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Marquette Chorus invited to sing in London

Photo+courtesy+of+Mark+Konewko
Photo courtesy of Mark Konewko

Photo courtesy of Mark Konewko

Photo courtesy of Mark Konewko

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Marquette University Chorus’s performance of “Nonsense Songs” in Spring 2014 helped bring about an idea that would expand the group’s boundaries for performance.

Because of that concert, Marquette Chorus received an invitation to travel to London.

Mark Konewko, the director of the University Chorus, had a friend living in London who listened to the concert and enjoyed what she heard. She was the connection from London to Marquette.

In Konewko’s six years of directing the chorus, the group has only traveled domestically, including trips to Chicago and the White House.

Konewko said if the group is able to recruit enough singers to go on the trip, they will sing “Nonsense Songs” in London. The composer, Liza Lehmann, is originally from London.

“That combination of bringing (‘Nonsense Songs’) to London just made sense,” Konewko said. “Plus, I think the (University Chorus) class is really designed for observing the differences between diction and vocal pronunciation between the United Kingdom and America.”

Furthermore, the choir will sing several other pieces written by American composers. Konewko said that he is considering pieces by Daniel Pinkham, R. Nathaniel Dett and Amy Beach for the chorus to perform, but nothing is set in stone quite yet.

There is a possibility that the choir will be able to sit in on rehearsals with the professional and local London choral groups, BBC Chorus and The King’s Singers. Observing rehearsals and performances will hopefully inspire the MU chorus members for their own performance.

“The idea is to sit in on these rehearsals and listen to how they’re done,” Konewko said.

After that, according to Konewko, the choir will observe similar performances by other professional groups.

The choir is taking applications until Oct. 1 for students who want to travel to London. Students who have never been in choir before and can sing are able to travel with the choir, but students must be enrolled in University Chorus for the spring 2017 semester.

The group is looking for a minimum of 30 members to travel to London. However, the cost of the trip is a concern for many of the 60 current choir members.

Chandler MacSwain, a senior in the College of Communication and the external communications director for the chorus, has been a member of MU Chorus for four years. He said he is unsure if he is able to go on the trip because of the cost. However, he was enthusiastic about the expedition.

“It’s going to be a really nice experience for everyone involved,” MacSwain said.

Going to London will require more preparation than typical campus-based concerts. However, MacSwain said that the extra rehearsals will be worth it.

“There’s a sense of excitement about (the trip) because it’s unique,” MacSwain said.

MacSwain said that it will also give the choir an opportunity to grow as a whole and improve.

“It’s going to get the Marquette name out there, especially internationally,” MacSwain said.

The group is doing several fundraisers for the cause, and is hoping that Marquette University Student Government will help cover some costs.

Brian Vargas, a sophomore in the College of Health Sciences and vice president and event coordinator of MU Chorus, said that the trip will have an academic side to it, similar to studying abroad. The group will do some reading before the trip.

Vargas said because chorus counts for one course credit, and students learn and prepare something for a final performance, it’s as close to a class as one can get. He hopes that MUSG will be willing to provide funds because of this reason.

Vargas is excited about the potential trip for similar reasons to MacSwain. Vargas believes MU Chorus will be able to have a greater outreach than just the Milwaukee area and learn some techniques from the professional singers as a result.

Moreover, Vargas liked the appeal of getting away from Wisconsin.

“Anywhere in London is better than Marquette Hall 300,” Vargas said. “It would be a really nice privilege to have.”

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