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From May 9-16, members of the Assumption College Chorale ensemble traveled to Prague, Vienna and Salzburg to perform in historic churches and cathedrals where they also learned about the history of European politics and art. Among the 28 students on the trip was Matthew Miller, of Westford, MA, a member of the class of 2016.
Music and the arts are cornerstones of a classic, liberal arts education such as the one that students obtain at Assumption. Throughout the year, students are provided myriad opportunities to explore their love of music outside of the classroom and in the Worcester, Massachusetts community, whether as part of the College’s Chorale ensemble or with one of the other musical groups on campus. But the most coveted opportunity comes around every other year, when a handful of the College’s top Chorale students perform in Europe. Over the last 30 years, the Chorale‘s international concert tours have taken them to Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Poland, and Russia. They have performed in some of the great cathedrals of Europe, including Notre Dame in Paris, and St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, and have twice had the distinction of singing for His Holiness Pope John Paul II at the Vatican.
During the trip, students had the opportunity to sing during High Mass at the Bergheim Parish Church in Salzburg; performed a recital at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna; held an impromptu performance at the Melk Abbey in Melk; and sang at the Church of Our Lady in Prague.
Michelle Graveline, Ph.D., who teaches music at Assumption and started the Chorale when she came to the College in 1984, takes students abroad because she wants them to experience the thrill of performing timeless music in the edifices for which the music was composed. “Churches in Europe have a great deal of reverberation and the singers never fail to be amazed at the magnificent sound they can produce in these buildings,” she said.
Like many of the experiential learning opportunities offered through Assumption, these European trips give students a chance to learn in a real-world setting. Much like those who study at the College’s Rome Campus, students experience a unique opportunity to participate in and learn about the social, economic, political, and cultural world that they would not otherwise get in the classroom.
“We teach a great deal of political history and art history during these trips,” Prof. Graveline said, adding that this year’s trip focused on the Hapsburg Empire and the group spent time visiting places in which they could learn through both history and art, while immersed in a different culture. “The students get an educational experience they won’t soon forget,” she said.
The group enjoyed guided tours of each city, which included historical highlights like the castle district Hradcany and visits to Prague Castle, St. George’s Basilica and St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague; Hofburg Palace, the Capuchin Church, St. Charles’ Church, the central Ringstrasse, Belvedere Palace and St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna; and the Getreidegasse, the Residenzplatz, Salzburg Cathedral, and Mozart’s Birth house in Salzburg.