Every other month we get an update on what’s been happening recently at ourImmanuel Lutheran High School, College and Seminary in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
As restrictions regarding COVID-19 have decreased, especially in the last year, people across the United States have welcomed the return of their “normal” activities—traveling, attending sports events and concerts, or even just eating out at restaurants. Here at Immanuel, this spring marked the first time since the spring of 2019 that we were able to put on a “normal” tour choir schedule without having to worry about cutting it short or adhering to various mandates. The full return of this long-standing tradition was also the first time directing for Professor David Schaller and the first full schedule for many of the choir members.
The primary purpose of the ILC Tour Choir is sharing the Gospel message in word and song. What a privilege our tour choir has in using God’s gift of music to convey to people far and near His greatest gifts of forgiveness and salvation. This year, the choir concert took the form of a choral worship service based on the theme Alleluia (Praise the Lord). Not including concerts in Millston, Melrose, and Eau Claire, Wisconsin—which were outside the regular spring break tour—the choir sang for twelve different congregations over three states in just eight days. After beginning in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (Iron River and Marquette), the tour went through Michigan (Saginaw, Madison Heights, Coloma, and Sister Lakes) before heading to Batavia, Illinois. On the way back through Wisconsin, they sang in Hales Corners, Middleton, Fond du Lac, Appleton, and Markesan. If this sounds like a heavy schedule, it’s because it was, and several times it required singing in two different cities on the same day. For many of the choir members, this was a much heavier schedule than the last few years but was actually a return to one of the traditional tour choir routes.
Even with a heavy concert schedule, the choir found time to enjoy some of the local sites and activities. In Detroit, they stopped at Belle Isle Park (an island situated on the US/Canadian border) and visited historic Trinity Lutheran Church, the first Lutheran church in the city of Detroit, and one whose first pastor was Prof. Schaller’s thrice-great grandfather. Blessed with beautiful weather, they also enjoyed dune climbing at Warren Dunes State Park on the Lake Michigan shore, and in Chicago they spent part of a day at the Museum of Science and Industry.
More importantly, the choir members were able to meet and stay with members of our CLC congregations. I have been struck by how many students come back from tour and say that their favorite part of the trip was the fellowship with the people they spent time with in the congregations. This is definitely not the “normal” response that might be expected from young adults, and it highlights that even though this was a “normal” tour choir year, the whole tour choir endeavor itself is really quite remarkable.
Indeed, the director and these students put in a remarkable amount of time and practice for these concerts. After one concert, a public-school choir director who was in the audience remarked how difficult the music was for high school students to learn and memorize in a short amount of time. It is also amazing that we have been so blessed with safe travels as well as the ability to send twenty-four young adults on a week-long road trip with one adult supervisor and not be plagued with behavior issues or concerns. We have been truly blessed with exceptionally gifted students and directors. Perhaps we have forgotten how special these gifts are because tour choir is seen as a “normal” part of ILC. Of course, the most amazing aspect of tour choir is the ability to share the wonderful Gospel message. Let this never become routine or “normal” to us!
501 Grover Road, Eau Claire, WI, 54701