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Saint Mary’s choir prepares for five-state tour

Tabitha Ricketts | Wednesday, March 6, 2013

While many students are packing up their bags for trips home or to tropical locations, the Saint Mary’s College Women’s Choir is gearing up for a five-state performance tour.

Sophomore Claire Stewart, a member of the choir, said she’s looking forward to sharing some of the group’s latest pieces with audiences.

“I’m really excited for the tour, I think it’s going to be one of the highlights of the semester for me,” Stewart said. “We’re singing a lot of interesting music, and in a lot of interesting cities that I’ve never been to.”

The choir’s director, Dr. Nancy Menk, said the tour is an opportunity to improve the quality of the group’s performance.

“It’s great for the choir,” Menk said. “We always sound a million times better when we come back. Mainly it’s the refinement of the music that takes place from constantly performing it. That’s why our homecoming concert is always a really good one.”

The choir will leave Friday and will stop in cities in Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida.

“We are singing with another choir in every city,” Menk said. “It’s goodwill, it’s exchange – they get to sing with us. They’re all high school choirs, so they get to hear the more mature voices. The teachers usually like to bring us in to sing for the kids because they think we’re a good model; something they can aspire to.”

Sophomore Nia Parillo said pairing with high school choirs is an opportunity to put the group’s performance skills to the test.

“I think it’s going to be really cool to work with each other,” Parillo said. “It’s kind of a test to see how professional we are. If they’re doing the same things we are, or if they are like, ‘Oh my gosh, they’re so good, I can’t wait to go to a collegiate level choir,’ that’s going to make us feel good and [let’s us] know that our hard work is paying off.”

Menk said she is looking forward to hearing the choir perform in the various venues.

“I’m looking forward to singing some of our a cappella pieces in some of the spaces we are going to be singing,” Menk said. “I’ve heard they have very good acoustics, especially in Atlanta, Florida and Louisville. I know some of our music will sound really great there.”

Menk said the frequent performances won’t consume all of the choir’s time.

“We get to do some fun sightseeing stuff too; it’s not just work,” Menk said. “In every city we try to get to the main attraction in that city. There’s plenty of fun built in. And we are going to end up in Florida, so they are going to have a beach day.”

Stewart said the enjoyable performances and recreational aspects of the trip make the hard work worthwhile.

“We’re definitely giving up a lot of time for it, and it’s going to be really intense in terms of the amount of work we have to put into singing, but I think I’m going to have way more fun on this trip than I would at home, because none of my friends have the same break,” she said.

First-year Carrie Dubeau said she is excited to both represent Saint Mary’s to unfamiliar audiences and to experience some locations for the first time.

“We get to go places that I would never actually go,” said Dubeau. “I would never get to visit these cities otherwise, in one week.”

Stewart said she is also excited to visit a few of the destinations for the first time.

“The only place I’ve been is Indianapolis, out of all the places we’re going, so I’m really excited to get to see different places,” said Stewart. “It’s kind of a cool dynamic. We get to sing a lot, but on the other hand we get to have some fun.”

Soon after they return to campus, the choir will perform a homecoming concert on March 22 at 7:30 p.m.

“It’s the result of the tour and [students will] hear a really polished performance,” Dr. Menk said.