“The opportunity of a lifetime.” “A mind-blowing experience.” “The best week of my life.” “Unforgettable memories.” “An experience beyond my wildest dreams.” “My most treasured memory.” “A once-in-a-lifetime experience.” “The highlight of my university years.”
These were just some of the remarks from members of Southwestern Adventist University’s The University Singers after their late-summer concert tour to the United Kingdom. The Singers, along with British composer Philip W. Stopford, were invited to perform at Westminster Abbey, Quarr Abbey on the Isle of Wight, and Portsmouth Cathedral. Between performances, the musicians visited Windsor, Oxford, and London, where they immersed themselves in the country’s rich traditions, history, and culture.
“Having been invited to Southwestern Adventist University last February to premiere ‘God Is Our Hope and Strength,’ it was an absolute delight to welcome the Singers to the United Kingdom,” Stopford said. “The concert at Quarr Abbey and church services at Portsmouth Cathedral and Westminster Abbey were utterly wonderful. I was so impressed not only by the sound and musical mastery of this choir but also by the way these young people engaged in the requirements of the liturgy and style of music required for worship in the Anglican Church, which they performed so beautifully. It was a proud moment for me to have recommended this choir to sing at Westminster Abbey and [witness them] be immediately invited back at some point in the future.”
The Singers were accompanied by a string quartet led by music professor Rogério Nunes for the entirety of the tour. “If there is something that thrills, excites, and motivates us as musicians, it is having the opportunity to perform in places where most of the music composed was meant to be performed,” Nunes said. “On this trip, performing in centuries-old churches was a sublime experience and definitely one our students will never forget!”
The Singers and Strings were also musical guests on the weekend at the Newbold Seventh-day Adventist Church on the campus of Newbold College of Higher Education. Sandra Rigby-Barrett, former director of Adventist Colleges Abroad and the fine arts faculty at Newbold College, was one of the many generous tour hosts. “The congregation at Newbold church in Binfield was deeply blessed by the music ministry of the SWAU choir and instrumentalists. Indeed, it was a great honor to host this beautiful and highly accomplished choir.”
SWAU president Ana Patterson said, “Invitations to perform in London at Westminster Abbey, Quarr Abbey, and Portsmouth Cathedral are a true testament to the Department of Music's dedication to excellence. Under the direction of a distinguished team of professors, students can fine-tune their talents and share them for the glory of God. We are so proud of their performances and grateful for the many opportunities for Southwestern Adventist University students to excel through music.”
Since 2012, The University Singers have traveled to 18 countries sharing the gospel message through music.
The original version of this story was posted on the North American Division news site. Jonathan E. L. Wall is an associate professor of music and director of choral and vocal studies at Southwestern Adventist University. He is also artistic director of the annual Southwestern Music Festival at SWAU.