2011 Sound of America Highlights
The 35th consecutive year of the Sound of America's Musical Tour to Europe was one of the best ever! Audiences everywhere enjoyed wonderfully perfected music performed by students representing 42 different states. Under the direction of Clyde Barr and Randy Yoder, the152 member ensemble were received by enthusiastic audiences throughout their 23-day voyage. This year, Ms. Ali Allerton, veteran accompanist and choreographer, with her Master's of Music from Eastman also served as assistant director and conducted several choral pieces, earning much respect from the students and audiences alike.
Many concerts were at full capacity, include the two at Elizabethtown College, where in attendance were alumni not just from recent years, but from as far back as 1984, 1986, 1991, and others. Even in Europe, former SOA alumni attended concerts in Rothenburg, Venice and Paris.
As always, the audiences were fabulous and intently listened to the music being performed on stage. Reactions from audience members showed how much they enjoyed the choreography in the choir's 80's Medley, the men's "Johnny Schmoker" and women's "I Will Follow Him". The band came together and nailed technical pieces like "Italian in Algiers" and the exciting "Hymn of the Highlands", while audience members smiled as they clapped to the rhythm of the "Radetsky Marsch". Encores were insisted upon by various audiences and standing ovations were a common occurrence. The combined band & choral part of the concert included a beautiful arrangement of the famous hymn, "All Creatures of our God and King" and traditional pieces such as the "Battle Hymn" and "Stars and Stripes Forever".
The SOA students bonded so well together. As is expected, the group became a big family, despite most students' skepticism at the beginning. This was a wonderful group of young adults representing the United States in a very respectable manner. This year, students on tour had some previous connections with SOA - one student's mother toured with SOA years ago; and several students' directors had toured with SOA in the past. One tour member's mother, and grandparents had previously toured with SOA.
The tour went smoothly, with mostly great weather, and lots of fun times. Although the conversion rate of the dollar to the euro wasn't too favorable, the students managed to have the times of their lives! They found themselves exploring a medieval town's ramparts, visiting fairy-tale castles, historic cities, skating on the Olympic ice rinks, hiking in the spectacular Alps and the Dolomites (seeing snow in July), taking gondola rides in Venetian Canals, as well as visiting famous artful places like the Paris Opera and the Palace of Versailles, and art museums like the Louvre (Mona Lisa) and the Musee d'Orsay (Monet, Van Gogh). The students made every minute of the tour count! But, the focus was on the performances, and SOA is so grateful to have such great concert hall possibilities, so that the level of music performed could be well heard and understood. All the concert halls offered something - either modern large auditoriums with wooden acoustical interiors, or red velvet seating; intimate European folk style, grand cathedral and church settings, as well as an outdoor setting surrounded by quaint buildings that are more than 400 years old. The students found time to explore and visit educational sites as well as have fun enjoying swimming, hiking, dancing at the Hard Rock Cafe, or trying new cuisines at local cafes. The only thing the students would have liked to do, and couldn't find the time or place, was to watch the new Harry Potter movie that opened in July. But that is one thing they could do at home.
We thank the students and chaperones for one of the best SOA years ever! They knew their music before they arrived and put their hearts into each concert performance. We would also like to thank all the students who also helped out with "crew", helping to set up at each concert.
Click to see the slide show of the 2011 tour.
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