Lawrence University’s annual Presto! tour will send our Cantala Women’s Choir and Concert Choir to Chicago from March 14-17. As per tradition, this tour is an outreach-based project that will feature public performances and community service efforts that focus on making an impact on communities through music. The choirs will perform two concerts in Chicago at Fourth Presbyterian Church and St James Cathedral that will be open to the general public. These concerts will be integrated with outreach sessions where Lawrence University students will get a chance to work with charity groups such as Sarah’s Circle, Deborah’s Place, and the Youth Empowerment Performance Project.
Cantala has been preparing repertoire in a variety of languages that focus on hope and the empowerment of women. They hope that these songs will offer inspiration and consolation to women from Sarah’s Circle and Deborah’s Place, which offer shelter and clinical services to homeless women and victims of domestic abuse. Some of the students on tour will work with the Youth Empowerment Performance Project to create and develop a new theatrical performance piece with LGBTQ+ youth. Many of these young LGBTQ+ identifying individuals are homeless and experience struggles due to their gender expression. The performance project will help them reflect on their history and find new ways to deal with their struggles. Concert Choir will perform several religious works, including a Baha’i piece that will add to the theme of hope and inspiration. Their program features works by female and African-American composers. The choirs will also visit and engage with students at Muskego-Norway High School, Neuqua Valley High School, the Chicago Children’s Choir, and the Merit School of Music while on tour.
Several of the choir students volunteered to help plan the outreach aspects of the tour and
both choirs are waiting excitedly for the approaching tour weekend along with their dedicated conductors, Associate Professor of Music and Co-Director of Choral Studies Phillip Swan and Associate Professor and Co-Director of Choral Studies Stephen Sieck. We hope that this Presto! tour will make an impact on these communities in Chicago and that it may lead to many more Presto! tours in the future of Lawrence University.