Last month, the Knox College choir traveled to France and performed for nearly two weeks before heading back campus for Spring Term. It was the last choir tour for seniors Ashaunti Roby, Madeline Pape, Haley Richter and Dakota Stipp, all of whom discussed the tour in an interview with The Knox Student.
The Knox Student: What were your general reactions to touring in France?
Dakota Stipp: It was honestly the time of our lives.
Ashaunti Roby: I went in with no expectations. I didn’t even read the itinerary, I wanted to go with the flow and it ended up being great.
Haley Richter: There’s something nice about having someone make all the decisions for you. You can just be free to go.
Madeline Pape: Since it was our last tour, I ended up crying a lot more than times before.
TKS: Do any specific moments on the tour stand out to you?
HR: I think the last concert was really special for me, but the reason it was so special was because it was special for everyone in the choir. We all felt that one, and by that point, we had the songs down so well that we could really focus on the emotion.
MP: We went to an art museum and everyone was walking around and there was this tiny chapel to the side. A bunch of us went in there and sang our most resonate song. It was beautiful. First, it was just a couple of students, but them more showed up and eventually Laura Lane came in and conducted us. It was spontaneous and great. We were just singing for ourselves.
TKS: As seniors, how does this tour compare to the tours of past years?
AR: This one was great. The chemistry between the members was awesome and we all bonded a lot.
HR: It’s much easier comparing this to the Italy tour than the Midwest tour. We were all enjoying it so much.
DS: It wasn’t a clique-y group. I had no clue who I would spend the day with when I woke up in the morning. They were people who I had never hung out with before and became good friends with, or people I’d known before but never got to know well. It was all over the place. We made crepes one morning, on Sunday. It was nice.
TKS: How exactly does a tour out of the country compare to something within the USA, like the Midwest tour?
MP: I feel like abroad tours have less time as a large group, because we spend less time together. We have so much free time. During the Midwest tour, we were always together.
HR: But there’s also the opposite where the abroad tours, we are always in the same hotel and together at night, whereas with the Midwest tour we stayed in homestays which split us into smaller groups.
DS: On the Italy tour, we had more free time. When we weren’t performing, you have this much free time in this city. So I hung out with people I knew. In France, it was much more planned out. You were at a specific place at a specific time, which helped people spread out among one another.
TKS: How did being a senior, the eldest of the group on tour, compare to being on tour as a freshman?
MP: I think when we were freshmen and sophomores, it felt like the seniors weren’t as friendly. They didn’t want to be our friends. I felt like this group of seniors was trying to make the whole group feel like a family, instead of separate entities that come together sometimes.
HR: Our freshman year, we knew who the seniors were and they wanted to stick together. I don’t feel like it’s true this year.
MP: It’s still weird to think that people look up to us, like those people are the seniors of the choir.
TKS: Take me through the final concert of tour, how did that feel?
MP: It all felt very natural to us, but the tears definitely made it a little harder. Toward the end, the Knox hymn was hard.
HR: When we sang the hymn, everyone held hands and during the last verse, Laura stopped conducting and gave it to us. It was really sentimental. And we’re in these incredible old churches with great reverb and you could tell the audience was in it with us.
DS: It sounds like it’s not about the music, but it is. At the beginning of tour, I was frustrated with our progress with the music. For me, the little things didn’t feel as memorized as they should be. It was nice to feel the music progress. It felt like the energy was flowing through us and into the crowd.
TKS: What did being in the choir bring to your Knox career as a whole?
MP: I probably wouldn’t have been here if it wasn’t for the choir.
DS: We have moments when we sit and speak about what the choir means to all the members. It’s a common theme that many would have transferred without it.
HR: It’s great to have something three or four times a week that you just go and immerse yourself in the music and that’s all you think about. You have to work with these people and it takes you away from homework or personal drama that might be bothering you. Also, some of the people I met here I know will be friends I will have for the rest of my life.
TKS: Where do you want your time in the choir to take you post graduation?
AR: I’ve always envisioned being a Laura Lane. So, I definitely have to continue singing, so I’ll join some choirs and I’d love to conduct some choirs. But I definitely want to continue giving voice lessons.
HR: I don’t know how I will continue to be in a choir, but I will be. Professional may not fill the same thing as KCC does, but I will at least try.
DS: The truth is, I probably won’t be able to sing in a choir for a while at least, because I plan to go into sound design. But it’s been helpful to have these skills and it’s all been a really enjoyable time.
MP: As a music major, I plan to have a job in music. I know I’ll try to join some professional choirs after Knox, and since the end of this tour, I’ve started to consider becoming a choir conductor. Coming from the Knox choir, it will be hard to find another choir that feels the same, so my goal is to find a new choir and try my best to make it a family.