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Grand Monadnock Youth Choirs singers will perform in Spain

  • The Cecilia Ensemble has previously performed across Europe, including cities like Prague and Florence. —COURTESY GRAND MONADNOCK YOUTH CHOIRS

  • Esther Rhoades leads the Cecilia Ensemble during a spring performance in 2021. —COURTESY OF BETH SIMMONS

  • Members of the Cecilia Ensemble hosted an outdoor performance earlier this year. —COURTESY OF CHEETAH DESIGN

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 8/25/2022 9:04:42 AM
Modified: 8/25/2022 9:01:06 AM

The Grand Monadnock Youth Choirs’ Cecilia Ensemble is planning to return to Europe after a two-year COVID hiatus.

Next April, 23 ensemble members will be traveling to Spain to perform in streets and venues throughout Barcelona and Madrid. The ensemble is working with Encore Tour and the American Council of International Studies, and formal rehearsals in preparation for the trip start the beginning of September.

Grand Monadnock Youth Choirs (GYMC) has four choirs that welcome students in grades four to 12. The Cecilia Ensemble features high school treble singers from throughout the region who specialize in romantic and classical music throughout the ages. In past years, members of the ensemble performed in major cities across Europe, including Prague and Rome.

For some students, funding the international trips are a challenge. GMYC Artistic Director Esther Rhoades said she is attempting to raise $15,000 to give her singers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel abroad.

“International travel has always been a part of Cecilia Ensemble,” said Rhoades. “It’s such a rewarding and unique experience. A lot of people wouldn’t be able to travel without Cecilia.”

In February 2020, the ensemble traveled to Italy for an eight-day concert tour through Venice, Lucca and Rome. Due to the rapid spread of COVID-19 in Venice during the choir’s trip, the band was only able to perform three formal performances with a limited audience, some with crowds as small as five people. The choir was forced to quarantine at home for 10 days after the trip, and the ensemble was at a standstill.

In 2021, the ensemble performed a homecoming concert on Father’s Day weekend to commemorate a successful trip despite COVID-19 complications, but the yearly international trips were put on hold for two years.

Rhoades said she’s looking forward to giving her students the opportunity to perform internationally once again.

“I feel excited and cautious because of COVID policies always changing. Having kids experience highly emotional and culturally important moments can impact how they see the world. It’s an incredible change,” said Rhoades.


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