Each year, the music department takes a choir on tour during spring break. This year, Voices of the Earth had the opportunity to go to cities like Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland as well as some smaller towns in Ohio. 

We left bright and early on Feb. 24. We loaded the bus after checking in with the one and only Marcia Yost. The bus was filled with energy and excitement, despite it being 6 a.m.

We spent the whole first day in Detroit, and instead of starting our tour with performances, we got to visit two amazing museums: the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and the Motown Museum. Through an immersive experience, we learned about the history of African Americans as well as where big-name musicians like Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye and so many more got their start. These visits were followed with a trip to Aretha Franklin’s church also in Detroit. 

Later that evening, we arrived in Cleveland, Ohio at Lee Heights Community Church, the beautiful church where we would be attending and performing the next morning. 

We continued to spend the next six days immersed in cities and communities of kind and hospitable people while appreciating good food and resonant acoustic spaces. In total, we performed six times on tour and participated in many workshops with high school students, the University of Chicago and the Trinity United Church of Christ choir. 

For me, it was so exciting to meet people for the first time and then sing and connect with them through a shared love of music making.

Sarah Miller, a junior music education major and lovely djembe percussionist for the tour, expressed feeling “especially glad to sing with many of the people we interacted with because it felt like everyone that we sang with just brought a new joy and energy to the music.”

Spending three days in different parts of Chicago teaches you a lot. It taught us a little more about our director, H. Roz Woll. She grew up in Hyde Park, so we spent time there exploring coffee shops and bookstores she went to or just taking a walk with the chilly wind on our faces. It also taught Miller to beat the nerves of playing djembe in front of 120 strangers. “Everyone cheered me on, and I was glad to have those experiences because they helped me get a better sense of music making on my own,” she said. 

While in Chicago, our nights were spent in a hostel rooming with up to 12 of our choir mates, where we felt like we were back at summer camp. To wind down from our busy days, some of us chose to lead a bible study, take the Enneagram and Myers-Briggs tests, or catch the season 46 premiere of Survivor.

Irish Cortez, a senior theater major who is also in the Queen Singers, said, “Coming back from tour feels good because we just experienced so many new things together, bonded, learned and came back to Goshen stronger.” With this, she also felt bittersweet about tour “as the clock is ticking to graduation.” 

She finished by saying, “I think about how I will have to cherish every moment at school.”

As the tour came to an end, the bus ride back home was calm and quiet while we pondered all of the memories we made from the mall shopping trips, to the beautiful murals in Paseo Boricua, to meeting cheery tour guides, to sharing nice dinners, and to sleeping next to your bestie on the bus as it arrives back at GC.