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Choral Union sings free concert before touring Europe

Post by Rosemary Ponnekanti / The News Tribune on June 27, 2008 at 12:00 pm with 1 Comment »
June 27, 2008 12:00 pm

Choral Union in Queen’s College, Cambridge, on their previous European tour. The choir sings Saturday at Lagerquist Hall. Photo: courtesy Choral Union.

Free show for Choral Union and then it’s off to Europe

It’s taken two years of fundraising and nearly three years of planning. It involves 45 singers and four countries. It’s the third European tour by local choir Choral Union, from July 2-16. But in case you can’t make it to the Prague or Dubrovnik concerts, the choir’s performing its tour concert at Pacific Lutheran University Saturday night, for free.

"Tours give the singers a different experience that they can’t get any other way," says director Dr. Richard Nance. "They go to places they may not otherwise go to. Plus we get to share what we do, culturally and musically. We make friends. And when you tour together, you grow musically because of the repetition, and as a group of individuals. You bond more."

But tour logistics aren’t easy. Nance goes through a tour operator, but also has to rely on his own contacts for setting up concerts. He’s also learned the hard way what not to do on a tour.

"Our first tour in 2002, we sang at the World Harp Congress in Geneva," says Nance, who’d written a piece for choir, harp, percussion and timpani. For the rest of the tour, "we had to haul these instruments everywhere we went, in a freight car behind the bus."

This year, the tour music is all a cappella. "It’s just easier," says Nance.

So what do you sing when you take an American choir to Europe? Well, American music, mostly: The program tomorrow night will include contemporary composers like

Eric Whitacre, as well as folk songs and spirituals. But the repertoire also includes unusual European works: motets by Basque and Norwegian composers, and a Lithuanian mass to be sung at the Dominican monastery at Dubrovnik. Performances also include collaborations with local choirs. The itinerary includes the Czech Republic, Germany, Slovenia and Croatia.

Other Tacoma choirs tour Europe, of course. But it’s still a special thing, says Nance, to sing in venues like Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, or Queen’s College, Cambridge.

"It’s life changing," Nance says. "These tours have provided my singers with the chance to stand in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna and sing where Joseph Haydn once stood. We don’t have buildings like that in our country!"

The 8 p.m. is in Lagerquist Hall at Pacific Lutheran University, 12180 Park Ave S., Tacoma.

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