Courtesy of Unity Performing Arts Foundation
FORT WAYNE—The Voices of Unity Youth Choir (VOUYC) is preparing to make history, again, by traveling to the 8th World Choir Games in Riga, Latvia! This will be the third time the choir has participated in this global event, and will be the second time the choir has participated as gold medal winners.
Members of VOUYC have been working vigorously to raise funds, in addition to preparing for the choral competition. As the competition draws near, Marshall White, CEO/choral director and life coach of UNITY Performing Arts Foundation, has implemented an intense rehearsal schedule.
The momentum continues as the group has recently returned from an exciting performance at Carnegie Hall in New York weeks ago. Students have been rehearsing twice a day, from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., and again from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at the Rhinehart Music Building on the Campus of Indiana University-Purdue University, as well as at the Dolnic Building on the North Campus of Ivy Tech Community College. This rehearsal schedule will continued through July 11. The choir also rehearsed from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. July 12, during which the choir, travel planning team, staff and parents had their final travel meeting to receive final travel details and important information regarding the trip before leaving July 14.
The travel group, which consists of 53 people (including students and adult chaperones, and staff), traveled to the Chicago O’Hare Airport by charter bus, and continued their trip by making a connection flight in Poland, and were scheduled to arrive in Riga, Latvia at 5:05 p.m., July 14.
While in Riga, the group has a very hectic and exhilarating schedule. The group will use military time, as is used in many European countries, to outline its schedule. Their schedule includes breakfast at the hotel, Hotel Tallink, and meals in the Olympic Sports Centre, which will be the central location for several World Choir Games participating choral groups to dine together and mix and mingle. The group will also perform in a special Friendship Concert, participate in the Parade of Nations and, of course, compete. The group also plans to reunite with their choir friends from Hong Kong, whom they met during their first experience at the World Choir Games in Shaoxing, China in 2010. Site-seeing is also part of the group’s schedule. The choir is scheduled to return to Fort Wayne at 12:30 a.m., in the parking lot of the Rhinehart Music Building.
As mentioned, the choir will be competing as existing gold medalists, and will be defending their titles. Choral Director White, has instilled in the choral team, they are preparing to compete at the “highest level,” ensuring that each student has the mindset of a champion. For many students, however, this trip is more than just a competition. It is the opportunity to represent the United States, the state of Indiana and our great city of Fort Wayne on an international level. For several travelers, it will be their first trip to the continent of Europe! This is an opportunity of a lifetime for any adult, while most of those traveling have not even reached the age of adulthood.
Unity Performing Arts Foundation is providing students in the Fort Wayne area and beyond, the opportunity to begin taking steps to thinking globally. Students will have the opportunity to have an instant, tangible snapshot of the world outside of the United States. The power of choral music will be bringing people from all walks of life together, creating friendships and networking opportunities that will be of great value to each student.
The organization has set high expectations and goals from the outset of the planning process for this trip, and has worked hard to ensure the goals are being met. White notes: “We have raised $424,000 of our $500,000 goal! We are asking those who have not given to reach down in your hearts and invest in this great opportunity and positive effort. I’m very proud to be in a community that not only recognizes the uniqueness in young people but also makes the extra effort to support, invest and encourage that uniqueness into bold greatness. Fort Wayne, you are to be commended for your support of these World Class Young Singers.”
Parents and family members may also contact students while in Riga by using Skype, Tango or other communication applications. Special “Talk Times” will be coordinated through the UNITY Office, and more information will be corresponded by way of our home delegate and staff member, Ms. Helga Portela.
To follow the choir’s story while in Riga, please follow us on Facebook at Voices of Unity USA Olympic Choir Team and Upaf Fort Wayne, on Instagram @thevoicesofunity, and on Twitter @VoicesOfUnity. You can also follow along on our journey through blog posts, pictures and videos on the UNITY website: www.upaf.com/blog.