CU Chorale Trip Takes Students to Sunny Florida
by Bailey Linton (B.A. ’19)
Dr. Kent Walters, professor of music and director of choral studies, recently traveled with the University Chorale to Florida and Georgia. For Walters, this year's trip marks his third Chorale tour to Florida.
From Feb. 28 to March 11, the University Chorale traveled to many different venues and locations such as St. Simon's Island, Ga., performing up to two programs per day. In addition, students had opportunities to sightsee, shop and relax at the beach.
Housed by host families each night of the trip, students were exposed to different people and communities. Walters noted that the reception from these host families was incredibly positive and provided a way for CU Chorale members to put their best foot forward and extend the grace of Christ.
"Every morning, host families would say to me, 'Your students are so polite; your students are so appreciative. They have represented your university well,'" Walters recalled.
Rather than choosing an overarching theme for the concerts, song choices instead communicated the juxtaposition between two extremes in faith: pain and promise, terror and trust, horror and hope. The program included "Lamentations of Jeremiah" by Randall Stroope, followed by a piece on the hopeful lyrics of Psalm 121 called "I Will Lift Mine Eyes" by Jake Runestad. The ensemble also sang a selection entitled "Great God Almighty!" with "Sweet Rivers" to show the full spectrum of Christian pain and hope.
Thirty-five students experienced this year's trip and become closer as a "Chorale family" as the students and Walters calls it.
"We don't just call ourselves a family," Walters said. "To be a family, you have to live and perform with each other, experience situations together and then you begin to come close and realize that there is a familial nature to our relationship."
The choir always spends 30 minutes together in prayer before each concert. After this, they go on stage to make beautiful music together, feeling more like a unit than separate parts.
"My favorite part of our spring break tour was after our second concert," senior Omer Usmani shared while reflecting on how God worked on this particular Chorale trip. "We prayed in our pre-concert prayer time that God would bless the audience, and He did. The audience was in tears they loved the music so much. Some said it was the best choral performance they had been to in their entire life. I knew we could trust God was working through this tour, and before we knew it, He was working in us.
"Dr. Walters creates an atmosphere of excellence and professionalism that removes all distractions and invites us into a space mentally and spiritually where God can speak through us and our art, resulting in the audience receiving the same invitation to be moved by the Spirit. Dr. Walters has a way with music I've yet to experience with another director, and many came up to me after concerts on tour to tell me the same. He spends time with us in every rehearsal not just going over what to sing and how to sing it but what each and every line in each piece means historically, contextually and poetically. He is an inspiration to me and all the other members of the choir and is personally one of the most consistent encouragements spiritually here at Cornerstone."
The Music Division hopes to continue blessing both students and listeners with its ministry of music and excellent opportunities going forward. The next Chorale trip is planned for Asia: Hong Kong, Singapore and Mongolia.
To support the University Chorale and the group's upcoming tour to Asia in 2020, visit the Chorale Tour web page.