How is Northeastern University for MIS

"Sit back, relax and enjoy your ride"

Photo: Performance of Anton Bruckner's "Os Iusti" with 130 singers from Mississippi in the "Auguste Ford Center for the performing Arts" © Andrea Pfestorf-Janke

The Webern Chamber Choir of the mdw followed the mdw call for international projects with its project "Choral Bridges" and went on a major American tour.

There were no semester breaks for the Webern Chamber Choir of the mdw and Johannes Hiemetsberger in February 2016 - and for good reason: the realization of their own "American Dream" took place in a very unusual way: Sit back, relax and enjoy jour ride - this invitation from Bus driver Bernard at Memphis Airport should become the motto for the entire trip.

Ole Miss

The 12-day tour took the ensemble to three different large universities: The first was the return visit to the Ole Miss, the University of Mississippi on the program - the Concert Choir there, under the direction of Donald Trott, was a guest of the Webern Chamber Choir in the summer of 2014. For the first time, the students were able to experience how one of the large, private campus universities works. In addition to the incredible sports facilities (the Ole Miss is famous for its football team and has, among other things, a stadium for over 60,000 spectators on its premises), that was especially impressive Auguste Ford Center for the Performing Arts (the concert hall of the Ole Miss) with over 1,000 seats.

In addition to their own program, a very special start was the joint performance of Anton Bruckners Os Iusti with the 130 singers from Mississippi.

Johannes Hiemetsberger worked on the Ole Miss with eight invited college choirs and held a workshop about The Austrian way of doing at the University's Choral Department. In addition, left a wonderful concert in the St. John's Episcopal Church in Memphis, Tennesse, where the audience was also allowed to sing, an enthusiastic audience.

University of Illinois

Second stop: the University of Illinois (UoI) in Urbana, Illinois. Johannes Hiemetsberger worked there with Andrew Megill's choir conducting students on Johann Sebastian Bach's motet Jesus my joy. A large choir-orchestra concert together with the University Concert Choir of the UoI was also on the program. An important focus was to forge the two different ensembles into one large choir, the result delighted a full hall to standing ovations.

Photo: Concert at McKinley Presbyterian Church on the University of Illinois campus © Andrea Pfestorf-Janke

The UoI functions in the project Choral Bridges As a strategic partner of the mdw, this stay was particularly characterized by joint actions by students from both faculties - also with a view to May 2017, when a return visit by Andrew Megill's students will deepen the cooperation. Here, too, a huge university-owned event venue impressed Krannert Center for the Performing Arts with its concert hall, a theater and various smaller performance venues.

North Western University

The end point of the trip was - spatially speaking - Chicago. Our students were warmly welcomed to the Bees School of Music by the BCE Ensemble from North Western University in Evanston, Illinois. Particularly impressive was the new concert hall there with a glass back wall that reveals a view of Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline, as well as the short concert by the ensemble under the direction of Donald Nally, which performed part of its ACDA program for the guests from Vienna .

Photo: Conducting workshop by Alois Glaßner with students from Donald Nally © Andrea Pfestorf-Janke

The next day the Webern Chamber Choir acted as the studio choir for a conducting workshop by Alois Glaßner, who gave Donald Nally's students a lot of valuable impulses.

American Choral Directors Association (ACDA)

After a detour to Carthage College in Southern Wisconsin - where the ensemble gave a concert for students of music education - the artistic climax of the trip approached: The Webern Chamber Choir was invited to this year's conference of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) to give a concert.

The performance in front of around 500 American choirmasters was rewarded with great applause and standing ovations. The program for the US choir scene included rather "exotic" works by Webern, Brahms, Ligeti and Länger as well as alpine folk songs.

The following day the choir said goodbye to the ACDA Conference, Chicago and many of the new friends as studio choir for Alois Glaßner's workshop Interpreting and understanding Romantic German Choral Repertoire with Franz Schuberts Holy, holy, holy - and the awareness that you have experienced something very special: Exchange with a culture that you think you know, but which is different in many respects than you thought. An artistic experience that won't come back like this - and how lucky it is to be able to make music as a group at the highest level.

Text: Andrea Pfestorf-Janke

The article appears in the Kunsträume issue # 2-2016.