.  She said the choir members enjoyed sharing stories of their college experiences, especially their experiences with the choir.

Freshman Nina Martinez said the trip was full of music and brought the group closer together.

“The trip was a non-stop adventure,” Martinez said. “Whether we were on the bus belting out the latest hits from ‘Pitch Perfect’ or serenading the audiences with our sentimental a cappella arrangement of the Irish Blessing, our mutual love of music brought us closer together with each other, with our audiences and with the host families.”

Menk said the group visited the headquarters of CNN, the Florida Everglades, the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Kentucky Derby Museum.

The choir began rehearsing their tour songs in the beginning of the fall semester, Menk said. Stewart said after the tour they reached a point where they knew their songs backward and forward.

Parillo said because of the year-long rehearsals, she and other choir members who were abroad in the fall had to work hard to catch up with the rest of the group when they returned in January.

“Some of the women, like myself, were abroad last semester, so we had to put in extra hours of work to make sure the songs were ready for performances,” she said. 

Parillo said the group as a whole was pleased with its tour performances.

“We are very proud of the results of all of our hard-work and especially thankful for Dr. Menk’s dedication to making sure our songs are spotless,” she said.

The Saint Mary’s College Bellacappella group will also perform at the concert, Menk said. Bellacappella is a smaller group than the Women’s Choir and the only a cappella group at Saint Mary’s.

Menk said tickets for Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame students are free with a College or University ID, and tickets for both faculty and staff are discounted.