Wednesday, January 17, 2018

By Trevor Wiley, junior tenor
I woke up this morning (January 17, our travel day back to the US) with a feeling of nostalgia, gratitude, and excitement for the day to come. The experiences preceding this day have been breathtaking, inspiring, and a bit exhausting. Regardless of any fatigue from concerts, being thrust into a new country, culture, and performance acoustics has kept the choir responsive, engaged, and energized to the finish line.  I started my day with a hearty English breakfast at the hotel. The choir then boarded the coach to set out for our final day in a country we have grown to love so much. Our tour guide, Anita, was in an especially cheerful and humorous mood for our final day. I have sincerely appreciated her expertise, friendly tips, and gut busting jokes throughout the tour.   We made a quick stop to take a group photo in front of Buckingham Palace. We looked very important approaching the palace in our tuxes and dresses, which I am sure the Queen appreciated (even though she didn’t invite us in).  Our final concert took place at St. Martin-in-the-Fields, located in Trafalgar Square. The church had a beautiful classical design, with stark contrast between the dark wood and the white ceiling with beautiful gold embellishment. The space was strikingly simple, with large plain widows that brought a lot of light into the church.  While the space contrasted greatly with vast cathedrals (such as St. Paul’s and Ely Cathedral), the beauty of this room was captivating. The final day of our tour was probably the sunniest day; I don’t think I will ever forget how light flooded in through the large windows during our concert (similar to how light spills in through the windows of Sheslow auditorium at Drake).   The concert was a fabulous way to wrap up our tour. Dr. ABC frequently talks about all hearts and minds being in the same place, and how that can make music a transcendent experience—I think we achieved this in our final concert. Throughout the concert, I found myself thinking back to the beautiful spaces we had performed in throughout the tour. Thinking about the visual & sonic beauty in these spaces, in addition to the memories created on this tour, was overwhelming.   Following the concert, we talked with our large audience, who were very complimentary of our performance and grateful to listen to the music. One audience member thanked me, emphasizing how important it was for him to hear choirs from other countries. The opportunity to be musical ambassadors for our country is a big responsibility, but one that I believe we handled very well.  Following the concert we were free to do some final exploring in London. Dr. Saylor led a group of us to the Covent Garden area, where we grabbed fish and chips at a pub.   After exploring the city a bit more, we met at the Savoy Theatre to see the musical DREAMGIRLS as our final group experience. As a theatre/Broadway know-it-all, I was very excited that we voted to see this amazing production. The energy on that stage was absolutely riveting, with powerhouse performances from all members of the cast (but especially Marisha Wallace as Effie).   Following the performance, we ventured back to the hotel on the tube (subway) for a farewell dinner and awards. The senior class gives out awards that highlight some of the funniest moments from tour. This dinner gave us an opportunity to thank those who have made this tour a great experience, including Ron Rolland, Anita Baker, Dr. Saylor, Susan Watson, Dr. Lundy, and Dr. Dave Collier.  This final day didn’t have me saying farewell to England, but rather “see you later.” The experiences, both musical and non-musical, from this tour have encouraged me to explore this country by returning later in life. I think senior Caitlin Carr said it best when she said, “I don’t think I’ve ever realized how small I am and how small my experiences are.” The vastness of the architecture, culture, and history of this country was astounding. While I may not have the opportunity to return to England for many years, I am thrilled that I know the kind-hearted citizens of this country will welcome me back as they did during this tour. This tour has created some of the most striking visual and sonic memories I will ever carry with me. I am grateful for my parents, donors/supporters of the choral program, and Dr. ABC for making this tour a possibility for me.