Wisconsin Lutheran Choir Blog

How Can I Keep from Singing?

2014 Great Lakes Concert Tour | 24 Mar 2014

The Ides of March

Zehnders

Kimberly and Olivia enjoy lunch “just like ma makes”

So with today being The Ides of March, it was a guaranteed sign that something interesting would happen; and indeed it did. After another wonderful night with our host families, we gathered into our buses and headed back to Frankenmuth for a chance to explore both downtown and Bronner’s CHRISTtmas Wonderland for some last-minute shopping.

Frankenmuth was one of Michigan’s #1 tourist stops, and they certainly made an impact with their German decor. While going through the stores they had everything from German hats to live accordion music playing in the restaurants. Everyone was extremely friendly, and the food at our lunch stop was “Just like ma used to make.” Walking around was pleasant due to the warm sun and non-frigid temperatures.

Frank 1

Christmas greetings from Bronner’s!

After our afternoon excursion, we drove a three-hour ride to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Stevensville to perform our last concert of the tour. For a handful of seniors, this was their last time to sing the “Thank You Song” after eating a church-provided meal, their last “Abide With Me” away from the Wisconsin Lutheran College campus, and the last time that they would stay with a host family.

I know that as we head back to campus tomorrow everyone will be reflecting on the memories and connections made on this tour; but I’m glad we are not done yet [the tour home concert was yet to come as of this writing]. It will be nice to make music with this group of people a few more times before we go our separate ways; and as we all continue on in our personal endeavors, I am reminded of what we sang in The Music of Living:

I want to move in rhythm with your plan.  Help me to follow your leading. To risk even falling, to rise and keep trying. For You are leading the dance.God has richly blessed this musical family with safe travels and memories we will cherish; but none of this could have been possible without the guidance of Dr. Nowack and his wife Dorothy (a.k.a. Mom). We are thankful for them each and every day in helping carry out the choir’s mission to glorify God through the music we have been graced to hear.

Oh, that the Lord would guide my ways
To keep His statutes still!
Oh, that my God would grant me grace
To know and do His will!

 Kimberly

2014 Great Lakes Concert Tour | 22 Mar 2014

Just Keep Swimming! (a blog post by Courtney and Sydney)

Here’s a little retrospective from Days 1 and 2 of our Great Lakes Concert Tour, as shared by Courtney and Sydney, a.k.a. “The Giovinazzo Twins”

FOND DU LAC, Wisconsin, and ESCANABA, Michigan –

Gio Twins

Syd and Court “Just Keep Swinging!”

We went to bed at 1:00am. At 2:00am the clocks turned forward to 3:00am. In the wee hours of the morning at 6:30am, I woke up to Syd singing, “You are so beautiful to me!” I thought about hitting her in the head with my pillow but I couldn’t muster up the strength to actually do so. The two of us finished getting ready and sat down to eat a wonderful breakfast with our host mom who was student tour manager Dan’s grandmother. She told us so many funny stories and laughed as we shared our own stories. I still to this day can honestly say I have always had wonderful host families on choir tours!

We then packed up our bags and headed for the church at 7:45am. When we got there we found out that one of our motorcoaches had broken down before it could even make it to the parking lot of the church. We were instructed to at least pack the bus that had made it back to church so that we could quickly get going as soon as the new bus arrived. While we waited, Syd got a bright idea. “Let’s go play on the swings!” she cried. So, excitedly, like little children, we hurried outside to the playground just next to the church. After we satisfied the children inside ourselves talking through the cup telephones, sliding across the bridge, and attempting but failing to climb the monkey bars we were once so talented at, we headed toward the bus to start finding a seat. Dorothy Nowack, our fearless tour manager, lovingly told us how crazy we were as she laughed at the silliness that was happening before her eyes. We were also instructed to gather up the waiting choir members since the new bus was on its way. Away we leapt and danced into the church to convey the message. “Assemble da minions!” Sydney called as we ran into the church. How we have this kind of energy in the morning is baffling not only to the rest of the choir but to me as well.

Soon enough we were on the bus and headed to Green Bay for brunch, our second meal in two and a half hours. We pulled up to the Old Country Buffet at approximately 10:00am, and were welcomed by the sight and smell of mac and cheese, fried chicken, tacos, ice cream, and slushies—and they called this brunch? While there, Jacob  discovered the secret to curing a brain freeze, and Lydia discovered that the whole plate of food she had eaten was the same color (you know what they say). Promptly at 10:50am, we loaded the bus and headed off to Salem Lutheran Church in Escanaba, a.k.a. “Enchilada” to Coltyn. Somewhere along the way, we crossed the time zone into Eastern time, “We’re on home time now!” I, Syd, exclaimed to Court. Though, at this point, I lost all recognition of how to tell time with the multiple time changes. So sometime between 1:00pm and 3:00pm, we arrived at Salem Lutheran welcomed by a delicious dinner and an ice cream bar following our concert, and a pink-adornedGios at FDL nursery room for the men’s changing room.

Between 5:00pm and 7:00pm, the choir had dispersed, either to host families or hotel rooms. Court and I dashed to our own room 205, feeling the slightest bit sorry for the poor souls who had to room us. “Now what?” room 205 asked each other as we lay on our beds trying to get up. Thankfully, Amanda had peanut butter and jelly trail mix for rejuvenation, and with that we headed down to the apparently luxurious Jacuzzi and pool. As we neared the pool room, we heard evidence of a clan of people singing. What was supposed to be a relaxing “night at the spa” turned into a Frozen-themed, lukewarm hot tub experience; not quite what we expected. Then again, spontaneity breeds memories.

At 7:40pm we noticed that the hotel clock said 6:40pm so we had no idea what the correct time was. Everyone’s phones read something different. Then Court turned to me and said, “we just lost two hours of sleep…” We laughed about that for a good five minutes, “better get to sleep now if I want to get 9 hours of sleep!” said Brittany. As our dear friend and fellow choir member, Abby, said as she worked her way through the crowded hall of the church to her spot in line, “just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” That is what we do. We just keep swimming when things don’t go as planned or are out of our control. We are a well-oiled machine, as Court always says. Constantly rolling with the punches and continuing to swim through tour and its challenges. It always makes for good memories. Just keep swimming!

Syd and Court

2014 Great Lakes Concert Tour | 20 Mar 2014

Great City, Great Stories

Chase writes about free time in Toronto last week….

Waking up early always seems to be easier when you know you have a fun day ahead of you, and today was one of those days. The bustling breakfast got the day going, and my group set out for Niagara Falls. Traveling is a new activity for me, and going anywhere really gets me excited to see the new things. After a quick nap on the bus I woke up in Niagara Falls, Ontario, where you could smell the tourism in the air. The cold hit us hard as we walked out of the warm bus, but thankfully I had bought an insulated baseball cap with ear covers the day before (great impulse buy, I know). Immediately, the cameras and phones were pulled out and pictures were snapped of friends, the river, the hill and city, and, of course, the falls. Tons and tons of water poured over the edge and shot up in the air and created large hills of snow on the ice below the falls. After a bit, the frigid air forced most of us into the visitor’s center and the restaurants and gift shops inside, and forced a few people to do a bit of impulse buying.

The way back to Toronto was slowed down by quite the big city traffic, but the time was filled with card games, naps, and same antsy moving around waiting to get out on the town. On arrival a few of us had no idea what we planned on doing, and I was completely okay with that. Some groups went on a big walk to the mall, some went to a show at a theater, and a few of my friends and I walked around with almost no aim at all. Most times this would bother me, but the pure size of Toronto was enough to keep this kid from Green Bay, Wisconsin entertained. Being with a group of girls, we were kept busy by all the stores on the few main streets around our hotel. We went to a highly recommended bar and grill and enjoyed some delicious food. My meal was the new glimpse of Canadian heaven, “poutine,” [fries covered with gravy and cheese curds] which I had never heard of before, but I am going to miss it even more than hearing people telling me to “Have a nice day, eh.” (That is saying a lot.)

After our meal, we wanted to possibly get on the subway and head over to the mall for a little bit. We walked downstairs, but the throng of the busy people, the confusing signs, and the issue of not having the exact change scared us away from the subway and back to the hotel where we relaxed for a bit. The rest of the night was filled with a few card games, a movie, and a late night trip to the convenient store across the way to get some cookies and snacks. There was also an awesome jazz/rock band in the bar connected to the hotel where we got to listen to some fantastic live music, and watch some elderly people get their groove on out on the dance floor.

This full free day was wonderful. Spending time with friends, getting closer to new friends, and discovering more about this amazing world are just a few of the things that came from this amazing opportunity. I loved being able to tell the waitress that we were from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and we were in town as part of the Wisconsin Lutheran Choir’s performance tour. We were just bringing a little more diversity to the spectacular city of Toronto, and I have a feeling most of us will be bringing some great stories back home, eh?

Chase

2014 Great Lakes Concert Tour &General | 11 Mar 2014

Abiding in Michigan

I am writing this blog post from Frankenmuth, Michigan. We just performed our third concert of the tour. The day involved a long bus ride, but our concert this evening at Bronner Performing Arts Center was presented by King of Kings Ev. Lutheran Church, and it was wonderful. I thought it was our best so far. The choir worked together to keep blend within voice parts and sang with beautiful tone. Something Dr. Nowack told us about music stood out to me tonight. He said, “In every performance we must re-create our music, it does not come automatically.” Our choir achieved this; we worked hard for it!

I am a junior transfer student from Martin Luther College, and this is my first Wisconsin Lutheran Choir tour. I would say that my favorite part about our concert is joining hands to sing Abide with Me. This song is powerful because of the lyrics and the music surrounding them. I find great joy sharing this fine text and emotion with our audience. It is safe to say that this song means a lot to our choir. I would be lying if I did not say that the last verse did not make me tear up. And with that I would love for you to ponder this and know that we are sharing the Gospel and God’s word with many in Michigan and soon Canada.

Abide With Me: I fear no foe with thee at hand to bless, ills have to weight and tears no bitterness. Where is death’s sting? O grave thy victory? I triumph still if though abide with me.”

Leslie

2014 Great Lakes Concert Tour | 11 Mar 2014

Waiting to Spring Forth

As our bus lumbers over the top of Lake Michigan, across the Mackinac Bridge, and down to Frankenmuth, we have passed thousands of standing trees. Every time I look out the window, trees rush past. Many of the trees are hardwoods. Their brown skeletons stand solemnly against the gray sky. In contrast to these statuesque timbers, evergreens spruce up the horizon, creating welcomed breaks in the brown drone that runs through my field of view. These trees keep their color throughout the year.  They serve as a reminder that though the forest may look as dead as a field of gravestones it is still full of life, just waiting for spring to bring forth its hidden beauty. This beauty of creation proclaims the glory of God. In the same way that a few evergreens serve as a reminder of life in the winter forest, our music reminds the audience of the eternal praises we will all sing someday in heaven. We even have green robes!

Zachary

2014 Great Lakes Concert Tour &General | 11 Mar 2014

Becoming a Morning Person

Lydia and LeslieI’ve never been a morning person, so our 7:30 a.m. bus pick-up time from our hotel in Escanaba, Michigan, didn’t exactly appeal to me. In fact, it’s 11:58 a.m. and I still can’t say that I’m completely awake. Movies on the bus, endless lines of trees, and a full stomach from lunch make my eyes feel heavy as we complete the five-hour trek from Escanaba to Frankenmuth, where we’ll be sharing the Word through song tonight.

Even though I’m not a morning person, God is. As Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Maybe instead of focusing on my inability to function in the morning, I could appreciate the fact that I woke up in a hotel room sponsored by Salem Lutheran’s congregation members. I’ve only been awake for five hours, and already I’ve had the opportunity to see a beautiful sunrise over Lake Michigan, cross the Mackinac Bridge, and take part in an impromptu performance of “Abide With Me” at our lunchtime restaurant. As our entire group attempted a jumping photo op in front of the Mackinac Bridge, I realized just how blessed I am to have such a fantastic family of believers around me, all striving towards a common goal (even if, at the moment, it was to coordinate a leap on three).

It hard to believe that it’s already the third day of tour – the days have flown by as we make our way to Canada. The Lord has blessed us in so many ways thus far (even in the mornings when some of us might not deserve it), and I can’t wait to see what else He has in store for our choir family.

Lydia

2014 Great Lakes Concert Tour | 10 Mar 2014

First Stop & Feeling On Top

Kimberly writes about Day One of our tour…. 

The Lord has blessed the Wisconsin Lutheran Choir with another wonderful tour opportunity. Today we headed out for Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Kimberlyand received a sunny sendoff from family and friends. I think everyone is excited for the academic break and a chance to see new things off campus. Our first stop was lunch and Bublitz’s, a family restaurant buffet-style, followed by a 13-eam bowling tournament. Several photos have been taken and will be posted soon.

Our first concert stop was at Faith Lutheran Church, and we were fortunate to be able to attend a Saturday night church service that talked about Jesus being tempted in the wilderness. It just goes to show that we can praise and serve God anywhere at any time and in any way. The concert was a wonderful success and attended by many. Eric Whitacre’s Alleluia and Abide With Me were especially memorable.

Afterward, we spent the evening with our host families and had the opportunity to grow further in fellowship with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. With night one done and feeling on top of the world, I’m glad to share this experience with so many wonderful people and cannot wait to see what tomorrow and the rest of tour brings.

Kimberly

2014 Great Lakes Concert Tour | 01 Mar 2014

By the Book

It’s a Wisconsin Lutheran Choir tradition for members to share encouragement from Scripture in our “tour books.” The books are presented during our tour orientations and are referred to throughout our travels. They contain daily schedules; policies, procedures, and routines; crew assignments and job descriptions; and interesting facts about the places we’ll visit during the performance tour. Members’ favorite verses are sprinkled throughout the pages of each edition, providing us with mini meditations on God’s Word that uplift, encourage, and inspire us throughout our travels. Here’s an example:

Audrey“And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

I love this Bible passage because it is a constant reminder that God is the author of our lives, and he has a plan and purpose for everything that happens in our lives. We don’t need to worry, because no matter what happens, God is in control. It also is a great reminder of how God calls us to certain vocations in life based on the individual skills and talents he has blessed us with. It is such a great opportunity to be part of a choir that is composed of such a diverse group of students that are blessed in different areas of study. We all have uniquely beautiful ways of serving him through our vocations, but we are also all united in one mission to glorify him through song. Soli Deo Gloria.

Audrey, ’16

Anna B

2013 United Kingdom and Ireland Tour &Christmas Festival Concerts | 20 Dec 2013

Capturing Memories

We just finished exams last week and now I’m home and…I’m missing choir already. As fun as it is to come home, see my family, sleep in, and open a few presents, it’s really hard to beat the Christmas feelings you get at a choir concert – especially if you’re singing in it. As a senior, these Christmas concerts were my last ones with my choir family, and I’m happy to say that they were some of the best performances I think this choir has had in my four years with them. Thank you to all who came and listened! I hope you enjoyed it.

"View from the Rock of Cashel"

“View from the Rock of Cashel”

I also wanted to take a minute to share a few works that I finished over this past semester. I will be graduating in May with a BA in art and hope to enter graduate school in the fall to receive my Master of Fine Arts – the terminal degree in art. The oil paintings shown below were a part of the Islands & Lights: A Creative Arts Exhibition of WLC Art and Music Departments’ Overseas Tours in the Schlueter Art Gallery this past fall. Inspired by the international concert tour I was able to go on with the Wisconsin Lutheran Choir last spring, these pieces were very fun to make – especially as I remembered all the great memories from the trip. I am planning to make more pieces using the reference photos I took throughout the tour, but for now, I hope you enjoy these!

The first piece is “A View from the Rock of Cashel,” showing the Rock of Cashel in ­­­­Ireland. Choir members stand off to the right as they walk on the rolling hills of the Irish landscape. I found the view of the sky and land and the physical structure of the Rock of Cashel itself, run down with history and constant tourists, as such a neat and immense juxtaposition to the tiny figures taking it all in. As a choir, I think we constantly felt an overwhelming awe at the glory of God’s creation and the lands we were able to see outside of Wisconsin, USA.

"Capturing the Cathedral"

“Capturing the Cathedral”

The second piece is “Capturing the Cathedral.” Taking in the many cathedrals as tourists, as well as having the chance to sing in them, was quite the experience. In this piece, I hoped to show the almost hectic feel of walking into such a large cathedral. This particular cathedral is St. Patrick’s in Dublin, Ireland. By far one of the largest cathedrals we sang in the whole tour, the crowds that day were also just as big. As tourists, as well as members of the choir, I caught this moment as a bunch of us tried to take in the cathedral before we sang. Interesting how our “taking in” of such a wonderful piece of architecture is capturing it through a camera lens…Luckily for us, we got to experience the glory of one of God’s houses as we sang praises to him in front of the altar seen in the background of my painting.

Galway Bay small

“Galway Bay”

The next piece is “Galway Bay.” During a walk with a few members of the choir in Galway, Ireland the night we arrived, this view caught my attention as the sun was going down. Almost like a picture postcard, the nice composition created by the colorfully painted houses in the background and the boats in the foreground make for an enjoyable painting. There were many of these beautiful scenes throughout our tour of Europe.

The final pieces are sketches I made throughout the tour showing other tourist spots we saw and cathedrals or cafes we stopped at. I was so happy I brought my sketchbook along to make live drawings of the places and people I saw.

Merry Christmas to you all, and I can’t wait to sing for you all again in the spring!

Anna

 

Michael

Christmas Festival Concerts | 04 Dec 2013

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

I can say, fairly certainly, that Edward Pola and George Wyle, the writers of the popular Christmas song, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” were not college students in 1963 when they composed the song. College students may be hard pressed to find examples of why late November and early December is “the most wonderful time of the year” while neck high in group projects, presentations, juries, research papers, clinicals, along with a host of other daily tasks, the number of which rivals that of the angels in the sky on Christmas Eve. Stress from high expectations, whether looming or past, weighs on our minds as we continue to trudge through all the tasks that must be completed within an ever-shortening span of time.

I can say from the personal experience of being a student through (almost) four full fall semesters at WLC that there are some days that are exactly the opposite of wonderful. There is, though, one part of my daily routine during these bleak and hectic times that provides a much needed relief from the pressures of the everyday grind: choir.

In spite of the impending doom of November and December, each year I anxiously await the time that our choir folders are filled to the brim with Christmas music to prepare for our Christmas Festival Concerts. Ever since my senior year of high school, the Christmas Festival Concerts at WLC have been the highlight of my Christmas season. This being my last year as a member of Wisconsin Lutheran Choir has led me to examine just how much I appreciate and will miss the fellowship that comes with hours of rehearsal and preparation for three evenings and an afternoon of beautiful choir music. I really can’t think of any better way to celebrate Jesus’ birth than joining in fellowship and song with other Christians. So next time you’re tempted to grumble at the hustle and bustle that accompanies this season, just take a moment to remember why it really is the most wonderful time of the year.

Michael

Christmas Festival Concerts | 03 Dec 2013

Alleluia!

 

Dan and Friends

Thankful for family, friends, and the message of the Christmas season!

At this time of the semester, things can get pretty hectic. Projects, papers, rehearsals, juries… It is easy to get caught up in the stress of it all. Procrastination is my middle name, so it sure can be a struggle to finish projects! I see everyone else stressing out during these final two weeks of school as well. Thanksgiving was just this past weekend. It was a great reminder amidst the chaos of the end of the semester of what we can truly be thankful for—family, friends, and the love of God.

Going to choir rehearsal also puts life into perspective. Today, as we were singing Eric Whitacre’s Alleluia, I thought, “The only word we are singing is ‘Alleluia,’ so what are we actually saying? ‘Praise to the Lord’—why should we praise the Lord? Think of all the blessings he has given us—family, friends, and of course the message this Christmas season, he has sent his one and only Son to die for our sins! Praise the Lord! Incorporating these thoughts and feelings truly brings a new meaning to the song.

My prayer is that all those who are feeling the stress of this time of year can step back and see all of the blessings God has given them and say, “Alleluia!”

Dan

ACDA Student Chapter &Outreach | 08 Nov 2013

Choir Exchange with Hamilton HS Concert Choir

Hamilton High School's Concert Choir participates in a workshop with Dr. Nowack

Hamilton High School’s Concert Choir participates in a workshop with Dr. Nowack

As a future music educator, nothing makes me happier than to see students get excited about music. I recently had a unique opportunity to see that excitement in 89 high school students when the Concert Choir from Hamilton High School (Sussex, WI) spent part of a school day on the Wisconsin Lutheran College campus. The event was led by our student chapter of ACDA (American Choral Directors Association) with the help of other concert choir members.

The day began with tours from WLC’s Ambassador Club, and I can honestly say I learned new things about my school, even as a senior! It’s amazing how unaware I was of the things that go on in our science department. I’m very glad I decided to go along on the tour with the students! The high school choir members then participated in a workshop with Dr. Nowack, an event I would have liked to witness as well but sadly had to miss due to other classes.

My favorite part of the day was the choir exchange. Wisconsin Lutheran Choir members listened to the high school choir sing a few songs, one of which was directed by former WLC choir member Quinten Petersen. It was so neat to see one of our past members living his dream! I was incredibly impressed by the high school choir and thought they were very strong at such a young age. Our choir then sang a few selections from our fall concert. The response of the high school students was unbelievable and so encouraging for us. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a group get so excited about a choral performance!

Spending just a few hours with the Hamilton High School Concert Choir has given me more motivation to keep pushing toward my goal in music education. God always knows when we need a little encouragement, and those high schoolers could not have come at a more perfect time in my life. God is good!

Charis

General | 10 Oct 2013

Music Speaks Louder Than Words

The cliche “music speaks louder than words” has held true this semester. Music touches in ways that nothing else can. It is our universal language that is used to express life. Music, unlike words alone, touches not only our thoughts, but our hearts as well.

A few weeks ago, my beloved Nana (grandma) passed away. While she is rejoicing in heaven, we are mourning here on earth. I was unable to find any way to express my feelings of her loss until a recent choir rehearsal. How Can I Keep From Singing rang through the rehearsal hall, and it expressed all the emotion that I felt. Our music turned from a simple tune to a prayer that entered my every being. The music brought me the comfort and peace that nothing else could in that moment.

Now, our campus mourns the loss of our mentor, colleague, and friend, Dean Joel Mischke. As we sing Abide With Me in memory of Dean Mischke, it is my hope that prayerful music will bring comfort and a sense of peace to those who grieve. Music is a piece heaven on earth. What better way to express our joys, sorrows, and beliefs than through music.

Breann

Christmas Festival Concerts &General | 10 Oct 2013

Once You Enter Those Doors…

“My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing and make music with all my soul.” (Psalm 108:1)

Greetings and Welcome,

After a beautiful and adventurous summer, the school year has begun with equal excitement and anticipation for what lies ahead; and nothing gives me greater joy than to be reunited with the Wisconsin Lutheran Choir and Chamber Choir. It fills me with joy when old choir members can welcome new faces and voices into the family; and hearing Dr. Nowack speak those famous words, “Once you enter those doors, all the problems of the outside world don’t exist. We are here for the next fifty minutes to praise God.”

BRF

BRFs: a long-standing choir tradition!

Those fifty minutes are the highlight of many students’ day, from the bonding activities to the much-needed BRF. (Old and new members look on this acronym with a smile.) We don’t just “sing our heart out”, we sing with our souls because we believe the message of what we are singing. Our musical repertoire, after a successful Fall Showcase Concert, begins to focus on the upcoming Christmas season and our annual Christmas Festival Concert series.

While some groan about the idea of Christmas shopping, the decorations, and the winter weather; I still get chills down my spine thinking about all the different ways of telling the story of the birth of Christ and what He came to this earth to do. We have started with pieces like Matthew Culloton’s arrangement of Angels We Have Heard on High and Vivaldi’s Gloria – which already sounded pretty good at the first-time sight reading.

The blessings and the opportunities that the choir experiences over the years are beyond comparison. The people we meet, the relationships we make, and the knowledge we share really do make us a family of believers. I’m looking forward to another wonderful year of fellowship and can’t wait to share our music.

Kimberly

Fall Mini Retreat &General | 09 Oct 2013

Here’s to Another Year With the Family

What a blessing it is to be reunited with my choir family once again! Last year at this time, I had barely been introduced into the family and did not yet quite understand the “magical

Sydney instructing Christian on the finer points of mummy wrapping.

Sydney instructing Christian on the finer points of mummy wrapping.

unity” that alumna, Melody, spoke of in her blog post earlier this year. It is incredible to think that already a full year has passed since my first audition, and I cannot contain my excitement for the experiences that will create this year’s memories. The first of these experiences began with the mini choir retreat. After postponing the first date due to inclement weather, God gave us a beautiful day to celebrate the reunion of returning members and the welcome to new members.

The retreat was held at the beautiful Elm Grove Village Park for an afternoon getaway from the crazy reality of WLC life. We were not the only family that had the idea of a Sunday cookout, as we politely invaded the green where another family had been residing for the afternoon. We were joined by past choir members, and I saw people sprinting across the lawn to greet the beloved alums.

After initial introductions, the events of the afternoon were filled with making lemonade, rolling cookies down our faces, mummifying each other in rolls of toilet paper, M&M throwing competitions, and not to mention acting like a herd of exceptionally unrelated animals, an activity that has repeated itself from the past year. Dinner was served “cook-out” style, thanks to our wonderful grillers, Dan, Danny, and Peter; followed by personal testimonials from the alums Jon, Peter, and Nina. Along with specific advice to each section which included telling the sopranos to learn to share the melody for once! Laughs were certainly not Dinnertime2lacking. Nevertheless, it was truly a blessing to see the unparalleled dedication of members, even after they have graduated, and it was  real treat to have them back for the day. A family certainly never forgets.

The evening came to a close as the embers from the grill slowly began to fade, leaving us with little time to whip up pudgie pies for dessert. Members were sent off, hands full of left-over goodies, and a night filled with memories to store in the choir file of the mind. The best part was watching members, both veteran and novice, interact with each other as if they had already known each other for a lifetime. It is my wish that the new members received a taste of what it means to be a part of the family, and that this initial reunion was the perfect kick-off to what is going to be an amazing year!

Sydney

P.S. You can see our retreat photo album here.

Courtney

2014 Great Lakes Concert Tour &Choir Alumni &General | 27 Sep 2013

Memories in the Making: Connected to Generations of Wisconsin Lutheran Choir Alums

Hello Music Lovers!

We are already five weeks into the start of my senior year of college; my last year of school ever. It is the ultimate feeling of bittersweet I have as I look around at my fellow choir members, all of which by now, are either in my class or younger than me. I can’t help but wonder if the seniors, my freshman year felt the same feeling as I do in this moment. It is incredible to think that I have spent four years in this choir; four extremely blessed years to have had the chance to sing my heart out in praises to God.

Freshman YearThere have been ups and downs, but I cannot and will not forget the countless memories I have made through these four years. I have made friends in this choir that I will keep for the rest of my life. It will be strange to take part of the last concerts of my last school year, my last Fall Showcase Concert, my last Christmas Festival Concert, my last spring concert; to go on my last performance tour and sing with the choir for the last time on my graduation day; sign up for my last tour roommate group with my wonderful sister who I am so blessed to share these memories with; and to wear my dark green robe one last time.

These all sound like sad moments and make me slightly teary at the thought of them, but each one reminds me of how wonderful every memory and moment has been. I only had tears in my eyes at the end of our last United Kingdom and Ireland Concert Tour performance, because every memory has been incredible up to that point, and I will only have tears in my eyes on graduation day, standing with the choir, because I will be reminded of how greatly God has blessed me with my chance to sing for the Wisconsin Lutheran Choir. These are tears of joy.

Yes, there will be some pain in those tears, but only because a wonderful daily blessing is coming to an end. That doesn’t mean, however, that we should be sad, but instead that we should rejoice because we can look back at pictures and talk to our friends to remind ourselves of the amazing times we’ve had that we will treasure dearly. And, we can share those memories with the new members of choir so that they can look forward to their amazing times to come.

I look forward to how wonderful this year is going to be, and I cannot wait to come to future concerts after I have graduated, knowing and witnessing the new choir members having just as much fun as I did. It is a connection that we often forget about. We are connected with generations of Wisconsin Lutheran Choir members through the wonderful memories we’ve made, the music we’ve sung, the praising we’ve done, and the wonderful choir director that we’ve all come to know and love.

But, the year isn’t over yet. It is only beginning. Yes, it will fly by because it always does, but we have a lot to look forward to starting with our Fall Showcase Concert on October 4th and 5th at 7:30pm. Please come and support us. Our mission to spread God’s word as a choir would be nothing without the incredible followers that we have. Let us all join together to praise God for the blessings that he has given us and will continue to give us, even when another blessing is nearing its conclusion. God is good and “works for the good of those who love him.”

Courtney

2013 United Kingdom and Ireland Tour | 04 Jun 2013

Magical Unity

MelodyA little over two weeks ago, I graduated from WLC and prepared to leave for my final choir tour. During this past semester, I’ve been trying to piece together my feelings about leaving the Wisconsin Lutheran Choir. I’ve only been part of this choir for two years, but those years have been so important and meaningful to me. I remember my first day in choir rehearsal, listening in awe as the students around me created beautiful harmonies together while sight-reading our first piece. Not only was the music exhilarating, but Dr. Nowack’s direction inspired that magical unity that every choir member has felt.

Throughout my busy schedule at school, especially during this past year, choir has been the bright spot in each day. It’s been a place to relax, breathe, and share beautiful music with others. More important than creating great music has been the love I’ve experienced in this choir. I’ve developed life-long friendships and have been welcomed into this amazing community. Although there have been some bumps along the way, choir has been a place where I’ve been welcomed with open arms and have been part of creating some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever experienced.

Throughout this tour, I’ve been moved to tears by the opportunities to sing together in beautiful spaces filled with so much history. While our travels have taken us to majestic places and taught us many things, each time we’ve sung together, I’ve been aware of the fact that this would end. It hit me in full force during our last performance in Galway, Ireland. As we held hands, singing Abide With Me together, I was overwhelmed with the realization that this was my last song with the choir. I was filled with gratitude for the friendships I’ve made, the music I’ve been allowed to help create, and the amazing direction I’ve received. I was also overcome with sadness, knowing that it would soon be over. In a word, the moment was bittersweet.

As I continue in my future, I’ll always be thankful for the amazing opportunity to participate in this choir. It’s been so incredible, and I’ll never forget it. Thank you, Dr. Nowack, for your encouragement and guidance, and thank you, fellow choir members, for the amazing journey.

Melody

2013 United Kingdom and Ireland Tour | 03 Jun 2013

Already Cherishing Memories

Class of 2013!

Class of 2013!

How does one even begin to describe the tour? Words alone cannot begin to explain the many wonders and adventures we all experienced during our travels. There were so many things. In England the weather was chilly for the majority of the time, but we experienced slightly warmer weather in Ireland. In England we all stayed with magnificent host families. In my opinion, these were the best experiences I have ever had with host families, most likely because we got to spend two nights with each family, creating even stronger bonds.

Another favorite memory was being in Stratford-upon-Avon. where we all got to tour Shakespeare’s birthplace and perform in Holy Trinity Church. Several of us students even got to see a Shakespeare play while we were there! “As You Like It,” one of The Bard’s many successful comedies, had many of us laughing to tears by the end of the night, and it created so many fun memories for us. The actors threw in some improv to help relate to the audience a little more. But if you wish to know more about it you should look it up!

After spending a couple days in Bamford we took a ferry from Wales to Ireland and landed in Dublin, where we had dinner at The Brazen Head, the oldest pub in Ireland! Other locations we visited and sang at included Kilkenny (one of our motorcoach driver’s home town), Cork, Limerick, and our final stop in Milwaukee’s sister city, Galway. I could not believe how amazing Ireland was until I went there, and I desperately want to go back!

In my opinion the Collegiate Church of St. Nicholas in Galway was my absolute favorite concert site! Even though it was one of the smaller venues, it had the most oustanding acoustics of any we visited in England or Ireland. Most of the time I counted a 5-second reverb within, and it reminded me that God certainly is great. How else would man have been able to build such awesome churches back in the Medieval days? What made it more important to me was that it was my final concert with this amazing choir, and I couldn’t have asked for a better concert site.

Having graduated a little over two weeks ago, this tour allowed me to end my collegiate career with a bang: an international tour to the United Kingdom and Ireland!! Being my favorite touring experience ever, there are many people to whom I need to express my thanks: my friends past and present for attending our concerts; our tour leaders for making daily announcements and keeping everyone in line; Dorothy Nowack, for arranging everything from plane tickets to housing arrangments to being awesome; Dr. Nowack–for whom I have the utmost respect–for granting me the opportunity to sing under his direction for the last three years and helping me to grow as a musician, person, and Christian; to my parents for their undying support of my love for music; and to God for granting me a voice which I can use to worship Him, make an impact on others, and enjoy a bond with other music lovers.

May God continue to bless the Wisconsin Lutheran Choir and all who support it, for membership really is a moving and life-changing experience, and I will be sorry to leave it. I am overjoyed, though, for having this opportunity. These are memories I will lock away forever.

Lindsay

2013 United Kingdom and Ireland Tour | 03 Jun 2013

Blessed in Countless Ways

Choir members share in a devotion aboard the Irish Ferries "Ulysses." Readings and discussion were inspired by ancient Celtic Christian rites.

Choir members share in a devotion aboard the Irish Ferries “Ulysses.” Readings and discussion were inspired by ancient Celtic Christian rites.

Exactly two weeks ago at this time, I was participating in a devotion in the Schwan Concert Hall and preparing for one last rehearsal before our departure. It all seems like a blur now as I look back on everything that has happened since then. Was I really in London for two days? Did I actually see the birthplace of William Shakespeare? As I reflect on all of the things I have seen and people I have met, it seems like a dream.

I knew tour would be fun, as every choir tour has been before, but this trip went beyond every expectation that I had. I was blessed to stay with two host families in England that I plan to stay in contact with when I return home. I saw sights, some man-made and some part of God’s Creation, that literally took my breath away and left me standing in awe. I sang praises to God at nine different locations, many of which have been used for worship for hundreds of years. I felt a closeness to God in places like this that cannot be described.

One of my favorite parts of this tour was seeing the Cliffs of Moher. Many things in nature have an evident purpose—food, energy, protection—but what is the purpose of these magnificent rocks? We have no need for them, so why did God put them there? These thoughts ran through my mind for hours, and I kept coming to the same conclusion. God is so great that he made things like this for our pure enjoyment and to show his almighty power. How can one look at such a glorious sight and not see his hand in nature?

As I sit in the airport waiting to return home, I look back at the past two weeks and see the countless ways that God has blessed me through this choir. I have made friendships that go beyond a simple school bond; no matter what country we are in, this group sings their hearts out to the glory of God. We share our love for singing and our love for our Savior, and that is a bond that will never be broken. We say farewell in a few short hours, but I will never forget this experience.

I will hold each of my fellow choir members dear to my heart and pray that God blesses their futures, whether they continue their education next year at WLC or go out to serve our Lord in other ways. I owe a huge thanks to all of them, Dorothy, Dr. Nowack, and our school for making this opportunity possible. God’s blessings on your summers!

Charis

2013 United Kingdom and Ireland Tour | 27 May 2013

A Warm Welcome and a Heartfelt Goodbye

Greetings from Europe, everyone!Liz blog pic

We’ve reached the halfway point of our European adventure! As we cross the sea to Ireland aboard the beautiful Ulysses Irish Ferry, I cannot help but reflect on the memories made during our week in England. Our travels through cities such as London, Cambridge, and Stratford-upon-Avon led us to the town of Bamford, our final destination in England. It was here that the choir was privileged to experience Europe on a uniquely personal level.

As we arrived at Bamford Chapel on Friday evening, we were greeted by our wonderful host families who (literally) welcomed us with open arms. We were matched with our hosts and departed for the evening to our “homes away from home.” The kindness and generous hospitality of our hosts were appreciated beyond words. The conversations were especially meaningful as we shared stories and got to know one another. They were curious about our lives in America, while we were interested in learning about life in Europe. It was so interesting to recognize the similarities and differences as we compared various aspects of our lifestyles. After only two days with our host families, strong bonds and friendships were made which, undoubtedly, will not soon be broken.

Our Saturday evening concert was a way for us to give back to our hosts and the community for their warm welcome. The choir and our audience filled the small chapel with beautiful music and smiling faces. The energy in the room was absolutely incredible! It is experiences like this concert which make me truly understand the mission of the Wisconsin Lutheran Choir. Through our music, we serve as ambassadors. We are representing our college, our country, and our Savior as we proclaim a powerful message in song. It was evident through the hearty applause and enthusiasm that our audience was very accepting of our message. The faith in the words that we sing is what unites us, not only as a choir, but with those who hear our music as well. As we said a heartfelt goodbye to our hosts and to England, we remember this unity which we will carry with us always.

In Him,

Liz

P.S. I can see Ireland on the horizon!

Older Entries »