Music is a powerful force that transcends cultures, and even languages. This May 2017, the Southwestern University Singers, directed by Jonathan Wall, preached the Gospel to the world on an international tour in Germany and France. They performed eight concerts, in Augsburg and Munich, Germany, and Vincennes and Paris, France.
Dr. Scott Campbell, saxophone instructor, and Dr. Devon Howard, chair of music, performed a duet for saxophone and organ on tour with the University Singers.
“When we tour, we get to make an impact in others lives,” said Astrid Partida, 2017 nursing major. “Sometimes we don't speak the same language, but music breaks all barriers. I love that we get to become a family, learn, grow and share Christ together.”
Preparation for touring is the culmination of years of practice and training. Each year, senior-level students graduate and underclassmen rise to fill rolls of leadership. New students continue to join, making the University Singers an ever-evolving group. Upperclassmen help teach music and encourage new students to work hard as equal members of the group.
“Sharing your music with others is the culmination of the effort and time committed to learning it,” said Devon Howard, chair of music. “There are few more exciting ways to do this than on an international tour where the music transcends linguistic and cultural divides encountered. The University Singer's recent tour to France and Germany was no exception. It was an honor to be part of the joy, growth, ministry and community the students experienced not only individually, but with each other as well as the hundreds of people they performed for.”
Performing in a choir requires much more than raw vocal talent. It requires the ability to listen and blend with fellow members while conveying the meaning of text. The most successful performances take place when the Singers truly listen to each other and are able to find personal meaning in music, while following the director.
“Being able to sing in Europe allowed us to minister to a group of people who may never have heard of the Adventist church,” says Lindsey Johnson, sophomore biology major. “We sang for the American Church in Paris the last Sunday morning of tour. The director of music, who served in that church since 1972, said we were one of the most fantastic groups he’d ever invited to sing at his service.
“Afterwards, church members constantly approached us, asking questions about our music, our University, even our religion, because we were announced as ‘Southwestern Adventist University Singers.’ Our singing attracted them, but it was our testimony of our school and church that was the real ministry. We attracted all kinds of people through music. And that is our job as Christians; to go into the entire world, spreading the good news.”
In addition to performing, the Singers visited many famous landmarks and beautiful locations as tourists.
The tour began with an all-night drive to the Black Forrest, in Germany. There, the choir rested and recovered in peaceful, mountainous nature. They explored old-town Munich, as well as the English Gardens in Munich. In France, they spent time at the medieval city, Aleçon. The choir viewed Paris from the steps of the Basilica Sacre-Coeur in the arrondissement Montmartre. They explored the Louvre art museum, toured the Palace Versailles, and rested under the Eiffel Tower, where Gage Rice, 2017 music major, proposed to Erika Martinez, 2017 music major.
“Something I have learned is that traveling opens your eyes to the World, and allows you to dream of greater things in life,” said Partida.
For the final portion of the tour, Music Department faculty planned a surprise for the choir. The Singers stayed in a sixteenth century French chateau, located an hour-and-a-half outside of Paris. Each year, the Music Department faculty work hard to provide the best tour experience possible for the Southwestern University Singers.
“This trip was amazing,” said Sabra LeBlanc, sophomore nursing major. “But also, this entire year was amazing. I can't imagine what my year would have looked like without being a University Singer.”
Pictured above: The University Singers at the Château deVersailles. View more tour photos here.
Learn more about the Department of Music!