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SMC choir tour highlights International Women’s Day

| Tuesday, March 19, 2019

As the sun went down on Monday, the Saint Mary’s Women’s Choir was just arriving back on campus. After touring throughout spring break and performing in four states including Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York, the choir arrived back to campus and will perform their last show at the Church of Loretto this Friday. 

Though the trip culminated in a performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City on Sunday, the choir’s stops along the way were also influential and beneficial, choir conductor Nancy Menk said.

“I loved singing in some of the great acoustic spaces along the way,” Menk said. “I loved how receptive and excited the students were when we sang at Beaumont School [in Cleveland].” 

To some students, the tour had a lot to do with legacy — not only the legacies of the alumni they performed with, but also the places that they visited and performed at along the way.

“Going to Cleveland and seeing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was just so exciting,” sophomore Grace Grueninger said. “All of the musical legends that contributed to the world of music and seeing all the artifacts from the different eras was really a lot of fun. … Singing at Carnegie Hall is such an experience when you think of everyone who was there. All of those names, you cannot even fathom who stood and sang on that stage.”

As the tour drew to a close in New York City, members of the choir were able to experience and enjoy the surroundings, including the opportunity to perform at the renowned Carnegie Hall. The concert honored women simultaneously through the 175 years of Saint Mary’s celebration and through Carnegie’s Hall’s concert series Distinguished Concerts Orchestra and Distinguished Concerts Singers International. The SMC choir performed at the ‘Magnificat: A Musical Celebration of International Women’s Day.’ According to an email sent by the College, the concert featured around 250 individual female voices from around the world.

Menk conducted the large scale concert and enjoyed connecting the current choir members with their predecessors.  

“I was thrilled with the success of our Carnegie Hall concert,” Menk said. “One of the highlights for me was seeing the 64 Women’s Choir alums who came back to sing in the Alumni Choir or brought their own women’s choir to be a part of it.” 

The experience of singing with alumni was also beneficial for the students.

“It was a lot of fun to hear all of these musicians come together, … all of these female musicians,” Grueninger said.

The choir traveled to and from performances by bus, allowing them time to connect with one another as well.

“My favorite part was growing closer with everyone and making new friends,” first-year Mollie Gniadek said.

The concert not only connected students with each other and Saint Mary’s alumni, but also with female singers from across North America.

“Creating this global sisterhood of people who worked with Saint Mary’s, … The sisterhood is worldwide, even Canada,” Grueninger said.

The appeal of participating in such an event extends beyond connecting with people to performing in the venue itself. The students also benefited from “singing in such a prestigious venue,” which first-year Liv Gren cited was her favorite part of the trip.

“For me, the best part was New York,” junior Mary Trainor said. “I loved exploring and going on adventures in New York, and singing at Carnegie Hall was an incredible experience.”

The choir’s tour and musical performance at Carnegie Hall allowed the students to be inspired by alumni, venues, professors and each other.

“It is really inspiring to work with these really talented people around me,” Grueninger said. “Aspiring to be more than I was, I was watching Dr. Menk conduct a choir of 200 women and also an orchestra and working with the sweetest people at Saint Mary’s, stepping up to their level and making friends.”

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