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Liturgical Choir travels to Austria, Czech Republic for annual tour

| Friday, March 18, 2016

ROME — On March 6, the Notre Dame Liturgical Choir found itself in the loft of the Salzburg Cathedral, the 17th-century Austrian church where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was baptized.

Joining the parish choir, the Liturgical Choir sang at the German-language Mass. Junior Lara Dulin said the Cathedral, with its large interior and high choir loft, was her favorite church of the trip to come. 

I found this one to be the prettiest for its simplicity and many windows with natural light shining in,” she said.

The performance at the monastery was the first stop of the choir’s spring  break tour through Central Europe, a trip which took them from the picturesque town of Salzburg to a nearby abbey to the country’s capital, Vienna, to the Czech capital of Prague.

The choir has toured internationally since 1995, and this year 53 of the choir’s 70 members made the trip, tour director Ned Vogel said.

Vogel said he worked with a travel agency that specializes in trips for religious choirs, which organized performances at the abbey, Salzburg Cathedral and two churches each in Vienna and Prague.

The performances ranged in type and length: at the Benedictine Melk Abbey in Austria, the choir performed a 20-minute concert for a small community of monks, while at the historic Church of Our Lady before Tyn in Prague, it gave an hour-long public concert, Vogel said.

The choir’s normal repertoire — the songs it sings at Sunday morning Basilica masses — ranges from Renaissance to contemporary songs, and choir president Eric Thompson said the tour performances consisted mainly of those pieces. But the change of venues helped bring some of the pieces to life.

“Many of the composers that are important to our choir’s repertoire lived in these cities for much of their lives,” he said.

In between the performances was time for sightseeing. Thompson said some choir members went to the Vienna State Opera and the city’s Easter markets, while Vogel said members visited the Nonnberg Abbey in Salzburg, which famously housed Maria von Trapp of “The Sound of Music” fame.

“Our director, Dr. Andrew McShane, makes a good effort to balance performances and practices with free time to explore,” Thompson, who has been on four choir tours, said. “One of the best things about this trip is that we had more time for sightseeing than on some of our previous tours.”

Dulin, who traveled to Europe for the first time with the choir, said she enjoyed the guided tours of each city, which were “overloaded with so much incredible history,” but that the places where they performed were a form of sightseeing themselves.

Traveling to Salzburg and Vienna as a choir is kind of  like traveling to the cradle of civilization,” Dulin said. “We sang at so many beautiful churches, many of which were historic cathedrals in the centers of these old cities. We got to see some beautiful examples of Baroque and Gothic architecture, some of which dated back to as early as the eighth century.”

Vogel said choir members got to know each other as well as the cities they visited.

“My favorite part of the trip was getting to know people in the choir that I didn’t know very well beforehand,” Vogel said. “I made some really great new friends thanks to this tour.”

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About Emily McConville

Emily McConville is a news writer and photographer for the Observer. She is a senior studying history and Italian with a minor in journalism. She is from Louisville, KY and lives off-campus.

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