“Sing a New Song” Tour Explores ‘New’ and ‘Old’ from a Musical Perspective

North Park University Choir
North Park's University Choir and Chamber Singers perform throughout the year under the direction of Dr. Julia Davids.

University Choir and Chamber Singers will tour in Minnesota, March 7–12

CHICAGO (February 25, 2014) — North Park University’s Chamber Singers and University Choir will tour Minnesota over Spring Break, performing at six churches, the Covenant Village retirement community, and Minnehaha Academy. The tour’s theme, “Sing a New Song,” features both classical and contemporary sacred and secular music, including works by René Clausen, Baldassare Galuppi, and Claude Debussy, as well as arrangements by Moses Hogan and Randall Thompson.

More than 50 North Park students will participate in the tour, representing the University’s undergraduate and graduate music programs, conducted by Dr. Julia Davids, director of choral activities and Stephen J. Hendrickson Assistant Professor of Music, and accompanied by Myron Silberstein. For student musicians, tours provide important performance experience, an opportunity to build close relationships with fellow vocalists and faculty members, and a refreshing perspective on music.

“As a vocalist, touring is something that should be essential,” said Ellie Weihsmann, a first-year music education major and alto in the University Choir. She also participates in a student worship team that leads services on campus. “When you can travel to see other places and perform for other people, it provides a different atmosphere and outlook on why you sing and what you love about singing for others.”

“This choir tour will offer undergrads and grad students alike more than a refreshing dose of ‘Minnesota nice,’” said Josh Pritchett, a master of music in vocal performance student who will graduate this May. He sings with both the University Choir and Chamber Singers, and has participated in North Park’s opera program. “I find that these tours offer valuable bonding time for students. Many of us are music students, but there are non-music majors, as well, which makes fellowship with other choristers hard to achieve during the school year.”

For both Weihsmann and Pritchett, the Minnesota destination for the tour brings the particular joy of returning home.

Originally from Duluth, Weihsmann’s family now lives near the Harris Covenant Church stop on the tour. “It is an honor to bring a piece of my college experience to my hometown,” she said. “Minnesota will always be “home” for me, and being able to share a piece of my current life in Chicago with my home is such a treat!”

“Minnesota has a special place in my heart,” Pritchett said. Growing up, he moved a number of times between Minnesota and Wisconsin before finally settling in Minnesota. “It is always a joy to return back home.”

The tour’s theme, “Sing a New Song,” comes from a piece the choirs will sing, “Sing Unto the Lord a New Song” by Srul Irving Glick (1934–2002). This contemporary Canadian composer was also a Jewish canter; his work sets Psalms to music in both Hebrew and English, moving seamlessly between contemporary and classical styles. The piece “juxtaposes new and old” in a unique, moving way, according to Davids.

Sing a New Song

The entire tour repertoire takes up this theme of exploring the journey between ‘new’ and ‘old,’ Davids said. She hopes this strikes close to home for choir members, and helps them reflect on their journey as students and into adulthood. “In so many ways, students evolve throughout their time at university,” she said. “They begin intending to do one thing and may end up doing something completely different.”

“These are not ‘ordinary’ pieces that an ‘ordinary’ choir will be singing,” said Weihsmann. “These pieces are heartfelt and brilliant, and being sung by students who have a lot of passion for what they do.”

While more well known in Canada, Glick’s compositions are less familiar to American audiences. “I think it’s part of the job of a university touring group like ours to bring something new and balance it with what audiences are more familiar with,” Davids said.

According to Pritchett, this tour offers a wide variety of music to audiences, “from 20th century Hebrew to gospel infused choral pieces. What I’m looking forward to singing are three “Ave Maria” pieces, one of which was composed by our own piano professor, Thomas W. Jefferson.”

The tour will begin with a Friday evening concert at Winnetka Covenant Church in Wilmette, Ill., before the group heads to Minnesota. There, they will perform evening concerts at four churches, as well as participate in Sunday morning worship services at Salem Covenant Church in New Brighton. The group will conclude the tour with an afternoon concert at Covenant Village in Golden Valley. All performances are free and open to the public:

  • Saturday, March 8, 7:00 pm, at Redeemer Covenant Church, Brooklyn Park
  • Sunday, March 9, 8:30, 9:50, and 11:00 am, at Salem Covenant Church, New Brighton
  • Sunday, March 9, 6:00 pm, at Lakeview Covenant Church, Duluth
  • Monday, March 10, 7:00 pm, at Harris Covenant Church, Harris
  • Tuesday, March 11, 7:00 pm, at Bethlehem Covenant Church, Minneapolis
  • Wednesday, March 12, 12:30 pm, at Covenant Village, Golden Valley

On Tuesday, March 11, the ensembles will visit Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis to conduct a choral workshop for young singers. The choirs will collaborate with the high schoolers to sing “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” during a chapel service. 

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