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By Madelyn Montgomery

They say that home is where the heart is, but when you leave pieces of your heart all over the world, you learn that it’s possible to have more than one home. The Reinhardt Chamber Singers left a piece of our heart in Italy as we were overcome with sheer joy that came with the beautiful, ancient architecture, the lovely people and the family-like bond that was formed between the choir over the course of the trip.

“Going to Italy meant creating closer relationships between me and my friends, my religion and the world’s cultures while sharing the unique experience of exploring a new land together,” said rising junior Vocal Performance and Music Education major Jaime Mandujano.

The choir was able to experience the cities of Rome, Assisi, Montecatini, Florence, and Venice through walking tours and free time, but the true magic was found in the chance to share music with another country and bridging the gap between cultures. This came in many forms, including collaborating for a concert with a community choir from Rome, working with one of the organists of the Vatican, performing in St. Peter’s Basilica, and even putting on an impromptu concert in the streets of Rome at the demand of passersby.

One of our highlights of the trip was joining forces and singing our hearts out as we got to work with one of the Vatican’s organists, Fabio Avolio, on the Renaissance repertoire that we spent all year studying. We sat in a 500-year-old Roman Catholic church, and learned the history of our repertoire, while putting emphasis on the text and the importance of phrasing and movement within the pieces. The language barrier between us and Mr. Avolio was diminished as we were able to communicate through the power of music and thus become more intelligent musicians.

Following this workshop, the primary reason for our trip to Italy had arrived. We were beaming with excitement as we walked into the splendor that is St. Peter’s Basilica. With the words of one of our prepared pieces, “Tu es Petrus,” inscribed on the dome of the basilica, it began to set in as to what we were about to do. The experience of singing in High Mass was moving and surreal, and the conclusion of our participation in Mass was bittersweet as the most highly anticipated portion of our trip had come to an end.

“Our trip to Italy this May was an experience of a lifetime,” said rising junior Music Education major,
Alan Stein. “I love that I got to grow closer to the choir and it was overall life changing.”

Musicians put many hours of practice into their art for the sole purpose of sharing their music and hopefully changing lives. It gives them no greater joy than to do so with friends that are more like family, and receiving a positive response – which included standing ovations time and time again — from audience members. This was the theme of the adventure and with achy feet and weary bodies, we sang with passion and precision. Some concerts ended with laughs and gracious chats with Italian locals, and other concerts ended with choir members holding hands, tears of joy, gratitude and love for one another.

“Every moment of this trip was magical. The music the singers made was astonishing, and they truly proved themselves to be world class in every respect. Thank you to the donors, administrators, staff and families that made this trip possible. You changed our lives forever,” said Dr. Martha Shaw, professor of music and director of choral activities.

As college students, we were all acutely aware that this life-changing trip would not have been possible without those who gave of their hard-earned money, but also those who invested in us as people as we were pushed to be better musicians, harder workers and kinder members of society. We may come from a small university in Waleska, Georgia, but Reinhardt continues to do big things, and the Chamber Singers are proud to be a part of this growing school by the four-way stop.

Madelyn Montgomery is a rising senior working toward her degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. She is spending her summer as an intern with Reinhardt University’s Office of Marketing & Communications.