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Grassroots: Edgecliff Vocal Ensemble's tour of Spain

By Patrick Phillips
On August 30, 2012

While countries from all over the world flocked to Cincinnati
for the World Choir Games, Xavier University students took a
trip of their own across the globe to share their love of music with others. The Xavier University Edgecliff Vocal Ensemble consisting of 20 students toured Spain this summer from May 13-21, enjoying the sights and sounds of an area with which Xavier shares a connection. Led by Scot Buzza and Dr.
Thomas Merrill, the Edgecliff Vocal Ensemble traveled all over Spain. For senior music education major Lindsey Hittmeier, it was her first taste of Europe. "Well, after our luggage got lost," Hittmeier said with a smile, "We were off to set up concerts and learn about Spain." One of the cities the Edgecliff
Vocal Ensemble visited was Manresa. As every Xavier student knows, Manresa is the name of Xavier's orientation program. However, it is also the name of the city where St. Ignatius developed the spiritual exercises that contributed to the forming of the Jesuit order. "It was really interesting to be up close and personal with the history of our university," Hittmeier said. "The purpose of the tour was for the educational experience," Hittmeier said. "It was a way to connect students to the grassroots of our university." The group headed to Loyola and saw the birthplace of St. Ignatius. While there, they performed by the Capilla de la Conversion and got a tour of the Loyola Castle and Sanctuary, where St. Ignatius was born.
Catalonia was another destination on the group's itinerary.
Earlier in the trip, they had heard a song called "El Virolai." Since it pertained to Catalonia, the group decided that it would be a nice surprise for their audience. When the Edgecliff Vocal Ensemble began the piece, the place erupted with praise.
"We were only three notes into the song, when everyone started singing with us, clapping their hands and cheering," Hittmeier said. "It was just amazing how people could be so touched, and we didn't even know we brought it with us."
For the Edgecliff Vocal Ensemble students, the idea that
music is a universal language came to fruition. "Every time we had a concert, we packed the house," Hittmeier said. "It was just so touching that locals, who didn't even know who we were, come fill the house." Members of the Edgecliff Vocal Ensemble also had the opportunity to have their original works performed for locals. Senior music education major Emily Kenkel and Class of 2012 graduate Mike Franzosa both composed pieces that were sung by the Edgecliff Vocal Ensemble. As a music education major, Hittmeier marveled at themany opportunities for people to get involved with something they loved. With the World Choir Games coming to Cincinnati and the Edgecliff Vocal Ensemble travelling to Spain, Hittmeier described it as a "reflexive experience." "Only four of the 20 students who went were music majors," said Hittmeier. "It just proves you just have to take every opportunity to do what you enjoy. Plus, you might get to go to Spain!" For the Edgecliff Vocal Ensemble, their trip created a bridge between the historical contexts of Xavier University and opened their eyes to the connections music can create. When asked to give one word to describe the whole experience, Hittmeier created her own word: "Take-me-back... all one word!"  

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