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LEWISBURG, Pa. —Bucknell's 38-member Rooke Chapel Choir recently completed a four-city tour of the Czech Republic and Poland, marking two decades of spring concert performances at home and abroad.
(Read Jessica and Page's first-person perspectives of this year's Chapel Choir tour.)
William Payn, professor of music and director of choral studies, began the spring tour program in 1984 with a trip to England and Wales. Since then, the choir's travels have included Italy, Croatia, Costa Rica, Holland, West Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, and Austria.
Payn said that on each trip the choir learns to perform a piece in the language of the country they visit. "Italian and Spanish are easy," he said. "Polish was definitely a challenge. The students were dubious, but we were told their pronunciation was beautiful."
Everywhere they have traveled in the past 20 years, said Payn, "the audiences absolutely love hearing Afro-American spirituals," and the choir always performs traditional spirituals and folk hymns. This year's concert also included a section devoted to Bucknell composers — David Tomasacci '06 and music professors William Duckworth, Jackson Hill, and Payn.
Emily Yoder '06, one of two tour managers responsible for marketing the tours performed in Prague and Wroclaw, Poznan, and Warsaw, Poland, said, "Singing in centuries-old cathedrals just does not compare to any other feeling in the world. The music seems more alive in those spaces — as if it was written to be sung there."
Payn plans to retire in six years and has already begun arranging the 2012 tour with venues in Budapest, Vienna, and Prague. The tour will be open to all chapel choir alumni, partners, and spouses. Payn also hopes to perform a work with full orchestra at each site.
"Singing with the Rooke Chapel Choir was one of the most influential experiences of my Bucknell career, and I will miss it tremendously," said Yoder. "But I am certainly looking forward to the alumni tour."
Posted June 29, 2006
The Rooke Chapel Choir in an impromtu museum performance in Poland.