submitted by: Angi Howell
After a year and a half of planning and fundraising, the select Opus XVIII choir from Collegedale Academy (CA) in Collegedale, Tenn., ministered throughout three European countries during Spring Break 2018.
Nearly 40 students, accompanied by a dozen chaperones and the group’s choir director, Roberta Bishop, began the adventure in Munich, Germany. There Opus gave impromptu concerts at the Dachau concentration camp, where they offered a song of memory and honor; at Hofbräuhaus, where many early 20th-century political meetings were held; and at Nymphenburg Palace, the summer palace of Bavarian rulers.
“At the palace we were able to sing three different times,” said Cesiah Hernandez, CA junior, “and the other visitors would stop and listen to our songs. The acoustics were amazing, as were the architecture and grandness of the castle.”
The choir’s next stop was in Austria at Bogenhofen, an Adventist language school and seminary. Opus performed for the community and the Adventist high school/college during Vespers and Sabbath services. By their applause, the local congregation and students showed that they thoroughly enjoyed what they heard.
On Saturday night, the Bogenhofen Student Association planned a mixer for their students and the CA students, which was followed by an indoor soccer game.
“We have forged a sisterhood with Bogenhofen and their students,” explains Brent Baldwin, CA principal. “Last year and this year [about one month after Opus returned], several Bogenhofen high school students visited the CA campus for two weeks in the spring. In return, their host families are invited to send their high school students to Bogenhofen during the summer. This short-term exchange program has created friendships despite the distance. From the moment we stepped off the bus to the time we had to leave for our next part of the tour, our students and theirs found commonalities and learned about each other’s cultures.”
Upon leaving the Austrian school, the group headed one hour south to the city of Salzburg. Julie Wiegel, Language School director at Bogenhofen, served as a tour guide while Opus made several Sound of Music movie stops, and sang some of their sacred songs in the Sound of Music cathedral.
“In addition to the wedding cathedral, we got to see the home of the von Trapp family, the ‘Sixteen Going on Seventeen’ gazebo, and the cemetery where the children hid,” said Jamie Henderson, CA senior. “On the bus ride to these sites, the entire group sang the Sound of Music songs together — with Mr. Baldwin belting out the songs the loudest … Who knew?!”
In Salzburg, the students also visited several of Austria’s historic sites, such as the birthplace of Mozart, and performed for visitors in another cathedral. By divine appointment, the students were able to be a part of its 15-minute midday, multi-denominational service.
“Mr. Beasley, CA biology teacher and parent of an Opus member, was instrumental in talking with the leaders in many of the cathedrals to give us permission to sing in them,” said Hope Hunnicut, CA junior. “Singing in the cathedrals was an amazing experience — both in getting to minister to the guests and in marveling over the sounds we could make in those grandiose and ornate places.”
“Watching God use Opus to permeate cultural boundaries with the language of music leaves me forever changed,” exclaimed choir director Bishop. “What an epic experience!”
Georgia-Cumberland | July 2018