Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 8.45.22 AMSymphonic Choir’s biannual East Coast tour brings experiences that can’t be found at other schools

By Ellise Shafer, ’17

Since 2003, the Upper Arlington Vocal Music program has carried the tradition of a bi-yearly New York City tour for students in the Symphonic Choir.

This trip begins with a performance at Upper St. Clair High School in Pennsylvania, and continues to New York for additional gigs at cathedrals St. Paul the Apostle and St. John the Devine. Besides the choral aspect of the trip, students also tour New York City; seeing two Broadway shows, visiting Top of the Rock and taking a boat cruise to see the Statue of Liberty, to name a few highlights.

Choral teacher Amy Leacock said that the tour stemmed from her and colleague Eric Kauffman’s own involvement on similar trips during their high school and college years.

“Both Mr. Kauffman and I traveled in high school and college in choirs and it was such a memorable experience,” Leacock said. “We wanted our students to be exposed to it too.”

However, the performance aspect of Symphonic Choir’s East Coast tour makes it different than other schools’ trip programs.

“[Although] I think that many schools and groups travel, we make sure it’s educational from a performance perspective as well,” Leacock said. “Many choirs go to a big city but many don’t do any performing which I think is sad.”

In addition, some Columbus schools, like Bishop Hartley, don’t offer a school-sponsored trip. Bishop Hartley junior and choir participant Ryan Reed wishes that he got to experience a trip similar to UAHS’ East Coast tour, as he believes it would be about more than just singing in a group.

“I think having a school-sponsored trip would really benefit the full experience of choir,” Reed said. “It would also be great if they were with other choirs so that new friendships could be made.”

This is evidently something Leacock and Kauffman took into consideration while planning the trip: UAHS’ Symphonic Choir performs for Upper St. Clair High School’s choir in Pennsylvania, and vice versa.

“The students get a chance to see another choir, Upper St. Clair. They hear them sing and get to sing with and for them,” Leacock said. “It’s great to expose them to other high school choirs.”

Reed agrees that this would be exactly what he would want in a school choir tour.

“[The trip] should be about more than just experiencing the arts,” Reed said.

On the other hand, students are also able to develop a love for New York City alongside their peers. Senior Michael Roberts, this year’s bass section leader, cited this among his favorite aspects of the trip.

“I have always wanted to live in NYC and this trip deepened my love for it,” Roberts said.

Senior Jenny Hogan, a member of the UAHS choral department for four years, enjoyed exploring New York with fellow members of Symphonic Choir as well.

“I loved being able to grow closer to the people around me, while at the same time experiencing something so amazing,” Hogan said.

These positive adventures in NYC were a result of a choral program that staff and students alike are proud of.

“We are so lucky to have such an amazing vocal music program…” Hogan said, “… that provides us with such amazing opportunities.”

Photo Caption: Seniors Tori Hanes (left), Natalie White, Michael Roberts, Jenny Hogan and Elise Rucker pose for a picture in Times Square. Symphonic students cited exploring Times Square as one of their favorite trip memories.

Photo Courtesy of: Jenny Hogan