Festival Choir returns from Prague
LONGMEADOW, Mass.—Singing in front of nearly 1,000 people in European venues that are more than 1,000 years old and were once the homes of royalty sounds like a dream, but for 24 area college students it became a reality. Comprised of students from Bay Path College and Westfield State College, the Bay Path College Festival Choir recently performed in Prague, Czech Republic, performing for local residents and visitors at Lichtenstein Palace, Hlahol Concert Hall and St. George’s Basilica, among other Prague sites. Organized by Li Ciaglo, Director of Performing Arts at Bay Path, and led by Director of Choral Activities Scott Bailey, the group embarked on the overseas trip last month to perform as part of the 2009 Advent Choral Festival.
“This was an extraordinary experience for me, and it was an opportunity to combine my two loves of singing and traveling,” said Cristina Ruiz ’10, a forensic psychology major at Bay Path. “Prague is such a beautiful city to explore. The architecture is breathtaking and to have the chance to perform in such places as St. George’s Basilica—a church that’s more than 1,000 years old—for such enthusiastic audiences was amazing.”
Invited by the Council of the City of Prague, the Choir was given permission to sing traditional Jewish repertoire at Prague’s Spanish Synagogue. Also included in their repertoire at other venues were performances of A La Nanita Nana, African Noel, Advent Lullaby, Ha Shalom, and Christmas Time is Here. Requests for several impromptu concerts were honored at other historical landmarks, such as St. George’s Basilica and St. Vitus’s Cathedral. The Choir’s performances also secured them a spot to perform next year during the advent season in Munich, Germany.
“To have the opportunity to perform live in front of hundreds of people was a thrilling experience for our choir members,” said Ciaglo. “Their talent and their professionalism introduced them to new places and people, like the Monastery of the Infant Jesus of Prague. There, they met with the Abbot monk, who discussed the church’s global missions and thanked the students for taking the time to perform for them.”
During the eight-day journey, the choir participated in seven performances, including several Friendship Concerts, in which they sang alongside performers from colleges and universities across Europe, including Prague’s Charles University Choir. The Festival Choir also had an opportunity to visit the historical sites of the Czech Republic’s capital city, including Prague’s Castle District and Old Town.
Previously, the Bay Path College Festival Choir performed internationally in Vienna, Austria during the 2007 Advent season. The 2009 Festival Choir comprised the Bay Path Page Singers and Chorale, Bay Path alumnae, and students from Westfield State College. The performers included Bay Path College students Sarah B. Costa ’12 of Fall River, MA; Elizabeth Manly ’11 of Windsor, CT; Mandy Placeres ’11 of Enfield, CT; Marie Allie ’12 of Westfield, MA; Kim Lauro ’10 of Bryant Pond, ME; Caroline Pappas-Kenyon ’12 of Springfield, MA; Sharon Davidson ’12 of Boiceville, NY; Cristina Ruiz ’10 of Waterbury, CT; Tara Bonaldo ’12 of Orange, CT; Kelley Rogers ’12 of Riverside, RI; Aubry Frost ’10 of Adams, MA; Mallory Wray ’12 of Hinsdale, MA; Carolina Ynguanzo ’11 of Springfield, MA; Alaina Butler ’12 of Salem, MA; Bay Path College alumnae Lauren Belliveau ’08 of Phillipston, MA; Mary Fitzpatrick ’07 of Holyoke, MA; and April Trimble ’09 of East Granby, CT; and Westfield State College students Angela Bowker, Krissy Phelan, Rachel Ryan, Jodi Edwards, Lindsey Savola, Michael Burke; and Jessica MacMonegle-Ekness.
The Page Singers and Chorale appear at regional concerts and festivals throughout the year, including Bay Path’s upcoming Spring Performing Arts Concert in April 2010. The groups specialize in performing diverse and eclectic musical compositions from a wide range of musical genres including pop, jazz, classical, and contemporary.
“To have the opportunity to travel with the Festival Choir to Europe as a student and now as an alumna has been remarkable,” said April Trimble ’09, a graduate of Bay Path College. “I’ve been extremely fortunate to perform with my peers in Vienna and Prague during this joyous season, sharing our voices with such wonderful people. Every time we performed, we opened the door to new opportunities from impromptu concerts to performances in Germany next year. This was absolutely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”