Southwestern Adventist University’s elite traveling choir, the University Singers, traveled to Washington D.C. November 1-4 for a series of performances at the World Headquarters for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Silver Spring, Maryland, and the United States Senate Bible Study in Washington D.C.
After arriving in Baltimore Nov. 1, the Singers traveled into Washington to attend a Choral Evensong at the National Cathedral, which featured the Cathedral Men and Boys choirs and was directed by Michael McCarthy, director of music at the National Cathedral. After the service, the Singers had their questions answered by a Cathedral staff member, which included historical and architectural details about the Cathedral.
On Friday morning, the Singers performed the first of their five programs at Adventist World Headquarters. The first program was a session of the North American Division’s Diversity Celebration. The Singers performed Shawn Kirchner’s arrangement of Wana Baraka sung in Swahili with Dr. Marc Élysée, director of orchestral studies at Southwestern, on the djembe.
After the morning performance, the Singers traveled into the city for a tour of the U.S. Capitol Building, which led to an impromptu concert outside the entrance for 100 visitors from Great Britain. The tour was followed by a mini concert at the Senate Bible Study, hosted by senate chaplain and retired rear admiral Barry Black. The Bible Study meets every Friday in the Senate Office Building.
On Friday night, the Singers returned to the General Conference to perform for the opening session of the 2012 Year-End Meetings.
The next morning, the University Singers performed two selections for the morning church service at the General Conference, including a choral arrangement written by Dr. John Boyd, professor of music theory at Southwestern.
On Saturday evening, the Singers held a vespers concert in the General Conference Auditorium. Élysée was again featured on violin, with senior music major Lori James on flute, and Boyd on piano. The General Conference performances were televised live on the Hope Channel, which broadcasted the programs around the world.
“I felt like we were a part of history in D.C.,” says Sheena Arocho, junior music major. “It was cool to walk where our forefathers made decisions about the country and get to sing for a legislative branch. It was also a blessing to witness globally.”
“It really felt like a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” says Enny Velasquez, freshman music major. “We got to enjoy the bonding time and had a chance to witness to so many people. It was amazing.”