CVA’s Chamber Choir and Jazz Ensemble traveled to Washington DC April 14-17 to perform and tour many of the Capitol’s sites.
Student response to event-packed trip led CVA vocal teacher Mark Bunce to think about future trips.
“Their behavior onstage, during tours and downtime, exceeded our high expectations,” he said.
“They chose to be participants in everything, making this was more than a ‘field trip.’ This was a learning experience that they will never forget.”
The groups performed at three venues:
- World War II Memorial. Facing the Washington Monument and Capitol with the fountains and Lincoln Memorial as a backdrop, the music’s meaning came alive for the performers and the audience.
- Fairfax Retirement Home for Distinguished Military personnel. The crowd stood at attention during the Armed Forces Salute, bringing many of the students to tears.
- St. Andrews Church. The Chamber Choir performed during and after a church service. The church provided 50 Subway lunches as a thank you.
When the groups were not busy performing they toured many of Washington’s famous sites and memorials, including the FDR, Jefferson, Korean, Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Vietnam, and World War II memorials, the Capitol Visitor’s Center, Holocaust Museum, Library of Congress, Supreme Court, the Smithsonian Air and Space, American History, Native American Indian, and Natural History museums.
Another highlight was a tour of Arlington National Cemetery where they saw Arlington House, the Challenger Memorial, and the Eternal Flame. They watched the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and took part in a wreath laying ceremony, placing a wreath with Central Valley Academy on the ribbon at the memorial.
The students also attended a concert of high school instrumentalists at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. They later toured the Kennedy Center and the choir sang impromptu on the center terrace.
The Chamber Choir, under the direction of Mark Bunce, performed 13 selections of patriotic music and texts from American wars including The Gettysburg Address, In Flanders Fields, We Shall Overcome, Tribute to the Armed Services, and I Hear America Singing (a patriotic medley with quotes by famous Americans).
The Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Michael Fenton, performed five selections by Duke Ellington, including Satin Doll, Take the “A” Train, and other to honor DC native Ellington.
Mr. Bunce said the most impressive part of the trip was the students.
“They were on time for everything. They asked questions, and were polite, saying thank you to tour guides, bus drivers, their directors, and chaperones,” he said.
“They never went to a mall and dealt calmly when hotel rules forced changes in the itinerary and curfew.”
Both music teachers expressed their thanks to chaperones Elizabeth Kiehl, Sara Green, Kristina Prokopienko and John Krause from Herkimer High School.
Mr. Bunce was also impressed with the students’ reactions to the trip.
“Their favorite concert was at the Fairfax because they understood their purpose and conveyed that in their performance,” he said.
“When I polled the choir students on their favorite piece, every selection came up at least once. More surprising was their newfound respect for more traditional patriotic songs such as The Gettysburg Address, We Shall Overcome (with Lean on Me), Who Are the Brave? and A Tribute to the Armed Services.