This year, the Knox College Choir is going to southern France, performing at different cathedrals around the region and performing for the communities in those areas. Though they will have some free time to explore and experience French culture, they will mostly be rehearsing and performing.
“We rehearse once a day for about two hours, and then get on stage,” junior Miranda Curtis said. “I went to Italy two years ago, and the Midwest tour last year. The Midwest bus tour was much more about bonding within the choir, and Italy was more about getting the cultural experience. But they were both great, lots of fun.”
While on tour in the United States, students participate in homestays, and stay with families that are somehow affiliated with the college. While in Europe, there are fewer personal connections, so they usually stay in hotels.
Thanks to all of their fundraising efforts, the trip is almost free for all of the students going. The only expense is one meal every day, and souvenirs. Everything else is covered by donations from choir alumni, the USEED campaign, the spring car wash, and raking leaves for professors.
“The USEED Campaign is structured like Kickstarter, where you write this whole statement, then send it out to the world. It’s different from the other fundraisers we do because this one reaches so many more people. All of the other fundraisers are centered around Galesburg and Knox itself,” senior and Choir President Danielle Freeman said. “Currently we are holding the leaf-raking fundraiser. I send an email out to the faculty and staff, and we go to professors’ houses and rake leaves for any amount of donation that they can provide. The professors typically give us cookies and cider too, it’s really cute.”
Since they are using a travel agency for the first time this year, those costs had to be accounted for as well, which means fundraising efforts had to be even stronger.
“We have alumni that consistently donate, even ones that just graduated. Everyone gives what they can,” Freeman said. This is also the first year that they are reaching out to alumni via e-mail, not just through letters, in an effort to be more sustainable. The choir chooses a day after rehearsal, prints everything out, and folds and stuffs the letters to alumni together, combining fundraising with choir bonding.
“I think [this choir tour] is going to be similar to Italy, because [Knox College Choir Director] Laura Lane likes to plan these things so we end up in less touristy places. We went to a lot of places I’ve never heard of before. This time, we’re not even leaving the airport in Paris, we just have a layover there,” senior Dakota Stipp said.
They will be touring cities in southern France, including Nice, St. Paul de Vince, Antibes, Marseilles, Avignon, Eze, Nimes and Aix-en-Provence. The trip will be about eight days long, over spring break.
“The climate of the choir has changed a lot, it’s never been hostile, but there’s even more of a social connection now than I remember from my sophomore year, when we went to Italy. We all hang out frequently. Tour is about bonding, and it will get even stronger,” Stipp said.
The choir has also seen some growth this year, having grown in size from 45 students last year, to about 55. The sound is now much bigger as well, with an unusually large bass section. At the end of this term, the Knox College Choir will be having a show, featuring Brahms’ Requiem. They are also currently having a piece composed for them by Ēriks Ešenvalds, a well-known composer.
“Laura [Lane] likes to reach out to composers, and sometimes they say yes,” Curtis said.