Choir and Orchesis Visit Italy over Spring Break

Savanna Winiecki, Staff Writer

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During Spring Break, choir and Orchesis traveled together to Italy. This group was comprised of 57 students and nine adults: seven parent chaperones and two faculty members, choir director Dr. Jeff Brown and Orchesis director and dance teacher Mrs. Eryn Brown.

This was the third time where Orchesis accompanied choir on their biennial trip. In the past, LHS has traveled to Austria, England, France, Spain and other European countries.

Over the course of their trip, they visited La Spezia, Cinque Terre, Florence, Montecatini, Perugia and Rome. Choir and Orchesis performed at some historic venues, including St. Mark’s English Church in Florence, Sala dei Notari in Perugia and Santa Maria la Maggiore in Rome.

“We do it to make lasting memories for the students. Both for the arts and with their peers and to connect to a different culture as well,” said Mrs. Brown. “They all performed while they were there, so they all had to rehearse, prepare and refine their art form and then they presented it in front of the European audiences, so it enhances what they do back at LHS.”

Mrs. Brown thought this trip helped the dancers and singers appreciate their art form, being in Europe with beautiful inspiring settings that had immense history. Orchesis attended an Italian folk dance workshop. Mrs. Brown expressed how performing American-style dances for European cultures helped them connect with different cultures and learn similarities and differences.

“[The folk dance] is native to their culture, so that was really interesting and I learned a different type of dance that I would’ve never thought that I would learn,” sophomore Audrey Black, an Orchesis member, described the impact of the folk dance workshop.

This trip provided many beneficial experiences for the students, especially friendship. New friendships were formed during this trip, and Dr. Brown saw this as an important aspect of their journey.

“There are kids now that went on our tour who are in choir who didn’t know each other at all at school… We sang together, we ate dinner together and they were able to make some bonds with other people in the school that did the same thing as they do,” expressed Dr. Brown.

General audiences in Italy came to the venues when choir and Orchesis performed. Their tour company talked to local hosts to get the word out, put up posters outside buildings and placed ads in local newspapers.

When the two groups performed in Perugia, they were part of the opening night of a two-week musical festival at Sala dei Notari.

Performing was only one aspect of the trip. Throughout, choir and Orchesis would sightsee, hike and travel. One evening, their tour guide was even able to rent out a dance club for a private disco with a DJ.

“The most memorable part of the trip for me was the day we visited Cinque Terre: five villages built into mountains overlooking the Ligurian Sea. I’ve seen pictures and getting to see it in real life was amazing,” said sophomore choir member Annika Larson over email. “We went on a hike from one village to another, and even though it poured, it was still my favorite part of the trip.”

Dr. Brown’s favorite part of the trip was during the nightly dinners where everyone was together. Junior choir member Bryce Parker would give a speech every night, and on the last night, he started singing one of their songs, getting the entire restaurant up on their feet and joining in.

As for Mrs. Brown, she said, “A personal [favorite] for me was the final song we sang before the encore, ‘The Blessing,’ where the dancers were actually doing a sign language interpretation to the song the choir was singing, so getting to collaborate. But seeing the dancers and singers come together, that was really cool.”