The morning comes too early on Tuesday, but despite our fatigue, we wake up and prepare for the day. We gathered in the church, and though we were sad to go, we departed Lakeside. On the coach once more, we began the two-hour ride to Fostoria. Naps were had as we drove, but we were roused near the end of our trip. Before we arrived at Good Shepherd Care Facility we talked about how the concert we were about to give was special in a few ways. We discussed the power of music and the effect it has on our audience. “The strongest and purest memories are those from youth…our music is a portal to that time for them,” someone said. This set the tone for the concert, leaving us all excited to share our music.
We gathered in a large room in the basement of the main building where an audience was waiting for us. When we began, there were many in the audience who seemed unresponsive, but as the concert progressed, the effect our music had became more evident. When we reached the song, “Side by Side,” Mr. Snyder invited the audience to join in singing if they knew the words. As we sang, more and more members of the audience began to become aware of the music and many sang along. For a moment, the connection we had with the audience was unshakable. There was no division, no difference in body, mind, spirit or voice. All that remained was music, and for that moment, those in the audience returned to a time long gone. That moment soon passed, but its sheer existence was enough to fuel us for the rest of the concert.
Our final song was the “Song of Farewell” and we sent most of the Chorale out into the audience to serenade. Many of us knelt down, looked the residents in the eyes, held their hand, and sang to them. At first, their grips were loose but as the song kept going their grasp became more firm and their eyes began to water. Touched by the emotion we stirred in their hearts, many of us too began to cry.
After the concert ended, we listened to the stories of the residents as we helped them back to their rooms. So many spoke of children and grandchildren we reminded them of, or of the music we had sung being played on the radio when they were young. After it all, we again gathered in the concert room and were served lunch by the staff at Good Shepherd. As we ate, we reflected on the gift our music had brought. We did much more than sing during that concert, we touched lives. We treated the residents with love, knelt down, looked them in the eyes, and we made a connection. For a moment we were, all of us, united in one song and one ideal.
On the road once more, we traveled southwest to Delphos, Ohio, the hometown of Beth Vaughn, the Cardinal Chorale’s assistant director. The Chorale was in awe when the church came into view from the bus; St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church was a towering and beautiful structure and space to have the opportunity to sing in. We then took a short look at the inside, and there we tested the acoustics by singing “The Star Spangled Banner” where our voices carried up into the heights of the church.
We were fortunate enough to have a little bit of downtime where the Chorale gathered to take a tour of the “Museum of Postal History” which is one of only three in the United States. We were greeted by smiling tour guides who were eager to show us around the museum. It was filled with history of how mail and mail men and women have evolved throughout time, which can especially open the eyes to groups of all ages. After the tours, we then walked to a local ice cream shop, The Creamery.
Going on a tangent, we had previously mentioned our new coach driver that Gene recruited for us – Rick. The Cardinal Chorale welcomed Rick with open arms, although he made it very easy for us with his corny jokes and stories. Throughout this tour he has provided us with words of wisdom, as well. As if he was great already, when we went to get ice cream at The Creamery, Rick stuck around until we were all through so he could treat us all to ice cream. Today is only day four, and this man has already touched our lives in so many ways; we are so thankful for him.
After our delicious dinner (yes we had our dessert, ice cream, first!) provided by the church, we prepared ourselves for our final concert of the day. Nerves were in the air, as the Chorale had to adjust our tempo of music due to the churches incredible acoustics. Sometimes I wonder why we even get nervous anymore, because we always end up pulling off the concert as if we had not even struggled just hours before.
The Chorale really took advantage of the space we were in and filled the room with song; some pieces that were especially noteworthy were “Leave No Song Unsung” and “This Is My Father’s World’. Singing in this church with a space such as this was an opportunity some members of the Chorale may never have again. Once the concert concluded, as if it was our duty, the Chorale immediately began recruiting the students in the audience who could also have the potential to perform with the Chorale. More brochures were given and more recruiting was done in this one night than the other nights combined. Our director and staff is so grateful that this tour has made such an impact on the singers already in the Cardinal Chorale, that we want to see it continue to flourish.
Only once more, members of the Chorale met with our final host families of the tour. As usual, they welcomed us with smiling and cheering faces and of course, praises of our concert. After all, this was the first time the Cardinal Chorale has ever performed in Delphos, and what a lovely inaugural concert we gave. They gave us thanks and hopes for our return in the years to come. Tired after a long, but successful four days of tour, the Chorale left with our families and wound down for the evening; a night of rest was much needed for our final day. Thank you, Delphos, for having us and greeting us as if we had been there for years.