A Weekend Away with Chamber Chorus

Photo courtesy of Morgan Harris

The Chamber Chorus members engaging in a fun bonding exercise during their weekend retreat.

On Saturday, September 24, members of the Choate Chamber Chorus piled onto a school bus full of music stands, overloaded backpacks, and multiple speakers playing at once. The bus was bound for The Wisdom House, a conference and retreat center situated on 70 acres of land in the woods of Litchfield, Connecticut.

Scott Romeyn ’18, a member of the ensemble, explained, “The purpose is for members to get to know each other, but also to create a standard for what we want for rehearsals.”

Along similar lines, Ms. Alysoun Kegel, Choral Director and leader of the retreat, added, “The ultimate goal of the retreat is for us to build a stronger sense of ‘ensemble,’ which means ‘together’ in French. A good choir is able to do things at exactly the same time, and with immediate responsiveness and alacrity, which takes trust, connection, sensitivity, and ability to anticipate what another person will do.”

The choir strengthened their aforementioned camaraderie through a variety of different bonding activities — from sectional structures with the common theme of environment to elbow tag and cut-throat musical chair games.

Meditation was also a crucial part of the retreat. Whether it be walking through the woods — which Ms. Kegel refers to as a “powerful and special labyrinth” — performing tai-chi with Will May ’18, or learning yoga poses from Lily James ‘17, the group learned that meditation is significant for any singer, as it establishes a connection with the ground and with other singers.

The choir spent a part of the time discussing values and rules for the choir to keep in consideration throughout the year. Through the discussion, the singers were able to self-reflect and ask themselves what they wanted to get out of their choir experiences this year.

As expected, the choir retreat would not be so without singing. A combination of team bonding and singing, the choir performed Pauline Oliveros’s “Slow Song” at the woods, danced with scarves to Alberto Grau’s “Kasar mie la Gaji,” and expressed the dynamics of “Cloudburst” using a massive stretchy band. These activities helped the choir improve the collective sound of their repertoire while they enjoyed themselves at the same time.

“My favorite part was spending time with people who I’ve always known, but the retreat allowed me to get to know them even better,” reflected Eamonn Welliver ’18.

Mattie Drucker ’17 added, “My favorite part about this retreat was when Max Patel ’19 started this improv musical called Heelys.” The improv musical starred Patel, Stephen Ankoue ’17, Caitlin Lawrence ’17, and Mia Rubenstein ’18, accompanied by Kevin Auman ’17.

All in all, the retreat allowed members of the Choate Chamber Chorus to escape the stress of being on campus and spend time with their fellow singing mates, which hopefully prepared the group as a whole for their upcoming singing endeavors at Choate and beyond.

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