Coming to a Close- April 19

Chorale’s Dances to Life tour has officially ended! We ate breakfast at the hotel this morning, then drove over to West Linn Church for their Sunday service and our final performance of the tour. This church had many PLU grads and people who had family at PLU, so they were very familiar with our music program and school already. We were able to swap PLU stories during lunch, and hear about what some of their grads did after college. We only performed a couple songs, and Jabberwocky was not one of them, but we still got to be a little silly with their sendoff song. They gave us little instruments to use for it, and we got really into it, helping them with an exciting end to their service. The leaders at West Linn Church were very glad we that we came to help them celebrate an extended Easter holiday.

They fed us a feast. A burrito bar was set up in one corner, and a dessert table with ice cream Sundays, strawberry shortcake, and pie was in another. After this fantastic lunch, we set our course for PLU and arrived back about 3:30pm. We are now resting our voices and catching up on homework, but will be back in action Tuesday night for our homecoming concert. It is at 8pm in Lagerquist Concert Hall, and Chorale will be performing our entire set. Come on out for this final performance to hear some of the songs we’ve mentioned on the blog live, plus many more!

Finally, here are a few pictures that we wanted to share, but did not make it into previous posts. Enjoy!




Round Three – April 18


Well, we’ve reached our last full day of tour. We only performed two short sets today, and we can really feel tour coming to a close now, but our day was still packed.This morning we left the homes of our final hosts with plenty of sadness and snacks, and boarded the bus. We had about an hour to explore downtown Portland where Chorale was able to walk around, shop, and eat in the good ol’ Rose City. Some of us embraced full tourist mode and went straight to Voodoo Doughnuts and the Saturday market, while others found some fast food to eat and relaxed. 

   After lunch, Chorale headed straight to the Grotto and performed a mid-afternoon concert in the Chapel of Mary. The cathedral was beautiful and the choir looked pretty darn dapper too. The Grotto was definitely one of the most breathtaking places we have visited on this tour. Part of it is built on top of a cliff face, and the gardens and general nature around it block out the feeling of city life. It presents itself as being in a secluded spot, when in reality there are streets right next to it. This atmosphere created by the Grotto’s architecture and audience influenced us to sing some of our softer songs, so as to fit the serious and sacred serenity of the space.

   Our dedicated and inspirational tour coordinator, Shirley, treated us to dinner at Olive Garden before our evening performance. Shirley is retiring this year from PLU so this is her last tour, so she made it special for us and we had to return the favor. We presented her with a signed frame with a picture of us all, and cards from each section. Though we are sad to see her go, we know that she will enjoy the life of retirement, especially so she can have more time to tend to her garden. Without Shirley’s hard work and smarts, tours like this one would not happen, so our appreciation for her, and the appreciation she has from multiple other ensembles from PLU, is endless. We want to thank her again for all of the work she has put into our ensembles and travel, and wish her the best in her future endeavors.

We ended our night with a combined concert at Marylhurst University with the Marlyhurst Chamber Choir and PCC’s women chorus. PCC began with a set that included a favorite from the movie Pitch Perfect, which revived us from our slight breadstick-induced stupor. We were up next with a small set that included Dr. Paul’s How I Came to Be, which was special for everyone tonight. Marylhurst is actually the university at which Dr. Paul worked before PLU, so this piece of his was premiered in the very hall we performed it in tonight. Also, that was our last time performing it with him. He is headed back to PLU tonight, and the violin solo will be played by Dr. Ronning, a professor and violinist at PLU, in our homecoming concert on Tuesday. Marylhurst ended tonight’s shared concert with favorites such as O-b-La-Di, Ob-La-Da by the Beatles, and Gravedigger by Dave Matthews, both arranged for choir, and both very exciting and impressive.  

 Tonight Chorale members were able to hang out with each other more, because we are staying at a hotel. Some of us went for a swim, some socialized in the lobby, and others went out or relaxed in their rooms. Overall, one thing that we have all enjoyed about this trip is the bonding. That showed tonight; even though we were tired at the end of another long day, a few of us stayed up late into the night to talk to other members who we may not have known well or talked to much before tour. Moments like those make trips like these even more fun, because not only can you share what you love with the places you visit, but you get to share a little bit of yourself with your peers and become better friends with them.

Tomorrow we only have one performance which is at West Linn Lutheran Church, during their Sunday service. Then we will bus back to PLU and officially be done with tour. Come on out for this final performance at Sunday service if you are in the Portland area, we would love to see you there!

(Photo Credit: Nicolas Roycroft)

O Frabjous Day!


Day three was a big one! We finished all our performances for high schools, gave a surprise performance in the capitol building, and had our first collegic exchange. Most of us were very tired by the end of that, but we held it together for our church performance and sang well.

 We said goodbye to our home stays early this morning, and drove to Salem to sing a few pieces for McNary High School’s music program. The director there happened to be a huge fan of original compositions, so he loved our performance of How I Came to Be, composed by PLU’s Dr. Paul. Dr. Paul is the chair of our music department, and on tour with us performing the violin solo in his piece. The McNary director took the opportunity to ask insightful questions about Dr. Paul’s inspiration for it and his composition process, which really captured the interest of the high school students. They are no stranger to original compositions, but it was a fine opportunity to have the composer in a room with them answering questions.

    Next we went to Sprague High School, for our final high school exchange. They sang a couple impressive upbeat songs that made us fast fans of them. We ended our set with Jabberwocky, and they had the best reaction we’ve seen to that song so far. They laughed in all the right places, and reminded us of what it was like to hear that song for the first time. We are sad we don’t have any more high school choirs to hear and sing for, but singing Jabberwocky at Sprague was a great way for that part of tour to come to a close.

Lunch was fantastic; the sun was warm, we had free time, and we got to eat free pizza outside amongst the daisies growing in the lawn of the high school. A few of us even got in a few minutes of playing frisbee.

It was in the schedule for us to visit Oregon’s capitol building, but the director at Sprague suggested that we ask to sing in its lobby, so we got to give a surprise single-song performance. We were honored to have local elementary school kids in our audience, who sat on the steps and were perfectly polite listeners. The lobby was so satisfying to sing in because of its superb acoustics, and if we could have we would have spent some of our free time singing a couple more pieces there.

After that visit and a couple hours of down time, we had our final exchange of the day with Willamette University. They were fantastic, and Chorale felt that both choirs represented our respective schools very well. Part of the purpose our visit there was to watch them rehearse, so we were able to see their director’s teaching technique, as well as how the students responded and moved forward in their music.

This evening’s performance took place at St. Mark Church, just a few minutes from the capitol building and Willamette University. They treated and fed us very well, and even had coffee and tea for us at dinner. As most of us were pretty tired by that point, we appreciated that part of their generous meal for us very much. We had fun in our performance, and even though we were tired beforehand we were awake as ever during it. (Though, the coffee may have had something to do with that too).

Sadly, tonight is our last night with home stays, because tomorrow we will stay in a hotel. But on the bright side, we don’t have to be anywhere until 9:30 tomorrow morning, so we can still spend quality time with our hosts and get quality sleep tonight too!

Goodnight all!

(Photo credit: Nicolas Roycroft)

Day Two- April 16th

 Here we are on our 2nd day on tour – The Chorale students had an excellent time at their first night of homestays, and started out the day ready to sing and share our music with the community!


 We first had a choral exchange with Longview High School. Not only were they super warm and welcoming, but their choir was also pretty darn good. They had a great set including a beautiful women’s choir piece that they ended with. Then, they asked us a few questions about college, and we made sure to reassure them that it is completely possible to balance time between practice, homework, and Netflix.


 After lunch we had our second exchange with Union High School, who surprised us with a spirit tunnel to make us feel very welcome! Their choir director is an alumnus of Chorale, and their student conductor took his very first college class with our very own Professor Whitham, so they were extremely excited to see us. They are getting ready to compete in their state competition in a couple weeks, and they sang beautifully. After a wonderful exchange we had a few minutes to talk to each other individually, and we took the opportunity to complement each other’s performances.


 Our third stop was at Heritage high school where we exchanged with the students of their concert choir. Heritage is also going to state, and had a great set prepared for us. Their men’s chorus piece was especially exciting, and gave us all goosebumps. We had a great moment with this choir, because as it happens we have both learned the song Amore de mi Alma this year, so we were able to perform it together. We had another question and answer session with them, during which we were able to share with them our campus, choir, clubs, and overall college experience at PLU!


 After that we headed to Portland for our first performance in Oregon at Gethsemane Lutheran Church. The acoustics in the sanctuary were amazing! We loved performing there; the audience was super into the concert and we as a choir felt a strong connection to them. Between that and the open design of the hall that provided great acoustics, our music came alive in a special way tonight.

Following the concert we departed with our new host families to their homes for the night. Now we’re resting up for our high school exchanges in Salem, and concert at St. Mark Lutheran Church tomorrow!

We wanted to make sure we included little moments from the down time we have had between performances, so here are a few outtakes of sorts from today.

On the bus between high school exchanges:


Mini golf during our lunch break:

Giant chess during lunch break:

 And last but not least, a community nap time before our evening performance: 

(Photo Credit: Nicolas Roycroft, Jessi Marlow, Jordan Berg)

And We’re Off!


Today we officially began our 2015 tour! We left PLU around 3:45pm and were seen off by PLU’s Choir of the West. We enjoyed a peaceful bus ride to Longview Community Church, where we rolled out the programs for the first time and debuted our set. We were particularly impressed by the church itself, as the exterior looked like a castle standing in the middle of Longview.



The church treated us to a wonderful dinner before the concert, and made us feel extremely welcome the entire time we were there.


The men in Chorale got a bit of exercise when they were tasked with moving the piano up about 3 feet onto the stage.

In the end concert went well, and we were proud to hear that the community enjoyed having us there. As of now, the choir is tucked in for the night at different home stay houses, getting to know their hosts, and resting up for our exchanges with Union High School and Heritage High School tomorrow. We will be performing our full set again tomorrow night at Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Portland, so come on out if you’re in the area!

(Photo Credit: Nicolas Roycroft)