When I joined Ouachita Singers my sophomore year, I never imagined that in just a year and a half we would be hopping on a plane and flying halfway around the globe to sing in some of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world. Fortunately, sometimes opportunities arise that you could never dream of, and that is exactly how some of the Ouachita Singers spent our spring break.
I think it should be stated that I spend pretty much every spring break in Branson – and don’t get me wrong, I love B-town – but last week I got to see amazing sights such as the Trevi Fountain and the Colosseum, as well as sing in places that I never dreamed I would even see, much less perform in. I’m talking about St. Peter’s Basilica and, yes, the Sistine Chapel.
I think we all grew up seeing pictures of the Sistine Chapel in almost every history textbook we were made to read, but, for some reason, it didn’t ever seem real to me until we walked in and saw the amazing frescos covering the walls and ceilings. Over our heads was the entire story of Genesis as interpreted by Michelangelo himself, and we got to praise God in this amazing place that I thought I would only ever read about.
While singing in the Sistine Chapel has to be one of the highlights of the trip (if not my entire life), singing in all of the other breathtaking cathedrals was also completely incredible. I don’t know how these old buildings were acoustically designed, but for some reason, someone can be talking and there is a slight buzz of an echo, but as soon as anyone starts singing, some kind of magic happens and the sound completely floods the room. Voices bounce off of every wall and every antique tile, and you hear things the way you’ve never heard them before.
Suddenly whole new parts of the song come out that you hadn’t even noticed before that moment, and, even though you’ve probably sung these songs a hundred times, it’s something completely new to you. You are suddenly connected to choirs that sang in these beautiful buildings centuries ago, and you join this chorus of believers that span genres and times but maintains the same goal throughout the years – to worship God with a joyful noise unto Him, whether that be through a contemporary arrangement of “Ave Maria” or a Latin choral piece composed by Puccini.
It is said that if you throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain you will return to Rome. So while I may never again get to sing in such beautiful places with the very best of people, I may once again walk the cobblestone alleyways entwined throughout the country. So, with that being said, until next time, Italy.
Listen to this ambient audio recording of the Ouachita Singers performing Ubi Caritas (Gjeilo) and Ave Maria (Busto) in the Sistine Chapel during the 2017 Italy Tour. The recording is accompanied by a slideshow of the sites visited during the tour, created by Tanner Fritsche (’17).
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