Chamber choir tour ‘the trip of a lifetime’

“My favorite part of trips like that is watching the people react to us singing. These are people I’ve never met that live thousands of miles away from me, but yet you see them respond to the beauty of the music. I could never have a conversation with these people because of the language barrier, yet we had a conversation through music. It truly is universal.”

Vann, a Family and Consumer Science graduate student, has felt the impact an overseas tour can have once before. She toured Italy with the Chamber Choir in 2007.

“I think traveling somewhere else changes you forever,” Vann said. “It makes you more open to the world because you see that there are so many different people.

After Italy, I came back a different person. I looked forward even more to going to France because I knew it would be another life-changing experience.”

For Jordan Bennett, the experience was a first.

“It was more educational than anything because I had never been overseas before,” Bennett said. “Just being in a completely different place and learning things about the French way of life was very interesting. I guess I just feel like I gained a lot personally from the trip just by being able to say that I have now been overseas.”

Bennett graduated from UCA in May with a master’s degree in choral conducting. He served as UCA Choral Director John Erwin’s graduate assistant for the past two years. Starting this fall, he will be the choir director for Greenbrier Junior High and High School.

“I have been involved in choir ever since the seventh grade,” Bennett said. “I don’t even know where to begin to explain what I love about it. It doesn’t matter if I have had a bad day – a choral rehearsal always has the power to move me. I can remember quite a few times when I have had some unfortunate circumstances in my life, and choir rehearsal has moved me to tears just because music has that power.

“There is something about everybody working together to create this beautiful blend of voices that can create a sense of awe. When you sing great concerts, like we did in France, you come away with a sense of pride and accomplishment. I can’t wait to go back to Europe sometime, and I hope I can take a choir of my own.”

The eight-day tour started May 11 in Orléans, spanning from Nantes to Chartres before wrapping up in Paris.

“We performed one of Jordan’s pieces in all of our concerts,” Vann said. “It’s really beautiful. He’s an extremely talented musician. This trip was his last go-round with everybody. Our last concert was very special. There’s this moment in his song that just rings out forever in those huge cathedrals. Seeing the joy on his face during that moment – his creation performed and realized – it was just great.”