The University Chorale performed its homecoming concert on April 21 after returning from its five day tour in Oregon and Washington.
The choir performed at Lutheran churches and various high schools.
The tour was a way to “connect and network with other [Pacific Lutheran University] alumni and also to recruit and inspire high school students to come to PLU and to continue music,” said chorale conductor and visiting professor Lauren Whitham.
The choir performed 12 times in five days. But they did have some downtime.
“We had about an hour and a half-ish to look at the Oregon capital building and explore the Willamette University campus, and then we had about an hour in downtown Portland,” sophomore Hannah Rausch said, “but other than that we were singing, eating, or on the bus.”
Sophomore Katie Beck’s favorite performance was at Sprague High School in Salem, Ore. The chorale performed its song “Jabberwocky.”
“It’s really crazy and we scream and [play] instruments,” Beck explained.
“Up until that point I think people don’t really know how to react to that song,” Beck said, “but the kids at that school were all laughing and enjoying it, so it was really nice to get that kind of reaction and see that we are doing it well.”
The Chorale’s performance at Sprague was Rausch’s favorite as well.
Whitham enjoyed the tour’s final dinner at Olive Garden.
“At that event we recognized all the people that had helped this year,” Whitham said.
One of the people recognized was Shirley Garrison, PLU’s tour director. Garrison is retiring this year and Whitham used the dinner as a retirement party for her.
The choir had 18 pieces in its program, all of which had to be memorized for the tour.
“How our program worked – it was basically a story of life,” Rausch said.
The program was divided into five sections: songs of creation, childhood, love, strife and peace.
The tour ended with a homecoming concert in Lagerquist.
Whitham dedicated the final concert to her friend Brian Bradshaw who died while serving in Afghanistan in 2009.
Whitham and Bradshaw became friends in high school, and grew closer at PLU. They graduated in 2007.
Whitham knew this was the perfect concert “that could celebrate the life of my friend Brian, but also tell a story that was relatable to every singer and every audience member, so that it wasn’t specifically about one person.”
“It was a really wonderful emotional journey to go on,” Rausch said.
First Lieutenant Brian Bradshaw
Conductor Lauren Whitham dedicated this tour to her late friend Brian Bradshaw, an Afghanistan Veteran. She read this high school essay written by Bradshaw at the Homecoming concert.
“Service is the foundation of life. Without service, our lives have the same impact and meaning as a stick lying on the ground. No one remembers the sticks stepped on in the woods, but everyone remembers the flowers they see and smell in the meadow. If we serve and work throughout our life we will be like the flower that everyone remembers and always comes back. In our memory, many more people, especially those that we touched during our life will carry on the legacy of service, thus we had a positive impact on others and life had meaning. The whole meaning of life is to pass on to others that which we value most. What I value is service. Throughout the rest of my life I will serve the community of my brethren to the best of my ability.” 🅼