Members of the EMU Chamber Singers perform at The Music Room in Orange, Virginia, on March 7. (Photo by Jon Styer/EMU)

Chamber Singers return from spring break tour

Fifteen concerts in eight days…

That’s how the 19 members of the EMU Chamber Singers spent their spring break. From March 2 to 9, they performed at venues in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia, and at high schools throughout the Shenandoah Valley. 

The theme of this year’s tour was “Chorus of Peace: Songs of Lament and Hope” and featured selections sung in languages including Sesotho (spoken in Lesotho and South Africa), German, Latin and Italian.

We asked junior Iris Anderson and senior Afton Rhodes-Lehman, members of the Chamber Singers since their first year at EMU, and junior Tyler Williams, now in his second semester with the group, to share their experiences from the tour. 

Afton Rhodes-Lehman, foreground left, and Iris Anderson, beside her, perform at The Music Room in Orange, Virginia, on March 7. (Photo by Jon Styer/EMU)

How did this tour compare to others?

Anderson: We got to go to a bunch of high schools nearby and sing for them and tell them about EMU. There were a few high schools that a member or two had attended, and so it was fun to see them interact with their high school choir director and see where they came from.

Rhodes-Lehman: On tour, you see your local community in a way you haven’t before. We were going to places I hadn’t been exposed to, like Mennonite churches I haven’t gone to, so that was exciting. 

Williams: This is actually my first spring tour with the Chamber Singers. I can’t speak for other Chamber Singers tours, but I can compare it with other choir tours I’ve been on. This tour was the most fun and one of the easiest I’ve been on, simply because of the people I was surrounded by.

EMU Chamber Singers at the Basilica of the National Shrine in Washington, D.C., on March 2. (Photos by Rachel Schrock Photography / EMU)

Did you have a favorite venue?

Anderson: It’s hard to pick a favorite. We sang in the Basilica of the National Shrine in Washington, D.C., which was a cool place to sing in because it was so big and resonant and sounds beautiful to sing there. The Music Room in Orange, Virginia, was probably one of my favorite concerts. It was a great place. Despite it being a former hardware store, it had pretty good acoustics. And, we sang with the Rapidan Orchestra.

Rhodes-Lehman: I loved singing at the high schools. There are some high schoolers I’ve worked with through EMU’s summer musical theater program, so I was excited to get to sing for them.

Williams: My favorite venue was definitely the sanctuary of First Mennonite Church in Richmond. I know a lot of others enjoyed singing at The Music Room. I, unfortunately, got sick on the tour, so I wasn’t able to sing with them there, but from what I heard, I’m extremely jealous that I missed that opportunity.

EMU Chamber Singers perform with the Rapidan Orchestra at The Music Room. (Photos by Jon Styer/EMU)

What was your favorite memory of the tour?

Anderson: I loved hanging out with the people in choir. It’s a great group of people, so it was great to spend time with them and get to know them a little better and have fun. I frequently said to my friends on the trip: “I don’t think I’ve ever laughed this much.” There was a lot of laughter and good connection. All the churches were so generous and gave us dinner. Most nights, we would perform and go home with a host family and get a little glimpse into their lives for a night, like a mini-crosscultural experience.

Rhodes-Lehman: We got to perform in front of the reflection pool on the National Mall and that was fun. We put together our own little band based on instruments that people could play. That day, we probably did at least 12 songs.

Williams: My favorite moments were probably the car rides to and from performances and high schools. That’s where I got to know everybody on a deeper level and I feel so incredibly connected to everyone in Chamber Singers because of those long commutes. I also loved getting to know my host families when we sang at churches for services and concerts.

The EMU Chamber Singers is an auditioned touring chamber choir now in its 45th year. The mixed-voice choir is made up of 19 EMU students of different ages and majors. For more information about the Chamber Singers, visit their website or find them on Instagram. (Photo by Rachel Schrock Photography / EMU)

Answers have been edited for conciseness.

Join the Discussion on “Chamber Singers return from spring break tour

  1. I am celebrating my 60th (not an error:) graduation from EMU this fall……your choir tour and comments remind me so much of the ones I was privileged to do…..I still have friends made on those trips. Thank you for sharing your music and joy.

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