Thirty-seven students from the Bowdoin Chamber Choir traveled for 10 days through Hungary, Slovakia and Austria over spring break. Led by choir director Robert Greenlee, the group performed in venues that included lofty churches and old schools, singing music written by well-known composers from the countries they visited.
Following the choir’s performances, audience members would regularly approach the performers to express how much they enjoyed hearing the students sing music from their own country, according to Greenlee. “Whenever we take these trips, the music fosters such a desire among the audience to interact with the students,” he marveled. “The highlight for me was that everywhere we went, we found a very appreciative audience, people who love music.”
The choir sang pieces by Franz Liszt, ZoltÃ¡n KodÃ¡ly, Franz Joseph Haydn, Franz Schubert, Anton Bruckner, BÃ©la BartÃ³k and more. Bowdoin artist-in-residence George Lopez played piano for the choir, with help from his daughter Maya, who turned pages for him.
Besides giving six concerts, the Bowdoin group squeezed in some sightseeing. They visited, for example, the parliament building in Budapest, SchÃ¶nbrunn Palace in Vienna, and a ranch in Hungary where some students went horseback riding. Greenlee said the musical highlights from the trip included singing with a choir from a Hungarian music school and performing at a school for the blind.
In the past Bowdoin’s chamber choir has toured Germany, France, Ireland, Great Britain, Puerto Rico, Chile, Ecuador, Canada and different parts of the United States. For future trips, Greenlee says he’s considering bringing students to South Africa and Brazil.