Menomonie, Wis. – Soon, one of the oldest churches in San Juan, Puerto Rico, will be ringing with the voices of 17 University of Wisconsin-Stout singers.
In their upcoming tour, the Chamber Choir will perform with Coralia, the top choir at the University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras campus. The concert will be held on Sunday, March 13, at Parroquia Nuestra Señora del Pilar, Rio Piedra parish in San Juan.
The Chamber Choir will share a selection from its fall 2021 concert, “To Gather, Together.”
“The music celebrates the joy of gathering and the power of human connection,” said Director of Choral Activities Jerry Hui, associate professor of performing arts and program director of arts administration and entrepreneurship.
Hui orchestrated the tour with University of Puerto Rico’s Choir Director Carmen Acevedo. Their choirs will sing one song together: “Peace I Leave with You” by American composer Amy Beach. They will practice together when UW-Stout students arrive in San Juan.
The Chamber Choir will also perform at Hilton Dorado Del Mar Beach Resort, with a date to be determined.
Their tour will be from Thursday, March 10 to Wednesday, March 16, with opportunities to explore Puerto Rico, including a group tour of El Yunque National Forest, a kayaking trip at a bioluminescent bay and a walking visit to Historic Old San Juan.
UW-Stout’s spring break is the same week.
Donors help make tour possible
Donors may support the choir’s tour and future student opportunities by making a gift to the University Choir General Fund.
The fund, under the supervision of the Stout University Foundation, supports student learning opportunities, travel, commissions for new music and other artistic endeavors by UW-Stout choirs, including the Chamber Choir, Devil Tones Acappella and Symphonic Singers.
The students feel grateful to Hui for his dedication and planning, as well as to donors who are helping to make their tour possible.
Charlie Peavey, an entertainment design student from Minneapolis, has been involved in choir all five years he’s been at UW-Stout, as a member of all three choirs. The trip is a dream come true for him, as he graduates this spring with minors in the performing arts and Spanish.
“This trip to Puerto Rico will be the perfect adventure to finish both of these journeys,” he said. “Choir has been incredibly important to me – the community and lasting friendships I have found, the confidence I’ve built through performance and the catharsis of just singing out all the stress of school definitely have had a huge impact on my success as a student, as well as personally.”
Abbie Aasen, a first-year psychology student from Menomonie, has never been outside of the continental U.S. “It’s honestly surreal I’m able to go on a trip this amazing in my first year of college. It makes me so excited about all of the other opportunities that I will get as I progress through the music program at Stout,” she said. “It’s even more fun that I’m able to travel with such an amazing group. Our choir is one of the most tight knit groups that I’ve ever been a part of, and I like to think of us as a little family.”
M.S. school counseling graduate student Krista Matthews-Saugstad agrees. “It truly is so special to travel with a group you’ve been working closely with to create something beautiful and then showcase that in a completely new setting.”
Choir has always been an important part of Matthews-Saugstad’s life. She feels the tour offers the choir a bonding experience. “It also empowers students to grow individually, simply by being a part of the process,” she said.
The Chamber Choir and the Blue Devil Jazz Project visited five cities in mainland China in 2016, on an international tour partially supported by a grant from the U.S. State Department. The Chamber Choir and Symphonic Singers’ last domestic tour was in 2019, when they visited Madison, Janesville, New Lisbon and Springfield, Ill.
“It feels unreal to be traveling again,” Hui said. “Students are excited about the opportunity to visit new places, share music with new audiences and create life-changing memories with each other.”
UW-Stout is Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University, with a focus on applied learning, collaboration with business and industry, and career outcomes.