From December 7-19 I had the wonderful opportunity to tour and sing across Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland with the Dartmouth Handel Society touring ensemble, directed by Dr. Robert Duff.
The experience of visiting the Baltics for the first time in my life was very powerful. After taking a course on Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia a little over a year ago, the Soviet influence on these countries becomes even more clear than it already is. I learned about Estonia's singing revolution... makes me wonder if they ever thought of filling Tallinn's singing grounds with holograms of those who lost their lives fighting for independence in a tribute performance?
Also, as someone who is always thinking about space in regards to performance - thanks to a professor that inspires me everyday, Dr. Carmen Helena Tellez, I am reading 'Performing Mixed Reality' from MIT Press.. - seeing the for-30,000 performers outdoor stage was really something.
On the subject of space and acoustics, we had the chance to sing concerts in churches found in Tallinn, Sigulda, Riga, Vilnius, Kaunas, Krakow, and Wieliczka (the program image below outlines specifics).
Each space's acoustic character posed different opportunities and challenges. On the tour I had the lovely chance to be the soprano soloist for Stephen Paulus' Road Home and I remember in Vilnius being positioned diagonally to the choir, singing towards the arches of one of the transepts.
Traveling allows us to learn - it exposes us to different customs, foods, habit, styles.. and what better way to do it than to also make beautiful music for others? The repertoire we performed included, among other, Pärt, Esenvalds, de Victoria, Ticheli, arr. by Craig Hella Jonson, and Lauridsen.
On the tour I also visited Auschwitz for the first time. After completely falling for Primo Levi and creating a tribute, production, and research catalogue, I can't properly describe what it was like to visit the camp he survived, he camp he so powerfully described in his Se questo e` un uomo. There were other choir members on tour whose grandparents and direct family had been through the camps...
This tour instilled a closer sense of community with our ensemble, and - beyond that - instilled further inspiration and creative energy within me!