USF Chamber Singers return with awards from overseas

After traveling overseas for 16 days, the USF Chamber Singers returned to the United States with several awards. The choir sang at the 38th International Choral Song Festival in Miedzydroje, Poland.

“Eight to 10 choirs are selected and invited to compete. It is a week-long festival, and the competition is at night. Each evening, two or three choirs perform a short program and are being judged on only four selections identified by the conductor,” said Richard Zielinski, director of the USF Chamber Singers.

Zielinski said the choir came home June 30 with various awards including: Sacred Music Presentation, which is the highest quality of sacred music presented, Golden Standard Diploma, the highest standard of performance and the Grand Prix, naming them Champion Choir of the Festival.

But in addition to awards, Zielinski said the choir returned with an extended knowledge of music from Germany and Poland.

“What USF students gained from this international experience was knowledge, confidence, worldwide prospective, new friends and many musical experiences,” Zielinski said. “This is the big reward, and it cannot be measured in awards or trophies. The students will carry these experiences with them forever.”

Dan Petrie, a member of the winning chamber choir, said the students have been practicing for more than a year for the festival. Petrie said they had to do fund raising, take classes on the basic Polish language and dedicate many hours to the music.

“It was amazing and a fantastic experience,” Petrie said.

Petrie added that traveling overseas was a learning experience that cannot be taught in a classroom.

“We experienced first hand a lot of the history we learned in most of our classes. Musically, it was an amazing experience,” Petrie said. “The concerts were phenomenal and the big highlight was going to Bach’s church, which is the home of baroque music. This was the first time that any study abroad program from USF has gone to Poland.”

Zielinski said there will be a performance focusing on the music that was performed in Poland. The concert will be held in the Music Recital Hall on Aug. 9 at 8 p.m.

“We will display our awards, tell stories, show videos, etc. … It will be a great night of celebration and reflection,” Zielinski said.

Petrie said the trip opened doors for future music trips so it can be a little easier to get started.

“The trip was a great success,” he said.