NSU choirs get international praise on recent trip

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Northwestern State University’s choirs may not have been well known when they arrived in Budapest, Hungary, for the 3rd Budapest International Choral Celebration and Laurea Mundi International Open Competition and Grand Prix of Choral Music. But by the time NSU left, they were one of the most talked about choirs at the competition.

The Lyric Choir won a Gold Medal in the Female Choirs category. The Chamber Choir received a Laurea Summa Cum Laude diploma in the Mixed Choir category and a Laurea Cum Laude diploma in the Musica Sacra (Sacred Music) category. The choirs are conducted by Director of Choral Activities Dr. Nicholaus Cummins.

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“Several jury members told were impressed with our choirs and told us we need to keep competing because we would begin to win international competitions,” said Cummins.

The competition included choirs from the Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan and the United States. This was the first time a Northwestern State choir has participated in international competition.

“Take my special congratulations for your fantastic music contributions during the Budapest Choral Celebration,” said one of the competition jurors. “What I liked most…was the fact that your musical interpretations, the passion of your singers, I could feel it so clearly. I do love emotions in music. That´s what it is all about.”

Competition organizers were so impressed with the NSU choirs that they added them to the final Gala performance which concluded the event.

“Part of my objective was to see that Northwestern State choirs began to develop an international footprint and we did that,” said Cummins. “I can’t say how much we grew over the 12 days we were in Europe. The choir began to rehearse on their own. They took charge and made things happen. We exceeded what I thought we would do.”

Cummins said the choir members brought back a number of memories aside from the competition. On one occasion in Budapest, the choir began to perform in one of the city’s subways.

“We drew quite a crowd,” said Cummins. “I saw a police officer approach us and asked him if we should stop. He said “On no, please continue. I love the music.”’

Another memorable event was performing at Chapel of St. Kinga in the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Wieliczka, Poland, and at St. Mary’s Basilica in Krakow.

“A number of tourists told me they would attend the concert after hearing us in the salt mine,” said Cummins.

Cummins said the choir plans to continue competing internationally. They could compete next summer or wait until 2020.

“We received a great deal of support from the Organizational Relief Fund and the community which made this trip possible,” he said. “We were able to obtain some new music along with a number of contacts and friendships which will help us in the years to come.”

For more information on Northwestern State’s choral programs, go to capa.nsula.edu/music/choral-and-vocal-studies.