Sophie Arzumanov ‘21
A couple of weeks ago, the Chorus went on its annual retreat to Vestal United Methodist Church. Before we departed Ithaca, I remember feeling like the school year was moving so quickly; the new members of the Chorus were already starting to feel integrated, our Homecoming Concert was a only week away, and I already had a prelim in my Electromagnetism class coming up. However, I decided to commit myself to letting all of those thoughts and concerns go and simply becoming immersed in our repertoire and our community.
This was only my second retreat, so my first one is still relatively fresh. I remember that in my freshman year, I thought retreat was a little scary. I already felt behind in my classes, I barely knew these people, and I definitely was still adjusting to living at Cornell; how could I commit an entire weekend to singing faraway? However, after going through it, I knew that the experience had the potential to foster amazing relationships in the group. With my freshman-year apprehensions in mind, I wanted to ensure that I contributed to creating a positive environment so the new members could feel comfortable and grow into the group.
With this mindset and goal, coupled with my experience in the Chorus community, my time on retreat this weekend was, well, truly a retreat – a refuge, a haven, a sanctuary. This time around, I felt particularly connected with the music. This included the technical stamina that our repertoire demands this year, as well as the emotional meaning behind many of the pieces. I also felt more connected with the spirit of our activities. I felt that I was able to open up more – Maggie Lin and Alexis Waite did an amazing job being our Game Masters, and really facilitated an open and fun environment for us this year. Even the skits made a great impact on me; now that I have spent a year in the Chorus, the inside jokes resonated with me more. It felt great to poke fun at ourselves, and to laugh after a long day of rehearsal.
This retreat was very special to me; I came back to campus feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Our Sunday performances were especially moving this year. The community at the Vestal United Methodist Church really does welcome us with open arms, and I am happy to participate in their reflective services and share our music with them. I also came back with a sense of purpose for myself within the Chorus; I am a sophomore now, and I am ready to step up as a leader and encourage others around me to grow as well. I feel closer to the new members and even with some returning members, and I am so happy that this retreat made me so excited for the future of the Chorus.