For Penn State students, spring break can mean many things—a beach vacation with friends, a chance to spend quality time with family, an opportunity to do some extra studying. For students in School of Music ensembles, spring break is often a time for performing on national or international tours.
During spring break 2016, the Concert Choir, under the direction of Christopher Kiver, will perform at schools and churches in Toronto; McGill University in Montreal; and a high school in Burlington, VT.
Essence of Joy, under the direction of Anthony Leach, will perform at churches throughout Pennsylvania, and in Nanjemoy, MD; Durham, NC; and Norfolk, VA. Now celebrating its 25th season, Essence of Joy performs sacred and secular music from the African/African American choral traditions.
According to Leach, touring furthers the School of Music and Penn State’s outreach efforts and exposes a wider audience to the talent that the University nurtures. “Essence of Joy’s mission is to share our musical offerings at home in support of campus events and especially off campus as we honor invitations from churches, colleges/universities, and community-based organizations and professional music societies,” he said. “For many choir members, touring provides special moments for them to strengthen relationships with other members of the choir and to interact positively with audience members who really want to know how the current generation of college students is fairing regarding current events and their vision for the future. I treasure seriously these moments of community building within and beyond the choir.”
Essence of Joy has previously performed throughout the eastern, southern and Midwestern United States and on international tours to Poland, Czech Republic, Spain, France, South Africa, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.
The Concert Choir has performed in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Great Britain and Australia. Within the United States, the choir has performed extensively throughout Pennsylvania, New England, Louisiana and the Southwest. The Concert Choir has also performed at premier venues such as Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh and the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, and at state and regional conferences of the American Choral Directors Association and Pennsylvania Music Educators Association. In June 2015, members of the choir performed with The Rolling Stones at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.
According to Leach, touring gives the students a clearer understanding of their role as goodwill ambassadors. “Our world is smaller due to technology and improved travel modes, but in the end, it is time spent with others that remains the glue of our musical and personal interaction with audiences at home and beyond.”
Photo by Bill Zimmerman