Over spring break, Vox Profundi, Goshen’s low-voice choir, performed at churches and schools across the East Coast. Directed by Scott Hochstetler and accompanied on piano Ana Yoder Coulter, the choir gave concerts in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia and Ohio.Vox’s repertoire included a variety of music, from spirituals such as “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho,” to classical selections from Fauré and Bach, to the Tik-Tok famous whaling song “The Wellerman.”
The tour was named “We Shall Walk Through the Valley in Peace” after the slow, mournful spiritual Vox sang at the end of each performance. The song references the trials and tribulations of Psalm 23.
For many congregations, Vox’s concerts were some of the first chances to meet in person since the start of the pandemic. Marcia Yost, director of arts for the GC Music Center, organized COVID-19 testing for all members of the choir, established COVID-19 protocols for the group and worked to arrange safe home stays with church members.
While the pandemic complicated some aspects of the tour, enthusiastic responses from audiences enforced the importance of shared worship, as churches are beginning to move beyond the shadow of the pandemic while retaining healthy, responsible COVID-19 measures.
“It felt so good to be touring again with a choir,” said Hochstetler. “The sound of the group solidified, and the reception of all the audiences we met on tour was very gratifying. There’s nothing like it.”
A lack of social interaction during the pandemic allowed for both choir and audience members to gain a greater appreciation of certain facets of life that may have previously been taken for granted.
“I enjoyed talking to people after concerts way more than I had thought,” said Lukas Bontrager-Waite, a sophomore computer science major. “It was nice to hear what people thought about the music.”
Extended bus rides were a bit strenuous, but Vox members found ways to pass the time. Antics included a robust rendition of the Goshen College Alma Mater while passing by Eastern Mennonite University; this and other bus singing was appreciated by the ever-charming bus driver, Robyn.
“The most memorable thing about tour was all of the unexpected friendships,” said Diego Torres, a junior physical education major. “All those different shenanigans like Mario Kart Tour or bouncing the ball up and down the bus really brought the whole group together.”
Other spontaneous events included mass meme production, 3:00 a.m. Tik-Tok creations and the christening of the phrase “Stuipy Mode.” Bonding experiences such as these were energizing and fruitful for many choir members.
Vox’s trip ended with a well-recieved home performance at Sauder Hall. Students were showered with hoots and hollers as they announced their names and majors. When it was time for Vox’s final number, the choir members formed a semi-circle on stage, clasping hands and singing:
“We shall walk through the valley of the shadow of death
We shall walk through the valley in peace.
And if Jesus Himself shall be our leader
We shall walk through the valley in peace.”