Crown College Choir Prepares to Say ‘Bon Voyage’ on Scandinavian Tour

Crown College Choir Prepares to Say ‘Bon Voyage’ on Scandinavian Tour

The Crown College Choir is about to engage with a worldwide audience.

They leave May 15 for Sweden and Norway on a two-week tour. On May 14 at 3 p.m., the choir will give audiences a taste for the performances in the chapel at Crown. The theme this year is My Heart is Longing to Praise My Savior and features an eclectic mix of arrangements.

Dr. David Donelson, who leads the Crown choir, explained that the European tour includes choral arrangements and traditional spirituals that date back over 100 years and one song written just one year ago. Many of the songs were arranged and written by Scandinavian composers.

“International travel really opens the world to these students in the choir,” says Dr. Donelson. “And, it’s great to perform for European audiences that really appreciate the concerts.”

Some of the songs include one by a Russian composer named Sergei Rachmaninoff; another is by Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo who is only 30-years-old. There’s a Swedish hymn called Children of the Heavenly Father, and a rendition of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.

All told, 27 students from Crown will participate in seven concerts over a 14 day period.

Interestingly, one of the highlights for the students on a choir tour is that they can stay with host families and engage in lively discussions with them. Dr. Donelson says this is often a chance for students to meet audiences on a personal level, many of whom might not know English.

“In the past when I went on tour, I was really amazed at how close you can get to the host family within one evening because you’re so willing to be open,” says Grace Harmon, an Education major at Crown who sings soprano. “It’s a great opportunity to discuss things like politics that wouldn’t normally happen, but because we’re there from America for just a short time they’ll be interested in going deep really fast. It’s a great opportunity to evangelize in little ways.”

Dr. Donelson says there’s another interesting aspect to going on tour. In many parts of Europe and Scandinavia, the churches and sanctuaries sit idle during the week, barely attracting a few dozen people on Sunday. Yet, when there’s a concert, the local community might fill the building and number over 1,000 in some cases, just to hear the international choir.

“Crown College was founded as a missionary training school,” says Dr. Donelson, who students refer to as Dr. D in informal settings. “It was always one of the top if not the top priority for the college in terms of being a driving force in preparing students for service overseas.”

The choir tour is a chance for students to share their talents with an international audience, engage with culture, and get to know their host families over a two week period. For Dr. Donelson, it will certainly be a highlight of his 26 years as a choir director.