UConn choirs mark return from Europe with final concert

The UConn student choir performed gospel, folk and contemporary music in von der Mehden Recital Hall on Tuesday, March 22, 2016. (Daily Campus/Zhelun Lang)

The University of Connecticut’s top student choir groups marked their returned from the 2016 Europe Tour with a polished performance of gospel, folk and contemporary music in von der Mehden Recital Hall Tuesday night.

The UConn Collegium Musicum, Chamber Singers and Concert Choir’s week long Europe Tour featured stops throughout Ireland and Germany from March 11 to 19. Highlights of the tour included singing at Trinity Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland, a joint performance with the University College Dublin UCD Choral Scholars and working with the Kammerchor of the Hochschule für Muzik in Mannheim, Germany.

This was the first time the UConn choirs have performed in Europe since 1979.

In an evening mainly devoted to cathedral worthy hymns, including “Exsultate Deo” and “Sing Joyfully,” the UConn Chamber Singers stood out for their colorful renditions of “Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine” by Eric Whitacre and “Horizons” by Peter Lousi van Dijk. Written originally for the King’s Singers of Britain in 1995, the song tells the story of a cave painting found in Western Cape, South Africa.

The painting, thought to have been created by the San tribe, depicts a European ship as an otherworldly source of good fortune.

“The people painting the cave picture were seeing them as saviors and in the end the people who came on the ship killed them, but again that is our world,” Jamie Spillane, director of Choral Studies at UConn, told the audience before conducting the piece.

Toward the end of the night, the UConn Collegium Musicum and Chamber Singers along with the Concert Choir, encircled the auditorium to envelope the audience in not one, but two renditions of “Alleluia” by Randall Thompson and Jake Runestad, respectively.

Eric Rice, head of UConn’s Music Department, said that performing abroad gave students the opportunity to work with international choirs in the historic spaces choral music was originally written for.

Scotty Duvale, a second-semester music major who participated in the 2016 Europe Tour, said that singing in the 900-year-old Speyer Cathedral in Germany gave the choir a deeper connection to their music.

“The echo rang for 12 seconds, that was how spacious and resonant and full of reverberation the space was and we were blown away by it,” Duvale said. “It kind of makes the music come alive.” 

For Alyssa Venora, a sixth-semester music education major, singing in Germany and Ireland served as a much needed reminder that music is about more than passing classes and getting a degree.

“It kind of reaffirmed my love for what I’m doing. Here, everything is very academic,” Venora said. “We all just kind of had this realization that ‘oh, right, this is why we do what we’re doing.” 

The post concert reception was hosted by band societies Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma.


Kimberly Armstrong is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at kimberly.armstrong@uconn.edu.