Czech out Broadway: Concert Choir fundraises for tour

Katie Ribbens–Staff Writer

Contributed Photo

The lit blue and purple backdrop bathed the Grille in cool tones. Dordt University Concert Choir members dressed in black milled about, chatting and making last-minute adjustments. A divider hid the rest of the choir from view, where they prepared desserts supplied by Dordt Dining. Round tables peppered the room, filled with guests. The choir emerged from the shadows and lined the walls. Eager faces, from an infant’s wide eyes to a woman’s lined face, turned toward the stage.

Broadway and Desserts took place on Saturday, Feb. 12 to raise funds for the choir’s upcoming tour to Austria and the Czech Republic. The choir performed 16 Broadway songs by way of solos, duets, and trios. The entire choir came together at the opening and conclusion of the night. The fundraiser exceeded the amount of money they hoped to raise for the tour. 

Choir director Ryan Smit allowed the students to take the lead in organizing the event. He did not hear the songs until the soundcheck an hour before the event. He wanted students to find songs they were passionate about and would not require handholding.

“I trust my singers,” Smit said. “There’s a lot of talent in that ensemble.”

Smit said in the future he may host some brief auditions to help students prepare for the next time they conduct Broadway and Desserts.  

Miranda Munson, a sophomore technical theatre major, had a hand in organizing the event in addition to her performance. When Smit asked for volunteers for the Student Leadership Committee, Munson answered the call to serve as chairwoman. She and the five other members of the committee worked to make the event a success. 

“It never ends up how you think it will, but it always still ends up better than you thought,” Munson said. “I was pleasantly surprised by how everything came together.”

Munson performed “I’m Past my Prime” from Li’l Abner with sophomore Zach Brenner. They chose the song because they found the lyrics ironic to their friendship. Munson also performed “Matchmaker” from Fiddler on the Roof with her two sisters, Isabel and Sonja. The song featured three sisters in the original musical, so the Munson sisters mirrored the dynamic in their performance. 

“We grew up listening to that musical,” Munson said. “Of course we had to [perform the song].” 

Rylan Brue, a senior, performed “Anything You Can Do” from Annie Get Your Gun with senior Rachel Heynen. The song called for a fun banter back and forth, which they delivered to much laughter and applause from the audience. They’ve had the song in mind for two years—since their last choir tour. 

Smit said the upcoming tour will offer opportunities for students to experience music and culture. They will sing at several famous churches where they can share the gospel and appreciate stellar acoustics. St. Nicholas Church, Salzburg Cathedral, Imperial Capuchin Church, and St. Peter’s Church are only some of the many they will visit. These European churches often remain empty on Sunday: they are a site for tourism over worship.

“Many choirs just sing this historical Christian music because it’s historical,” Smit said. “We sing historical Christian music because it’s Christian.”

Although they may have to take some COVID-19 precautions, the trip is still scheduled for May 19-28. Students will also be given freedom to explore the area in group tours and on their own. Brue jumped at the opportunity to go on the tour to Europe. He joined the concert choir for the community and the chance to create something together. COVID-19 cut his last choir tour short in New York in March 2020, just hours before they were set to watch Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.

“You get to harvest all the fruit from the community built throughout the year and then you just enjoy a lot of time together traveling,” Brue said. “I wouldn’t pass up the tour for anything.” 

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It will be the second time he visits Europe in a single year. Brue also attended Dordt’s Dante and the Italian Renaissance trip over Christmas break. But this time, he will get to sing in the churches instead of just touring through them, something he appreciates as a theology major. 

Although the tour is slightly intimidating to Munson, she believes college is the best time to travel and is looking forward to the tour.

“Choir is so important to me,” Munson said. “Basically, music is how I run as a person. It’s just always been there and always will be.”

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