The Universal Language

Morganne Ramsey

By Morganne Ramsey

Wearing “Justin Carr Wants World-Peace” shirts, the Chamber Singers and Wolverine Chorus landed in Budapest after an airplane ride that was more than 12 hours long for their tour of Bulgaria, Austria and Hungary.
The tour spanned three countries and six performances in the cities of Budapest, Eisenstadt, Vienna, Sofia and Plovdiv.
In two of the performances, students sang with local choirs — in Szentendre, they performed in a joint festival with a Bulgarian choir and the choir also held a concert with the Sofia Boys Choir at the National Conservatory of Music.
Before their concert with the Sofia Boys Choir, the two choirs had a mixer, where they were able to talk and, according to Chamber Singer Alex Berman ’14, got to know each other pretty well.
“We were really able to connect with them because, as [Rodger] Guerrero said, music is the universal language,” Berman said, “It was really easy to connect with them on that level.”
A performance at the Bulgarian National Hall in Sofia, was televised on Bulgarian national television and was played on the radio as well.
“That was our best performance,” Berman said, “We nailed every song.”
Berman said that singing in Europe was a completely different experience than their performing at school, or even the concert they did for Upper School Choir Director Rodger Guerrero’s doctoral recital.
“We were introducing music to a new audience,” Berman said. “Their reactions were really amazing. The Bulgarians loved it when we sang in Bulgarian.”
The choir spent most of the year preparing for the trip as they had learned most of the material for previous shows.
In their concerts, the Chamber Singers sang a variety of different songs, from “Liebes Lieber,” by Johann Braun, which is in German, to the spiritual “This Little Light of Mine.”
“This Little Light of Mine” was supposed to feature a solo by Justin Carr ’14 and Guerrero sang the solo instead. Berman said that it felt “uneasy” to sing without Carr. They wore pins in his honor.
“When we sang “This Little Light of Mine,” our pins were glowing,” Berman said, “We could feel his presence.”
In addition to the Chamber Singers, the concerts also featured performances by the Wolverine Chorus, the Jazz Singers, and a combined ensemble composed of Wolverine Chorus and the Chamber Men’s Chorus.
Although they spent large amounts of their time either performing or taking a bus from one city to the next, students also had free time to explore the different cities.
“It was really interesting to see the contrast in the architecture,” Berman said. “There’s a Starbucks on the corner and next to it there’s a building from 1800.”
During their free time, students went on guided tours, shopped and visited sites like Hayden Concert Hall in Eisenstadt and Schrönbrunn Palace in Vienna.
Berman said that the tour provided her the opportunity to get closer to her fellow Chamber Singers and also get to know the singers in Wolverine Chorus as well.
“We had already bonded over Chamber retreat, but it was really cool being in another country together,” Berman said.