Asbury Chorale Enjoys International Tour
May 26, 2016
This week, Asbury University Chorale members — both students and alumni — are enjoying the amazing opportunity to tour internationally, serving as choir in residence at Bristol Cathedral in England. Through its residency, the Chorale provides music for the cathedral services of Eucharist and Evensong and has performed two additional afternoon concerts at Bristol Cathedral and Wells Cathedral.
Cathedral music may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of summer ministry, but for the Chorale, it’s one more avenue for mission.
“God wants us to do our best to reflect His love wherever we go, and music is one of the most powerful tools that He’s given us to do that,” said Sarah Grace Bloyd ’17. “Music transcends cultural barriers and unifies us in a way that nothing else can, so I can’t wait to see what kinds of connections we form through that.”
On her first trip outside the U.S., Bloyd has especially enjoyed exploring a new culture and different approaches to worship.
“There’s nothing more educational than experiencing a culture by going out and being a part of it as best you can or simply sitting back and observing,” Bloyd said.
The Bristol Cathedral residency is the Chorale’s third international tour. In 2012, Asbury choristers traveled to Italy, where they provided music for a mass at St. Peter’s Basilica and presented concerts in Florence, Rome and Palestrina. In 2009, the Chorale completed a week-long residency at Gloucester Cathedral in England, presented a concert at Bath Abbey during the prestigious Bath Music Festival and performed at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford.
“The delight for me is in watching the choir develop as a true ensemble,” said Dr. Vicki Bell, the Chorale’s director and a professor of music theory at Asbury. “We began rehearsals on Wednesday, May 18, and I was pleased with the initial sound. By Friday night, we had made huge strides in musical accuracy, and especially in the interpretation of the music. By the time we complete the residency, we will be an outstanding ensemble, and our hearts will beat as one.”
Bell says the residency is not only an amazing opportunity for students to sing great music in great spaces, but also to explore a piece of Asbury’s history.
“The Wesleys were of the Anglican tradition, so in a sense, we’re tracing our musical and theological roots and catching a glimpse of our heritage,” Bell said.
While the ensemble has worked hard to prepare its repertoire, they have done so with the understanding that they are helping lead worship — not just performing.
“Cathedral musicians work alongside the clergy, and are considered an integral part of the worship,” Bell said. “We have been included in the planning of the services, and our musical choices were grounded in discussion and interaction with the cathedral clergy. The result, we hope, is a seamless and coherent presentation of God’s word through music and liturgy.”
To learn more about Asbury University’s Music Department, visit: asbury.edu/music