SHU Choir Takes Voices Across Borders

Over winter break, the Choral Program hosted a trip to Mexico where they performed in three sold-out houses. The tour spanned nine days, from Jan. 3 to Jan. 11, during which they traveled to several Mexican cities, exploring its rich history and culture.

Dr. Christopher Grundy, Director of the Choral Program, began planning this trip a year ago after inspiration from a program he introduced to the ensemble 4 Heart Harmony.

“Initially it was because we were planning this program with 4 Heart in the fall where half the program was Mexican Choral music, mostly composed during the Baroque period in the city of Puebla which was the biggest colonial city of New Spain,” said Grundy. “And so, it got me interested in the city and I started researching all of the amazing things about Mexico and several students seemed really interested.”

The group performed their repertoire for local audiences in several cities. Their concerts were held in Parroquia de San Lorenzo Diácono y Martir in Mexico City, San Pedro Museo de Arte in Puebla and Centro Cultural San Pablo in Oaxaca.

“The audiences were all incredibly supportive. Each one asked for an encore,” said junior Joe Dunn.

“They were saying how impressed they were with our musicality. They just loved the music, and you can see it on their faces without them even saying it,” said senior and President of the Choral Program, Arianna Visconti.

A crowd favorite was the African American Spiritual song “Mary Had A Baby” by William Dawson, which included a soprano solo by junior Sydney Rountree.

The program was heavily influenced by student input, with Grundy making several revisions due to their requests.

When not performing, the group traveled to several unique attractions like the Frida Kahlo Museum, which is where the famed artist grew up and lived, including her studio.

“We all got to go to the Frida Kahlo Museum which was beautiful and an amazing place to go for anyone interested in art and the incredible life she led,” said Dunn.

The group also journeyed through the large pyramids in San Juan Teotihuacán, an ancient city outside of Mexico City.

They embraced the culture by walking through the food and artisanal markets in Oaxaca and Puebla, where students purchased various homemade items such as clothing and jewelry.

While the students explored the cities in their own groups, they often came together for meals even on days that were not required.

“I really valued that as a whole because I would be doing my own thing with my friends but then I got to hear the cool and fun experiences the others got to do and see,” said Visconti.

Visconti was ecstatic to see an opportunity like this come about as it had been promised when she auditioned and enrolled in the Choral Program, but it was impacted by the rise of COVID-19 and directorial changes in the department.

“People should take advantage of these trips, these are experiences that you will never get again because playing music in a country whether they speak the language or not is a gift that is really hard to share,” said Visconti.

The Choral Program has a tour in Dingle, Ireland planned for the upcoming spring break from March 3 to March 10.

“I haven’t announced any tour destinations for next year because they are still under preliminary planning, but we are going somewhere really cool, and people who are interested in choir and traveling should look at the choir,” said Grundy.

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