Last post from the trip. What an experience. Today was a great balance of music, sightseeing, and special moments. The morning started with rehearsal underneath Southwark Cathedral in London followed by a tour of the cathedral. During rehearsal, Mrs. Herrington had the choir reflect on what they learned and what was important to them from the trip. They then hummed their way through Praise His Holy Name, with Mrs. Boers and Mr. Brizuela providing some inspiringly competent beat-boxing as accompaniment.
The concert was a fitting musical close to the trip. The choir sang extremely well again, and all held hands during Blessing in a moving show of unity at the close to the concert.
In the afternoon we got some final sightseeing in, with a tour of London, including going inside the Tower of London, seeing Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and of course many filming locations from Harry Potter, such as Gringots Bank, the bridge the death eaters destroyed, etc.
In the evening, we had a delicious final dinner with 31 parents and family members in attendance. The choir sang I’ll be Seeing You as a final farewell before we hopped on the bus. Back at the hotel, as the last official moment of the trip with all choir members present (some are staying in Europe with their families), the entire choir packed into a tiny board room for some final thanks and announcements. Shoulder to shoulder, tight as sardines, everyone sang Blessing.
It’s been an honor traveling with TYC over the past couple weeks. I could not be more grateful for the experience I’ve had and appreciative of the truly gifted staff that put together, supported, and chaperoned this trip. Most importantly, the kids have been so amazing in every way. Parents, grandparents, friends, and extended families: you’ve done an unbelievable job of helping shape each and every TYC kid into an extremely impressive young adult. Everyone thinks of chaperoning as a job, but with this group it’s truly been a privilege. I look forward to seeing everyone at TYC events in the future.
And since this experience is about the kids, I’ll give them the last word. The following are their final reflections on the trip and their experience in TYC overall:
The Tacoma Youth Chorus tour has been an amazing experience. It was such an amazing opportunity and I’m so glad I got to participate. Although it may be close to being over, I will always have the relationships I have formed. Even though some of these people I have connected with will be going off to college, this TYC tour has helped me form bonds that may have never come into existence. I’ve been in TYC since the third grade and it has always been such a big part of my life. TYC has helped me grow as a singer but more importantly as a person. I’m looking forward spending the next years until I graduate as a member of this community. TYC will always be a part of me even after I’ve graduated but I still have a couple years until I graduate. I can’t imagine what it’s like for the seniors and the emotion that is brought with it. This tour has brought me much closer to many people from getting to know those who I hadn’t or becoming best friends with a former mentor. Tacoma Youth Chorus will always be part of me and I’m looking forward to the next tour and the people I will meet.
– Grant I
When I first started Tacoma Youth Chorus, I didn’t think that I would like it as much as I did. I joined when I had first heard of the opportunity to travel to Europe as part of their tour. Taking any opportunity to go to Europe, I immediately signed up for the audition, trying to prepare for it over the summer but of course, with my luck, I caught a horrible fever that left me with a voice similar to that of a dying parakeet. Thankfully, Mrs. Herrington somehow let me in; I couldn’t even hear my own voice. But I still remember when I walked in, ready to fail because what came out when I tried to sing resembled a parakeet’s last breath, Mrs. Herrington greeted me and worked though with the awful notes. It was this understanding and perseverance that has impressed me so much through these past years. As I am rounding up on my last concert with TYC, I am truly thankful for the opportunity to not only work with such amazing and talented people, but also to appreciate the work and details that go into any piece of art.
Traveling throughout Europe, I have gone through so much, physically and emotionally. While I am nursing my blisters from breaking in my new Birkenstocks that were found in a cute shoe store in Wangen, the awe and wonder struck me in every new place that we visited. The mannerisms and culture that each place embodied has made each place so distinct and memorable. The rich history of Europe that most of the United States lacks envelopes me in the intricate details in the gorgeous cathedrals that sing back to us. Many of my days and nights blurred together as we transferred from country to country in almost an instant. What started out as a looming twelve days transformed into the last couple of hours ticking down to our flight back home. As I sit here on the coach with freezing air blowing into my face while roasting heat threatens to burn my feet, the rolling hills of Ulm turn into the glistening Lake Constance and finally into towering buildings of London.
Yes, I am looking forward to seeing my friends and family, being able to use my phone whenever I want to, and real still water that doesn’t taste of minerals. And yet I am still somber and hesitant in leaving the sweet fruit stand owner who gave us ripe blueberries, the adorable older women who asked us to sign their programs, and the best bus driver and tour guide in all of Europe. As I head home with a soon-to-be overweight suitcase filled with melted German chocolate and way too many (cute) clothes, this experience will be forever unmatched by anything else.
To my fellow singers: thank you for sharing your talent and gift of music with everyone on tour as well as those who took time out of their busy lives to come listen to our concerts. From singing Will the Circle while attempting the complicated German folk dancing we learned earlier that day, singing Ubi Caritas in the crypt, to joining hands in Blessing; thank you for all the memories that can only be found in Europe.
To the chaperones: sorry for being obnoxious and forgetful and needing too many bandaids for my blisters from uncomfortable shoes. Your energy and love for the songs transformed our experience in the reverberating cathedrals.
To the parents: thank you for the endless support and love that you have given us that we often take for granted. Special thanks to those who came to fill the seats in our concerts and representing the encouragement from those parents sending their love a thousand miles away.
To the people: a thousand thanks for the hospitality and genuine interest that you have shown each and every one of us. To the strangers who have become an integral part of our experience, we will forever treasure the hand shakes after our concerts and the beautiful cities you have shared with us.
– Alicia Z (Graduating Senior)
As my time with this tour comes to a close I have been struggling with how to convey how much this experience has meant to me. To get the chance to go out into the world as an individual and as part of a whole with a group of such amazing people has been the time of a lifetime. I have never felt so close, connected, and invested in such a large group of people. I have made so many new friendships and strengthened existing ones over the past two weeks and I know that I will carry them through my life.
On top of this to be able to experience this all through music was simply incredible. To be able to sing in places with such history was something that I will always cherish. I am so glad that I had the chance to share my music with those old spaces and strangers from new lands and I hope we have made a lasting mark.
Lastly thank you to Mrs Herrington who has guided me through the past years and helped to teach me how to be a better musician and through that a better person. Also thank you to Martha who put so much effort into this, Cassidy for being an amazing guide/tour mom/and person, and Mrs. Boers and Mr. Brizuela for their guidance and laughter! And of course I can’t not mention the amazing Tassos (I hope I spelled that right!) for being an amazing and talented tour guide!!
– Ellye S
I could not think of a better capstone to my time at TYC. This tour has been such a fantastic experience, getting to explore gorgeous parts of the world, sing beautiful music, and build friendships that will last a lifetime. Throughout my many years in TYC, my experience has always been threefold, significant for my relationship with God, my connection with the audience, and for myself. Music has always been the way by which I have most deeply connected with God. In singing timeless hymns and sacred texts, I am able to bring glory to the name of Jesus and more fully experience the freedom found in Christ. While on this trip in Europe, I have been able to praise God in cathedrals where His name has been uplifted for hundreds of years. I will never forget watching two women in the little white church in Strasbourg worshiping alongside us as we sang Verleih uns Frieden. We were able to praise the Lord together.
Which would bring me to my second significant piece of singing with TYC: Connecting with the audience. Mrs. Herrington has always made sure we understood that our music is a means to touch people’s lives. When people come to our concerts, we don’t know their stories or what is going on in their lives, but through music, we are able to speak hope and joy to their souls. While on tour, we have had a different audience every night, a different set of lives and stories walking through the door every time we got on stage. It has been such a blessing to me to be able to enter into the lives of so many people and touch them each in a unique way.
Finally, singing in TYC has been such an impactful experience for me. Music is the purest expression of the soul, and in singing in this choir I have felt such an incredible freedom and opportunity to express myself. On this trip, singing in the various cathedrals and churches has been breathtaking. I have loved allowing myself to fully dive into the music and get lost in the sound echoing through the arches. My time in TYC, culminating in this European tour, has been one of the highlights of my time in high school. Now that I have graduated, I will miss making music with you all on Tuesdays, but I look forward to reuniting soon. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
– Rylee P (Graduating Senior)
Time: 9:53 PM. Date: 19th of July, 2017.
The Tacoma Youth Chorus is on the road from Canterbury to London after a concert at St. Peter’s Methodist Church. How did it go? Let me paint a picture. It was hot. It was humid. Air conditioning came in the form of some windows slightly opened to allow for a sliver of a breeze to flow through the building. My calf started to cramp during our second song despite the ridiculous amount of water I’d been downing all day. The perfect ingredients for a soup of hot mess.
Except…something turned on somewhere, and we had: The. Performance. Of. Our. Lives. Where did it come from? It all started when heavy planning went into finding countries and churches to sing in (shoutout to Martha & Mrs. Herrington). Then at a meeting in the commons at Charles Wright, where the dates of the 2017 trip and cities were unveiled, the seed of anticipation was planted. It slowly built steam as people worked to pay for the trip. The grind began at the first tour practice, where *gulp* I learned we had a grand total of 11 men going on the tour. Then came the Farewell Concert and about three weeks until we all came back to shoulder the load and go all in for four straight days of practices. The Bon Voyage Concert was where we realised that we could accomplish so much in such condensed time.
We boarded a plane the Monday after the concert, and eventually we landed and we first meet our amazing tour guide, Tassos Strikos, who also plays the accordion, speaks German & French, does an amazing job with painting, and so much more. There was the challenges of Our Lady of Strasbourg Cathedral that swallowed our voices up, but we got through. Then there was the dinner where Jacob confused “germaphobe” with “dermatologist.” It was the next day at Eglise St. Guillaume, after some had gone (myself included, thanks Grant) on the children’s carousel, where everything began to click, the turning point when we began transforming from a group of singers with a director and pianist into a singular, cohesive group that worked as one.
Onwards to Ulm for a short recital (In Ulm, um Ulm und um Ulm herum) then Ehingen with a cozy (very cozy) bedroom arrangement. In Wangen, I took a selfie with a pig (statue) and Ben and I reenacted another statue. We also learned folk dancing, where on of the men their said, “We have adults come who are horrible at learning. You’re group is one of the best.” We all had a great time there, and we sang for them several songs that touched their hearts. Our next concert at the Liebfrauenkirche where Will cracked a joke while the women were practicing, which caused me to nearly choke on my water and I had to walk out, but not before taking off my really, really, squeaky shoes. Thanks Will for nearly making a fool of myself (that joke was killer). The performance was a killer, especially when Tassos hustled down from the balcony to translate “Blessing.” Then…Monday. It started out nice with a beautiful trip on Lake Constance and then a tearful auf wiedersehen to our bus driver Andre. And I took a selfie with a statue (cow).
But, like a singer that forgets to start breathing and losses the sound, it wore down everyone. Our plane to London was delayed an hour, then customs took over an hour to traverse through. Thankfully, Tassos had gone ahead and retrieved all our bags from the luggage carousel. The night was topped off with dinner at George Pub Wraysbury, 29 Windsor Road who at 11:00 PM still had our food ready to eat, and it was very scrumptious (please go rate them online and give 5 stars). The night ending with us crawling into bed and sleeping as soon as our heads hit the pillows.
The next day began the practices with David Flood, where we started our breath ridiculously early and remembered the first note. Despite our depth our tired, we made sounds that I never knew we possessed. Then we entered the hallowed grounds of Canterbury Cathedral, the centre of the Anglican Church. After lunch, the amazing Evensong service showcased Dr. Flood’s astounding choir with their limitless range. Afterwards, Dr. Flood retrieved the keys to the cathedral and gave us an exclusive tour of the cathedral, where he moved aside ropes, and we took pictures and sang Ubi Caritas in the crypt. Our voices rang off the walls and ceiling with such a beautiful sound.
Then came St. Peter’s Methodist Church. Wow. Everything came together. Our breathing. Our pitch. The first note. I felt like we all were one mind, one body, one being. It was just us, the pianist, and the director. We were all in a zone, we were all on a new level. The men sounded the best I’ve ever heard in my six years of Chorale. The women, of course, killed it. When the tenors hit “journey home” in “No Time,” I got chills everywhere. Then I saw Tassos in the back biting a plastic cup to help try fight back the tears. Oh man, I nearly lost it. When we got to “Blessing,” Tassos did finally break down, and John and I fought the dust in our eyes. After that concert, the most emotional, amazing, sensational, dramatic, heart rending, exciting, thrilling concept of my (and may others’) life, I lay in the grass, contemplating life. I’ll finish off with a quote from Tassos that basically summed up what I was thinking.
“What make me cry? Ideal perfection.” Tassos
Ideal perfection indeed.
– Joshua Ray A (Graduating Senior)
The impact that Tacoma Youth Chorus has had on my life could never in a million years be adequately put into words, so trying to write a reflection on this tour and my time in TYC is beyond difficult, especially on an emotional night like tonight. Through this organization, I’ve met my closest friends and mentors, grown into myself as a person, and was pointed toward the career in the arts I am now pursuing.
After 11 years as a singer, 4 years as a Chamber Choir mentor, and 2 previous tours, these last 10 days have been the crowning jewel of my experience with the wonderful organization. Traveling with this group of insanely talented and hardworking musicians has been the best possible way to conclude high school years and prepare for my next grand adventure.
Thank you to everyone who has supported me over the last 11 years. I am beyond excited to start my life as an alumni, but there will always be a hole in my week where TYC should be.
much love ALWAYS,
Elizabeth B (Graduating Senior)
* Southwark Cathedral
* London, England