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Reinhardt University Chamber Singers plan for trip to Italy

By Erika Neldner

The Reinhardt University Chamber Singers are headed to Italy to perform in multiple venues including a Mass in the Vatican, and they are diligently raising money for their trip.

The 43 Chamber Singers need to raise $3,420 each to attend the Renaissance & Music History Tour of Italy.

 “Some of the students can work and save money, which others have someone who can help them out,” said Dr. Shaw, professor of music and choral director. “Then there are the students who just fight to have a job and school and then also to have to get ready for this. They just are in need of assistance so they can be a part of this experience. It can build them up, educate them further and allow them to one day go out and do this for someone else.”

Reinhardt President Dr. Kina S. Mallard and her husband, Steve Dietz, are planning a separate trip to accompany the students to Italy. Click here for more information.

One way the singers are fundraising is through CD sales. Thanks to a generous gift from Ken White ’61, vice chair of the Reinhardt Board of Trustees, every dollar of the $20 CD goes to the student fundraiser. “Mr. Ken White financed the production of the CD, so all of the money goes into the student accounts,” Shaw said.

In May, the Chamber Singers spent three days recording a CD, which is in final production stages. Shaw said the plan is to send the CD to press in two weeks. The students have been pre-selling CDs since the beginning of the summer.

“For a lot of us students, we haven’t left the country before. Going and singing in the Vatican is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that we probably will never receive again,” said senior Katherine Manettas, of Woodstock. “Our choir is a family, and there will be nothing better than sharing that experience with each other. I am really excited to learn about renaissance music, and it will immensely benefit my future as a choral singer.”

This trip, scheduled for May 21-May 29, 2018, will give students opportunities of a lifetime, which includes singing during a Mass service in St. Peter’s Basilica.

“Most choirs just go over there and perform,” Shaw said. “We’ve been invited by the organist at the Vatican. He invited us to learn with him.

“We have chosen this quintessential Renaissance piece of music to study with him,” Shaw added.

The students will study “Pope Marcellus Mass of Giovanni de Pasestrina” (translated: The Pope Marcellus Mass of Palestrina) with Fabio Avolio and sing it during Mass. The piece is 30 minutes long, and Shaw said it’s quite difficult, as well.

“Palestrina was the musical director (maestro di cappella) in the Vatican, and he wrote this piece for the choir at the Vatican. We are going to go sing this important choral work at the Vatican,” Shaw said.

During the trip, students will have the opportunity to perform four concerts to include what she calls “authentically American music.”

“Most foreign audiences appreciate things like folk music, spirituals and gospel music. They love hearing authentically American music,” she said. “Some of the Italian renaissance music we are preparing is for the church service.”

The seven-day trip also will include travels around Italy, sightseeing and learning about history and culture. They will visit Rome, Assisi, Montecatini, Villa Medicea, Florence and Venice.

“They will get to see some of the amazing artwork. It’s one thing to see the statue of David in a photo. It’s another thing to see it in person,” Shaw said. “They will get to see Medici family’s summer home and see where they would come in and sit for Mass.

“History becomes real when you immerse yourself in the culture,” Shaw added.

For the students, Shaw said the trip is much more than singing, learning about history and taking in the sights. A veteran in travel and chaperoning youth trips overseas, Shaw said she hopes it brings them a global awareness and knowledge of how to travel and navigate through foreign countries.

“They were surprised to learn that the money is different, the voltage is different and that they have to convert both of them. The food is not the same as they are used to here. They have to manage a different language,” Shaw said. “You get an understanding of what it’s like as an immigrant to come to American and have to deal with the language differences. It gives them compassion for people who travel and an understanding of the beautiful ceremony of the Catholic Church.

“The more we learn about each other the less intimidating the world becomes. You must roll with the punches, deal with jet lag, follow schedules, adapt to things that come along. It gives them a new sense of maturity,” Shaw said.

To learn more about how to give a tax-deductible gift, click here.

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