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Nordic Choir Tour: traditions and memories

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Nordic Choir Tour: traditions and memories

Elizabeth Fischer (‘19), Aidan Spencer (‘18), and Anna Streeper (‘18) sing in the featured ensemble for “Long Time Traveller/Swing Low Sail High.”

Elizabeth Fischer (‘19), Aidan Spencer (‘18), and Anna Streeper (‘18) sing in the featured ensemble for “Long Time Traveller/Swing Low Sail High.”

Annika Vande Krol (‘19) | Photo Bureau

Elizabeth Fischer (‘19), Aidan Spencer (‘18), and Anna Streeper (‘18) sing in the featured ensemble for “Long Time Traveller/Swing Low Sail High.”

Annika Vande Krol (‘19) | Photo Bureau

Annika Vande Krol (‘19) | Photo Bureau

Elizabeth Fischer (‘19), Aidan Spencer (‘18), and Anna Streeper (‘18) sing in the featured ensemble for “Long Time Traveller/Swing Low Sail High.”

Julia Lieb, Staff Writer

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From old traditions to song premiering, Nordic Choir delivered a performance of peace and faith in their homecoming concert in the Center for Faith and Life (CFL) on Feb. 13. This concert concluded their Midwest and Colorado tour.

Nordic started with a pre-tour to Wisconsin in Jan. 27-28 and then the full tour Feb. 1-13. Throughout their tour, Nordic performed for approximatly 1,000 audience members in seven states.

All 71 members of Nordic began preparing repertoire for the concert program during fall semester; however, half of the program was introduced at the beginning of January. The ensemble then practiced five nights a week during January-Term to finalize the program.

The tour program consisted of 16 pieces and an encore. The program included “Ye Were Sometimes Darkness” by Randall Thompson, “Exultate Deo” by Hans Leo Hassler, “Hail, Gladdening Light” by Charles Wood, “Mangisondele Nkosi Yam” by Michael Barrett and “Long Time Traveller/Swing Low Sail High” by The Wailin’ Jennys.

“We started the program with traditional music and then we transitioned into a South African piece,” Nordic Choir President Aidan Spencer (‘18) said. “The first half included texts that were connected and were all in the same key. The second half included a double-choir selection and an Americana portion.”

During the homecoming concert, the audience responded with a roaring applause to The Wailin’ Jennys song, “Long Time Traveller/Swing Low Sail High.” Before their performance of this song, the choir changed formation. A large group of female singers remained on the risers and held hands, a large group of male singers stood on the floor in the aisles of the CFL, and a group of nine singers formed a semi-circle on stage with Colin Cosgrove (‘20) and Nick Vande Krol (‘18) playing guitar behind them.

“When they went up the stairs by me, it was cool to hear their sound surrounding me,” attendee Katherine Kemp (‘21) said. “I was encompassed in music.”

Attendee Devin Hanggi (‘18) was impressed with “Long Time Traveller/Swing Low Sail High and the instrumentation used during the performance.

“It was awesome to see the guitars brought out for The Wailin’ Jennys song,” Hanggi said. “You don’t see that often. It was the first live performance of Nordic Choir that I have seen. It was just fantastic.”

According to Spencer, the song was meaningful to the choir as well.

“That song was particularly dear to all of our hearts because we were premiering it as a choir,” Spencer said.

Annika Vande Krol (‘19) | Photo Bureau
Assistant Professor of Music and Nordic Choir conductor Andrew Last (‘97) conducts altos Grace Huber (‘20), Demetria Armatas (‘19), and Mayalyn Cott (‘19) during the homecoming concert.

At the end of every concert, Nordic alums join current choir members to sing Pavel Chesnokov’s “Oh Lord God.” This song has been Nordic’s signature benedictory since 1948. It is used to create a bond between generations of Nordic singers.

Not only do Nordic alums span generations, but they also involve families. Nordic soprano Abby Saner (‘20) was joined on stage by both of her parents to sing “Oh Lord God” at the homecoming concert.

The performances of this piece spark memories of past concerts and tours in the minds of Nordic alums, according to former Nordic member Joshua Vorvik (‘97).

“It was great to come back here [and sing onstage] after so many times singing as a student,” Vorvik said. “To have the song be second nature to me was rewarding. [Assistant Professor of Music and Nordic Choir conductor Andrew Last (‘97)] and I sang a couple of the songs together 20 years ago. To see Nordic all these years later and see my choir-mate conduct them was exciting.”

This is the first tour the ensemble has performed under the direction of Last. According to Coordinator for Choral Music Marketing and Tours Eric Ellingsen (‘99), each new conductor brings a new sound.

“The sound [of the choir] is definitely different, which happens any time you change conductors,” Ellingsen said. “Each conductor has their own philosophy of blend and timbre [that] affects the production and sound to the choir.”

Spencer has been in the choir for three years. Some of Spencer’s best memories from her time in the ensemble are from tours.

“Touring is my favorite time of the year,” Spencer said. “I love spending time with everyone on the bus and exploring different cities.”

While Spencer enjoys the fun of a tour, she acknowledges the hard work to run everything smoothly.

“[The domestic tour] is a wonderful tour to sing in [because there are] so many different venues, and it really challenges us to adapt our sound to a new space,” Spencer said. “[Performing] our concert over and over again allows us to hone our skills and makes us perform the music at the highest level possible.”

During the tour, choir members spent one night in a hotel, but stayed primarily with host families. According to Spencer, staying with families was a great opportunity to meet people from the communities where they performed.

According to Ellingsen, domestic tours ofen do not travel outside of the midwest.

“[The last] similar tour, geographically, [was] six years ago with my first tour as tour manager in 2012,” Ellingsen said.

Spencer was pleased with this tour and looks forward to future performance opportunities.

“I think it was a great tour and a great bunch of people, and I’m excited to do it again this summer for the international tour,” Spencer said.

Nordic will depart on a short-tour in the Twin Cities during spring break. Nordic will also travel to Germany for an international tour in May.

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