Over Spring Break, the Alma College Choir spent time doing a series of concerts through out Florida. They traveled to various cities and churches to perform their program under the direction of Dr. Will Nichols and accompanied by pianist Anthony Patterson.
The tour started on Feb. 21 in the Heritage Center where they performed their setlist for campus before departing on Saturday. Their final performance was at Universal Studios on Mar. 1 before returning to Michigan the next day.
On Feb. 24, the choir sang in Naples beginning. They then traveled Marco Island, Fort Myers Beach, Dunedin, Lakeland, and Orlando. Up until the final location they performed at local Presbyterian churches.
“It was definitely different than singing at churches like we are used to but it was a fun experience” says Caroline Smerdon (‘20) discussing what it was like to sing at Universal. Alma College Choir alumni came to these performances in order to support the ensemble.
“My favorite…. had to be this town called Dunedin which is like a Scottish heritage town in Florida,” says Hannah Tardiff (‘19), explaining that it was her favorite audience to perform for. The church even decorated with the tartan.
Smerdon enjoyed Lakeland the most of all the locations. She explained that it was the last full performance on the trip for the seniors, giving it some sentimental value. Tardiff says that she will miss seeing everyone everyday and that it will not be the same.
While in their evenings were spent performing, they had some free time during the days when they were not traveling. When given the chance some would go to the beach. As a group, they stopped and visited the Everglades and a flea market.
At night, the choir would stay at home stays, which were one of Tardiff’s favorite parts. She explained that they were usually older couples but that everyone was extremely nice to them when they stayed. She enjoyed being able to talk to them and get to hear the things they have done, especially with groups like their church choirs.
It has been a longstanding tradition for the choir to tour. In past years, they have performed along the East Coast and then the Mid-West. Traveling for the choir is not limited to the states. In May 2018, they traveled to Scotland and in May of 2020 they will be traveling to Ireland for a two week tour. Sam Lindeman (‘20), called the previous international tour “a once in a lifetime opportunity” and is looking forward to potentially going to Ireland.
This year’s program included a diverse group of songs starting with “Assurance” arranged by John Ness Beck and finishing with “Highland Cathedral” arranged by Nichols and Patterson. They also performed “Song of Democracy” composed by Howard Hanson which contained works of Walt Whitman. “Supermarket Flowers”, performed by Ed Sheeran, added to the wide variety of songs they performed.
The choir is mainly made up of sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have had the opportunity to sing in other groups on campus first. As Tardiff explained, there are a lot of students with different backgrounds and majors as well ranging from music to economics to history to math.
Students seem to agree that one of the best parts, besides the travel, is getting to know the others on those trips. Traveling gives them the chance to get to know people better that they might not have otherwise. Tardiff says that even though they can sometimes get sick of each other, which was not as much of an issue this year, it is a great chance for bonding.