A Georgia Baptist Institution
Updates from Italy: May 19-28, 2008
I had to think a little to figure out what my most memorable Italy experience was. The entire trip changed my life. I have never been out of the country, nor has anyone in my immediate family.
My most fond memory of Italy was singing the Chorale’s special song, “When I Survey The Wondrous Cross,” under a crucifix. The song took on a whole new meaning to me. As a Southern Baptist institution, we are not used to all the symbology that Catholics use. However, seeing all the beautiful cathedrals and understanding what the symbols mean made Christianity that much more real to me. “When I Survey” has always held a special place in my heart, but nothing can compare to singing the beautiful lyrics of that hymn while looking at the crucifix—a symbol of Jesus pouring out his heart for me.
~ Jonathan Parks, rising junior in piano performance and musical keyboard and conducting in musical theatre
The choir tour with the Shorter Chorale in Italy was definitely an experience of a lifetime! The sights were gorgeous and the guided tours were very informative! However, at the very beginning of the trip, the importance and magnitude of what the Chorale was about to embark that week didn't hit me until we rehearsed outside St. Mark's Basilica in Venice the very first day in Italy.
As the Chorale accompanist, Dr. Shaw allowed me the privilege of accompanying the Chorale on organ during the Mass. This was a definite cornerstone of my musical career that was an amazing and life-changing experience for me. There was no opportunity to rehearse on the organ beforehand, so the first time playing the organ was in the actual performance. Unlike the piano, you cannot just sit down and play the organ, you have to set specific registrations or "sound colors" to make the organ sound.
While participating in the service, before I expected it, the music director who was guiding the Chorale through the service as best he could (despite the language barrier) is pushing me onto the organ bench and motioning for me to start the introduction for the piece. Luckily, he knew the piece and set the registrations for me while I was playing. Between the music director changing registrations for me on the right side, the organist at St. Peter’s turning pages from the left, the beautiful singing of the Chorale behind me, and the very room in which we were performing, it was just a constant emotional crescendo all the way through the piece.
Towards the end of the piece, the music director crouches down, reaches in front of my legs and depresses the crescendo pedal on the organ all the way open making the organ sound at its full capacity, or "tutti". The full organ combined with the rich and full voices of the choir creates a majestic sound, the kind of sound that you feel in your bones, that I will never forget the rest of my life.
As I released the last chord on the organ, counting the 5-7 seconds of reverberation in my head, the realization that the peak of my musical career thus far had just been reached started to set in. I thank God for allowing me to have an experience such as this at such a young age, and I will feel privileged if I have anymore even close to this one.
- Justin Maxey, rising junior organ performance major
There is no way that I could define a specific moment of this trip that I treasure most, because this entire trip was life changing! There were so many once-in-a-lifetime opportunities I was able to experience, such as singing Mass at the Vatican and St. Mark's Cathedral, touring though and seeing numerous Italian cities, and getting to do it all with friends I love. These are moments and places I may never see or experience ever again, and getting to have those special moments while at Shorter really made this experience memorable.
There was not one moment of this trip that was not life-changing. Not only did we have the opportunity to go to so many wonderful places in Italy, but we got to share our music with many people. The most important thing I learned on this trip was that music really is a universal language. One of our first concerts was part of a choir festival in which we sang with two other choirs. After the concert was over, many members of the other choirs came up to members of the Chorale, and without hardly saying anything, expressed to us the beauty of our music. To get to make beautiful music with people I love in beautiful places was the best thing I could have ever asked for.
| SHORTER UNIVERSITY • 315 Shorter Avenue • Rome, Georgia 30165 • Phone: 800-868-6980 • www.shorter.edu
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