By Natalie DeFord, A&E Writer

After 30-plus hours of bus riding and five performances, the Choir of the West returned from its 2014 Spring Tour Sunday night and sang in a Homecoming Concert Tuesday evening.

Senior Lisa Carlson attended the homecoming concert and estimated that approximately 100 people were in attendance.  She also said the choir sang 11 pieces.

Choir of the West performed in Leavenworth, Missoula, Great Falls, Kalispell and Spokane.
Choir of the West performed in Leavenworth, Missoula, Great Falls, Kalispell and Spokane.

“I liked the variety of the pieces they played,” Carlson said. “There were religious ones and folk ones among others.”

Leading up to the homecoming concert, the tour included sharing music with audiences in various cities of Washington and Montana, including Leavenworth, Missoula, Great Falls, Kalispell and Spokane.

Brian Galante directed this year’s tour. Galante has been serving as the choir’s conductor during Richard Nance’s 2013-14 sabbatical leave.

The choir also collaborated with Oksana Ezhokina, the chair of piano studies, during the first half of the performance.

The entire choir, which is composed of about 40 members, went on the tour, staying in homestays and riding a bus with a bathroom, television and Wi-fi.

Members spent bus time playing games, listening to music, sleeping, looking over music to be performed and even doing some homework.

Sophomore David Carson is in his first year of Choir of the West, which he described as a mixed vocal ensemble.

“Music is really intense,” Carson said.

The choir usually rehearses four days per week for about 90 minutes each day. Choir of the West guidelines indicate members should practice in their own time.

Carson said this outside practice received special emphasis for the set they took on tour, which contained lengthy pieces.

“There wasn’t too much repetition in rehearsal,” Carson said. “The songs were so long that repeating would tire out our voices.”

At some locations, only parts of the prepared pieces were performed, while the entire tour set was performed in other locations.

The concerts were in churches, but the tour also included some high schools with exchanges — where the Choir of the West sings a few pieces for the high school choirs, which will sometimes sing back if time allows.

Carson said that visiting high schools is, “to show what we do here, show about Choir of the West and what’s going on here with choral music.”

Carson said Galante told students they can come to Pacific Lutheran University, major in something other than music and still get a music scholarship.

So, Carson said, these high school stops build important connections and show off what the choir can do.

However, Carson said the intent of the high school stops was more to share the collegiate music experience with students, in comparison to the official performances, which all took place at churches.

Congregation members from these churches hosted the choir members, providing them with places to stay and food.

Junior Katrina Watson is concluding her second year as a Choir of the West member, and she said her homestay experience on tour this year was better than her experience last year.

“Everybody had really nice beds for us, at least in mine, which doesn’t always happen, so that was nice. And all the people were really nice,” Watson said.

Watson said that, in past years, choir members have had to sleep on floors, so this year’s volunteers were really appreciated.

Additionally, breakfast was usually provided by the volunteers at the home where the choir members stayed. The churches normally provided dinner for the choir as well.

Outside of church performances, high school visits and homestays, the tour also included scenery and several pit-stops.

The choir visited The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Great Falls. Watson said that, for her, the best part of the museum was feeling the pelts of different animals.

Whitefish was another stop, where the choir had lunch and a few hours of tourism and shopping.

The tour also included seeing The Great Falls of the Missouri River. Students viewed the sights through the windows of the bus as well.

“There were mountains everywhere and lots of cows,” Watson said.

While there were many great aspects of Spring Tour this year, Carson emphasized the choir always continues to aim for greatness year round.

“We all strive for a really high quality performance that’s well put together and in tune and also to have fun with the performance,” Carson said. “You can’t be super uptight like it has to be perfect, but you want it as good as it can be.”

While Carson said it’s obvious all the choir members enjoy performing, he said he likes, “how all the members really care about the music.”

Watson described Choir of the West as, “a place where I can go and make high-level beautiful music.”

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