By Bailey Musselman '18
The Knox College Choir spent spring break traveling and performing six concerts abroad in Southern France. The tour included concerts from March 15 through March 22 in Cannes, Nice, Menton Aix en Provence, Avignon, and Marseilles.
The Knox College Choir regularly tours throughout the United States during the College's Spring Break, and embarks on a European tour every four years. The KCC has performed abroad in both Italy and Barcelona, Spain, but Laura Lane, director of choral activities and chair of the music department, has wanted to take the choir to France for years.
"I studied in France as a junior in college and speak French fluently," said Lane. "I wanted to introduce the choir students to this country with its people, architecture, art, language, and food that I adore."
Lane found traveling with the choir in France a personal dream come true. "Southern France is filled with Roman ruins (like the incredible Pont du Gard), Roman, Gothic and Baroque churches for us to sing in, and warm, generous people. The people of the southern provinces of France are absolutely lovely."
The tour program featured three selections in French and one in Haitian Creole.
"I don't think audiences were expecting an American choir to sing in French at all, so they were surprised and delighted," Lane said.
The concert included "Le Pont Mirabeau," a famous poem by the French poet Apollinaire, and Debussy's "Yver, vous n'estes qu'un villain." They also performed the new work "Leaves," commissioned by the choir from Ēriks Ešenvalds, one of today's best-known choral composers, for their tour. Ešenvalds traveled to Knox to work with the choir on the piece in early March.
"We got standing ovations at every concert, and in one concert the crowd stood up four times! I don't think I have ever experienced such audience enthusiasm outside of our own Knox crowd at the Home Tour Concert. But in Europe? This kind of audience response is very unusual," added Lane.
Francesca Downs '19 became a member of the choir this past fall, and similarly noted how appreciative the choir was to the audiences' response.
"Locals would go up to Laura, and they would tell her how moving the music was. I think that's pretty powerful," said Downs.
Downs commented on the beauty of the churches that the choir performed in, including the Basilique Saint-Michel Archange and Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste du Faubourg.
"You're making this beautiful music, with people that you've gotten really close to, in these amazing churches in France—churches that have been around for hundreds of years," said Downs. "There's so much history behind them. There are a lot of emotions with that, especially because singing is very vulnerable, too."
The Knox College Choir's next concert will be a performance of Brahms' Requiem on May 6 at Central Congregational Church.
photos by choir member Caitlyn Morgan '18
Knox College Choir
Laura Lane, conductor
Casey Dierlam, accompanist
*Ellie Baird, La Grange, Illinois: Theatre
Jessica Beckman, Owatonna, Minnesota: Creative Writing
*Lara Braverman, Vernon Hills, Illinois: Chemistry/Theatre
*Miranda Curtis, Raleigh, North Carolina: Theatre
Maggie Decker, St. Louis, Missouri: Undecided
*Danielle Freeman, Buffalo Grove, Illinois: Creative Writing
Courtney Harris, Tinley Park, Illinois: Psychology/Biology
Mari Hockett, Warrenville, Illinois: Writing
*Mary Houlihan, Aurora, Illinois: Psychology
Ashaunti Roby, Chicago, Illinois: Music Education
*Cassidy Snyder, St. Louis, Missouri: International Relations
Sarah Schierbeek, Skokie, Illinois: Psychology/Art
*Lydia Allen, Chicago, Illinois: Chemistry
Stephy Austin, Evanston, Illinois: Nutrition
Liliana Coelho, Iowa City, Iowa: Sustainable Social Change
Francesca Downs, Chicago, Illinois: Anthropology-Sociology/Creative Writing
*Erin Frey, Louisville, Kentucky: Elementary Education/Anthropology-Sociology
*Rachel Horne, Redmond, Washington: Elementary Education
Hansini Krishna, Roselle, Illinois: Biochemistry/Music
Michiko Li, Tokyo, Japan: Integrated International Studies
*Meghan Mohn, Kansas City, Kansas: Creative Writing
*Caitlyn Morgan, Geneva, Illinois: Neuroscience/Psychology
*Madeline Pape, Portland, Oregon: Music
Haley Richter, Minneapolis, Minnesota: Psychology
Sarah Smith, Maryville, Missouri: Music
Hajah Turpin, Newark, New Jersey: Psychology
Anya Wang, Xuzhou, China: Philosophy
Abenicio Casias, Denver, Colorado: Music
*Samuel Fredericksen, Highland, Illinois: International Business
*Danni Gilmour, Mount Morris, Illinois: Classics
*Tommy Hintz, Geneva, Illinois: Environmental Studies
Morgan Jellison, Minneapolis, Minnesota: Theatre
*Benjamin Lambert, La Grange, Illinois: Psychology
Tanner Nelson, Webster Groves, St. Louis, Missouri: Undecided
David Petrak, Darien, Illinois: English Literature
Noah Zand, Kenosha, Wisconsin: Psychology/Education
*Eric Coats, Chicago, Illinois: Economics
Benjamin Dolezal, Columbia, Missouri: Biology/Environmental Studies
Edward Freeman, Chicago, Illinois: Music Education
Alex Gallo, Glen Ellyn, Illinois: Music Education
Alex Heston, Los Angeles, California: Psychology
*Graham Holmes, Galesburg, Illinois: English Literature
Errol Kaylor, Lombard, Illinois: Undecided
Zak Metalsky, Appleton, Wisconsin: Theatre
Shubham Moitra, Mumbai, India: Economics/Mathematics
Aidan Murphy, Prairie View, Illinois: Creative Writing
*Gabriel Ochoa, Phoenix, Arizona: Music Composition
Benjamin Rezko, Chicago, Illinois: Theatre
*Jared Smith, Seneca, Wisconsin: Chemistry
Dakota Stipp, Galesburg, Illinois: Computer Science
Tom Trudeau, Raleigh, North Carolina: Neuroscience/Physics
*Max Wallace, Watseka, Illinois: Political Science/Economics
*Member of Knox College Chamber Singers
Danielle Freeman, president
Cassidy Snyder, treasurer
Abenicio Casias, public relations
Madeline Pape, secretary
Miranda Curtis, secretary