Clemson University Singers travel to Italy for “An American Celebration of Music”

Clemson University Singers is an elite, mixed-voice ensemble of selected auditioned students across all academic majors. Each year, the choir performs several concerts in the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts, gives several off-campus concerts, and tours regionally each spring. In May, members of the CU Singers had life-changing experiences while touring and performing in Italy.

Clemson’s premier choral ensemble, CU Singers, was destined for memorable performances when they accepted an invitation to tour Italy for “An American Celebration of Music.”

Clemson University Singers

Clemson University Singers after a performance in Florence, Italy

In May, 42 students performed a selection of high renaissance music and African-American spirituals in some of Italy’s most historic venues. There were scheduled concerts at Santa Maria Sopra Minerva in Rome, Santa Maria de Ricci in Florence and Santa Maria dei Miracoli in Venice. The group also served as the choir for mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice and gave several impromptu performances in the Pantheon in Rome and other locations in Venice and Verona.

“We made music in some of the most beautiful cathedrals in Europe,” said James Quarles, a rising senior from Seneca.

While some students had traveled abroad before, others were having their passports stamped for the first time. Either way, they were able to experience musical culture that extends beyond the classroom.

“It’s an extension of the education that you get when you’re studying performing arts,” said Clemson University Singers director Justin Durham. “Things you read about and listen to in a lecture come alive.”

Brooks Center for the Performing Arts Director Mickey Harder was also along for the trip. This being her first time in Italy, not only did she marvel in having the opportunity to share the experience with the students, but witnessing their reactions to the reception of their music by overflowing crowds was thrilling.

“To hear beautiful singing in these venues was an artistic and spiritual experience that will provide a lifetime of memories for singers and audience members alike,” she said. “I think the students felt like celebrities because the audiences responded so enthusiastically everywhere they sang.”

But despite reaching celebrity status, the students were humbled.

“It was incredible to see how our music affected people,” said Patrick Munley, a rising sophomore from Simpsonville. “They were truly passionate about it. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Neither Quarles nor Munley are performing arts majors. In fact, they are majoring in political science, and like them, all but three of the choir’s singers are studying something other than performing arts. Yet love for musical performance is something they all have in common, and that’s what Harder says is great about arts education at the college level.

“To hear comments such as ‘This was a life-changing experience for me’ and ‘This has changed my perspective on everything’ is precisely what we hope for as teachers and administrators,” Harder said. “To hear so many of the other students talk about how much they love to sing and the relief that being in CU Singers provides them from other courses in their major reinforces how important the arts are for everyone at Clemson.”

Via: Clemson University