Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Day 6 of Choir Tour: Remembering our History and Delaware Bound

Waiting in line for the Ferry to Ellis Island
After an early breakfast, the group loaded up the bus, checked out of the NJ hotel, and headed to the Ferry to Ellis Island (NJ side). The weather was spectacular, and riding on the water was quite pleasant. The wobbly feeling of the boat jostling in the water, and the occasional loud horn took some students by surprise! Many took pictures of the NY skyline from the water and while a little hazy, it was still very nice. As we rounded the bend to truly take in the Statue of Liberty, many were struck by the impressive symbol of our freedom and independence. One person remarked that for those immigrants who had traveled through horrible conditions for so very long on the water, to come into the harbor and see the Statue of Liberty, it must have been an incredible sense of excitement and gratitude. The island is very small, but has several buildings on it in addition to the statue. Most of the buildings are no longer used, and some had more recent damage from Hurricane Sandy, but the processing center is still a symbol of transition/connection between our past, present, and future. We then took the ferry to Liberty Island, to see the Statue of Liberty up close.

Main Building on Ellis Island

The Registry Room - where our ancestors were documented!
She is much more impressive in person...wow!

Pictures do not do her justice...

Our international students!

Perfect PR pic for NY

Enjoying the view of the Statue of Liberty

Ellis Island is a place one could stay an entire day and still not learn everything there is to know about the immigration history of our country. The displays were very informative, explaining everything from the number of immigrants throughout various eras, where various immigrant groups settled in the United States, the history of Slavery in the U.S., the history of how Native Americans were treated (e.g. Trail of Tears, etc.), the role of music in cultural identity and how it was used (still is, by the way), for cultural groups to relate better in an environment that may feel hostile or unrelenting. Folk songs were used centuries ago by immigrants coming to this country to maintain cultural stability and continuity. Over the years, these folk songs have blended to create new song forms and music which is more indigenous to this country.

Rehearsing on the bus on way to Wilmington, DE

Conducting a piece while traveling
down the highway is an acquired skill

Following the awe-inspiring visit to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, we loaded back on to the bus and headed for Wilmington, DE, where the choir would sing their concert at the Aldersgate United Methodist Church, where a good friend of Michael Boswell, Jeffrey Manns, is conductor and tenor. The choir rehearsed in the sanctuary, maintaining their focus as workers pounded on the roof, doing work on the church. At times it sounded as though the roof might cave in with the loudness of the hammering, but the choir forged on and everyone was relieved when it finally ended 30 minutes before the 7:00 concert time! 

The church fed everyone, providing pasta, salad, and pizza, which was so wonderful after many days of eating in restaurants. There was a very "homey" feel to the church and the people who volunteered their time to provide the meal. The choir concert was lovely, with area church members in attendance, including one SMWC alum from the class of 1970! Some highlights were the opening piece which incorporates whistles and bird sounds (isn't the human voice incredible?), a set of multi-cultural folk songs (Korea, Ireland, and China represented!), a lively piece which includes pats and snaps, and a set of sacred pieces, which ended with the song "Invitation" which the choir sang in France two years ago. As they sang, their faces brightened, their bodies relaxed, and their voices filled the room. One of Jeffrey Mann's church choirs (he said there are 9 different kinds of ensembles at the church) joined the SMWC choir for two pieces (Clausen's "Set Me as a Seal" and a gospel piece) at the end of the concert. Once again, a collaborative effort led to a wonderful musical impact!

Michael Boswell conducting Chorale

Jeffrey Manns and Michael Boswell (tenors/conductors extraordinaire)

Michael Boswell conducting Madrigals

Shelby Partin, flute

The group then got back on the bus and headed for Philadelphia where they will stay one night, sightsee all day on Wednesday (apparently in rain), and then head to Washington, D.C. Wednesday night!

Tomorrow morning Dr. Anneliese Payne (SMWC faculty) and Dr. Janet Clark (Vice President of Academic Affairs) will leave the tour and head back to Indiana by plane. The SMWC Choir wish them safe travels and say thank you for joining them on the trip!

Another bus teaching moment

Mother/Daughter pic (Photo Credit: K. Boswell)

Youngest member of Choir Tour (Photo Credit: K. Boswell)

Passing time (Photo Credit: K. Boswell)

(Photo Credit: K. Boswell)

(Photo Credit: K. Boswell)

(Photo Credit: K. Boswell)
(Photo Credit: K. Boswell)

(Photo Credit: K. Boswell)

(Photo Credit: K. Boswell)

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