The Choirs have been working nonstop for almost two years to gear up for this year’s major venture—Mesoamerica Tour! On January 6th, the Chorus and Glee Club, comprising of over 100 singers, embark on an international, musical and cultural expedition like none of the current members have yet to experience: three weeks of sharing music in a variety of venues and contexts throughout Guatemala and Mexico. Our performances range from school and community workshops to collaborative concerts with university choirs and a professional orchestra.
We consider ourselves fortunate to be in the Chorus and Glee Club at this momentous point in time; to be able to plan and execute an undertaking on this order of magnitude takes strong organizational memory and camaraderie. I’m pleased and humbled to be working on this major project with a wonderful team of students—we call ourselves the Tour Team. The four of us (myself, Co-International Tour Manager Nathan Kashdan ’18, Alumni Affairs Officer Jacob Cohen ’16, and Assistant General Manager Adam Proch ’17) have been through quite the journey up to this point, as our plans are finally unfolding for this incredible opportunity to spread our music and continue to strengthen musical, organizational, and social bonds between the Chorus and Glee Club.
Our tour begins in Antigua, Guatemala, where we aim to engage with the community through school workshops and open performances. We have the privilege of performing at La Merced de Antigua, a historic Catholic church and an architectural masterpiece. To broaden our Antigua experience, singers will also have the opportunity to tour a local coffee farm and hike a volcano! Next we move to relaxing Cancun, where the choirs have time to relax on the beaches. Historic Mayan ruin site Chichen Itza is a stop along the way to the culturally rich city of Merida, which hosts a month-long international music festival every January: MeridaFest! This festival presents a great opportunity for us to engage with local choirs and orchestras along our journey to spread music.
After a long drive along the Gulf Coast with a pit stop in Villahermosa and a collaborative university concert in Puebla, our journey inevitably takes us to Mexico City, where we will work with the choral program at a local university to present a community-oriented performance. Huge strides have been made in networking with Cornell alumni currently residing in Mexico City; we are working with Alumni Affairs here on the Hill to coordinate an official Mexico City Cornell Club kickoff event! With this event, we hope to engage with our alumni, many of whom have contributed much towards this tour, and to strengthen the university’s ties with its strong alumni base there.
Naturally, the tour concludes with a bang! I am pleased to announce that we will be collaborating with the Xalapa Symphony Orchestra—Mexico’s finest—to perform and record Roberto Sierra’s Cantares, which the Chorus and Glee Club commissioned last year in honor of Cornell’s 150th anniversary. After our world premiere performance at Carnegie Hall with the American Symphony Orchestra this past April, it’ll be a thrill and an honor to prepare the piece once again for an audience in a completely different realm of the world. Music must be powerful if it can unite people—and keep them connected—in a way that is undeterred by geography, time, or cultural differences. This tour is historically unprecedented in so many ways; the Chorus has never visited this region of the world, and although the Glee Club visited Mexico in 1954, neither group has seen Guatemala. Mesoamerica tour presents an incredible opportunity for the current members of the Chorus and Glee Club to spread our music and to experience the world in a broader sense—especially for the Chorus, since it’s rare that we are able to embark on a tour of international scope. For more information and media outlining each stop along tour, please visit the Chorus Webpage featuring our summer email series, “Getting To Know Mesoamerica.”
Amy Penick ‘17