Through an affiliation between DePauw University Choirs and the organization Village Harmony, the School of Music begins the first in a projected series of musical immersion trips through cultures with rich traditions of polyphonic singing. 

Beginning Jan. 3 and continuing through Jan. 24, 2018, student members of the DePauw Chamber Singers, University Choir and the College of Liberal Arts, along with co-faculty leaders Professors Kristina Boerger and Elissa Harbert, will spend 22 days on a performing and learning experience guided and taught by local experts in South African choral singing. 

The three-week excursion starts with several days of rehearsal at a nature camp in the north, where the students will spend time polishing concert repertoire, learning a set of songs in a mixture of South African traditions, and studying the cultural and political history of the ethnic groups where the songs originated. 

Taking to the road, the group will travel south through several cities, residing in local choral communities and sharing concert experiences with school choirs, church choirs and community choirs, also visiting sites of cultural and historical interest. The tour will culminate in the great South African city of Cape Town. 

Village Harmony’s legacy of supporting local experts to teach their traditions to visitors has done more than open the ears of Americans to unique, distant styles: it has been instrumental in helping local communities preserve their own music against the threat of global market forces. When younger generations in a distant location see that the world outside keeps visiting to study their music, they receive a strong message that their elders’ traditions are beautiful and worthy to be perpetuated. 

Similar tour experiences are possible in other vocal-harmony hot-spots including Corsica, the Republic of Georgia, and Bulgaria — all potential locations for future tours of singers at DePauw University School of Music. 

To follow the students on this road trip of a lifetime, visit the School of Music’s Facebook page: