Mesoamerica Tour 2016
June 3rd, 2016
When I walked into my audition for the Cornell University Chorus, I had no idea I was also walking into a host of professional and travel opportunities. I had no intentions of visiting Central America in the foreseeable future, let alone of making travel arrangements for a hundred musical people. When the choirs began brainstorming this project at the end of my freshman year, it was merely a concept with good intentions. What a privilege it has been to follow this tour from conception to reality, and to witness the support that carried us through it all.
Every concert and outreach event was a success. Some, like the packed La Merced de Antigua, and the midday performance at Anahuac University, where the folks there arranged a healthy audience and a livestream recording on our behalf, went especially well. In particular, our performance with the Xalapa Symphony Orchestra was some of the Chorus and Glee Club’s finest work, and I am pleased to announce that the recording sessions with the orchestra went superbly! I’m eager to hear the outcome of such a serendipitous collaborative effort.
Throughout Guatemala and Mexico, we sang for some pretty incredible audiences, spellbound schoolchildren, and unsuspecting churchgoers alike. The audiences in these countries were different than the American audiences we’re accustomed to—even despite the language barrier, these people were noticeably more engaged in our performances than we expected them to be. Bearing witness to cultural differences like these was part of what forged this experience into a powerful, memorable one. For some singers, this tour revived the sense that music carries real power, and that we were doing something deeply meaningful by bringing music across borders. Many students (myself included) who hadn’t previously left the States, or didn’t particularly intend to, were inspired to travel internationally in the future.
I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to anyone and everyone who provided assistance in any way. This tour would not have been the success it was without all the support we received —financially, logistically, and otherwise. The four tour managers (myself, Jacob Cohen ’16, Nathan Kashdan ’18, and Adam Proch ’17) had the opportunity to meet and work with so many wonderful people through the process of planning this tour. From the people here on the Hill (shout-out to Alumni Affairs and the Music Department!) to enthusiastic alumni and friends in Mexico, we felt the love from all directions, and it certainly fueled this endeavor.
This project was a milestone for the Chorus in many ways. The women of this generation of the Chorus were privileged to have the opportunity to travel abroad, and are inspired to turn around and help provide the same opportunity for all future generations. The organization carries forward with confidence in our ability to resourcefully create extraordinary experiences, and our musical and social relationship with the Glee Club continues to thrive. It is my hope that the choirs keep providing opportunities for students to travel and sing, and opportunities for students to lead those efforts. Mesoamerica Tour 2016 has been my life since spring 2014, and what a pleasure it has been to serve the Chorus and Glee Club in this way.
Over and out,
Amy “YEAH TOUR!!!!” Penick ‘17
International Tour Manager