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Sneak Peek at Chamber Singers’ European Tour

By Kaitie O'Hare

AU Chambers Singers at the Katzen.

The Chambers Singers will host preview concerts of their Spain and Portugal tour program on Friday, March 25, and Saturday, March 26, as they prepare for their departure in May.

The preview concerts will feature almost the entire original program, which runs approximately 90 minutes and samples a variety of music ranging from early and contemporary American and Spanish Diaspora songs, to spiritual and freedom songs.

Program selections are intended to bridge American history and customs with those in Spain and Portugal. "In a way, there's a sense of cultural ambassadorship in all this," says Department of Performing Arts Cochair and Director of Choral Activities Daniel Abraham.

"I think at the heart of AU and the notion of 'AU to the world, and the world to AU,' which is one of those statement that we really do follow, this is a great way to bring American music and an American ensemble singing many, many different styles to people who aren't necessarily in those centers where great concert halls exist," says Abraham.

This tour marks the second international tour Abraham has organized for the Chamber Singers and the third since he joined the faculty in 1999. He and the group traveled to Romania and Hungary in 2009, singing in some of the most unexpected places, like the Palace of the Parliament in Bucharest, Romania. The group was honored to be the first ever non-Romanian ensemble to perform in the building.

This time around, Abraham hopes the group will benefit in many of the same ways. In addition to gaining a sense of companionship, the Chamber Singers will perform in historic and acoustically diverse spaces and have the opportunity to gain a sense of the culture. Abraham recalls a moment on the 2009 tour when people came from miles away to hear the Chamber Singers perform in a tiny church located in the small farming town in Hungary. "It was an incredible experience," he says. "Immediately following the program, they fed us a meal, talked with us and visited, and some of the choir members made really great connections to some of the people in the surrounding community. I want that same sort of experience to occur again."

The Chamber Singers are scheduled to leave on May 12 and will perform seven concerts in five different cities including Granada, Seville, and Lisbon. During the trip, the ensemble will sing in notable churches like the Sé de Far in Portugal, built in 1271. "The spaces they're going to sing in are monuments: historically and acoustically they are the right kind of spaces for this music," says Abraham.

The preview concerts in March are the first of the concerts Abraham has scheduled before leaving for Europe. He plans to have another preview concert on May 11, just before the Chamber Singers' departure. While the location is still to be decided, Abraham plans to take the group off campus to perform for the local community.

The performances at American University will be held in the Katzen Arts Center Abramson Recital Hall and start at 8 p.m. on both March 25 and 26. Tickets can be reserved online or at the Katzen Arts Center Box Office.