‘Bon Voyage’

Whitworth Choir performs concert downtown before leaving on Norway tour

by Claire Hunter

Since the scholastic calendar is rapidly approaching its end, students are finding themselves committing to more events than their time and grades can handle. Art exhibitions are on display, sports teams are playing their end-of-season games, and theater students are performing their senior projects.

For Whitworth Choir members, however, the pressure is even greater as they prepare for their finale concert, “Bon Voyage,” on May 4 at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox. They are also equipping themselves for their transatlantic tour in Norway, which begins May 20.

The May 4 concert will feature a wide array of choral pieces starting at 8 p.m. A motet by J. S. Bach in German, “Shepherd Girl’s Sunday” by Ole Bull sung in Norwegian, and early American songs are all on the roster, which was carefully pieced together by Whitworth Choir director and music professor Marc A. Hafso.

“One of the features of this program is that it contains music for everyone,” Hafso said. “It represents a breadth and depth of the choral repertoire and the range of the choir in terms of their ability to sing music from a variety of musical periods, styles and cultures.”

Connor Jacobson, choir president and a senior at Whitworth, said that although the pieces chosen are very different from one another, they are complementary and will contribute to the audience’s enjoyment of the performance.

“Marc is exceptional at planning out programs that don’t just have one thing,” Jacobson said. “Everyone will come out with a different favorite piece. That’s what I love; it’s like a jigsaw puzzle that fits together beautifully.”

Choir member Kristen Corwin, a senior, said she is excited to show her friends and family the result of a semester’s hard work.

“We have an hour and a half to show everyone what we’ve been working on for a whole semester,” Corwin said. “I just hope people will realize that this is an important event to go to.”

Hafso also said the choir is dedicated to preparing for their concert.

“This choir meets every day for 55 minutes,” Hafso said, “And to keep the experience fresh and alive is a challenge, but one that the students have met beautifully. I’m excited for the audience, and what they can experience from the student’s hard work.”

Junior Aimee Eshoff, a choir member, said most of the concert music overlaps with the upcoming Norway tour’s program. She said that the task of mastering the choral pieces is what contributed to the the choir’s diligent preparation for both events. However, the choir is committed to more than just retention of the songs.

“It’s not just about memorizing the music,” Eshoff said. “It’s really about putting your heart in it and finding how you can reach people. Something that’s really important for me is just to come to a place where it’s more personal than just a song.”

After the choir performs at the Fox, and then later at Whitworth’s graduation ceremony, the choir’s 45 students will prepare themselves for their trip to Norway. The Whitworth Choir’s previous international tour was to Argentina and Uruguay in 2009, and the choir will continue to tour internationally every four years.

The tour will consist of scheduled performances, but for the majority of the trip the choir will be able to discover Norway during personal free time. The most notable tour destinations are Oslo Cathedral, Stavanger Cathedral — a cathedral from the 12th century — and Egersund Church, a 17th century church that is located in Hafso’s ancestral town.

“I think the music that we have in our repertoire will really emote the beauty of Norway, like the North Sea and the fjords,” choir member and sophomore Cole Peterson said. “It’s all going to come together really well in Norway. I can’t wait.”

Hafso said one reason Norway was picked as the tour’s destination (besides his familial connections) was because of Scandinavia’s rich choral heritage and expertise. He said he also wanted variety for the students’ travel experience.

Hafso said he has tried to choose tour destinations that the students might not travel to on their own. “[Someplace that] in a group setting and a performance related tour, would then be very attractive for them,” Hafso said.

Besides sightseeing and performing in historic places, one of the most anticipated aspects of the tour is the chance for choir members to bond on a deeper level.

“There’s so much camaraderie it’s going to be a great time,” Eshoff said. She said she is looking forward to getting to know her fellow choir members while experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

Jacobson agreed with Eshoff that the relational aspect of traveling to Norway is important.

“I’m excited to be able to be in a different place, where all of your comforts [of home] are gone, you’re vulnerable and you’re traveling with these people,” Jacobson said. “The relationships that you make when you do that are so rich.”

The concert will be downtown at the Fox (1001 W. Sprague Ave.) May 4 at 8 p.m. Cost is $5 for students, seniors and children. General admission is $7.

Contact Claire Hunter at chunter15@my.whitworth.edu

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