OC Gospel Choir Takes Flight — Destination: Italy

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A big voice from small town — that’s how rising senior Lakisha Pressley describes the The University of Olivet Gospel Choir. In 2020, the Gospel Choir will take flight for its biggest stage yet: Italy.
The choir was invited to perform in Italy on March 8-14, 2020, by Music Celebrations International (MCI), an organization that aims to raise the level of musicianship and dedication to the performing arts around the globe. While MCI offers performance opportunities to many choirs, very few gospel choirs are hosted.
Alumni are also invited to attend this incredible experience, which highlights time in Rome and Florence. The trip will visit the Colosseum, the Vatican and the Accademia Gallery Museum  and also includes stops at other museums and landmarks, city tours and free time to explore.
“I cannot wait to perform in Italy!” said La’Rae Trice, Gospel Choir director. “I never heard gospel music when I lived in Italy, so it’s baffling to be the one to bring it to Italy. At every venue I visited, I was told that they don’t get gospel music there often but people love it. To sing praises and fill up those churches and squares will be surreal. Sometimes students take advantage of having an experience like this, but sharing it with alumni will help students grasp the importance of the trip.”
In addition to La’Rae’s excitement, students can hardly wait for the trip. Rising sophomore Emily Epps is passionate about gospel music because of the connection it allows her to have with others and God. Now, gospel music will also expand her worldview and understanding of other cultures.
“I was excited when I found out we were going to Italy because I have never traveled out of the country,” Emily said. “I am looking forward to sightseeing, singing in the beautiful buildings and seeing a different culture firsthand. I would encourage a high school student to join the Gospel Choir because it helps you grow so much. I started super shy and it really brought me out of my comfort zone. You make lots of friends and you’re around people who love what you love, too!”
Lakisha, who also serves as the Gospel Choir treasurer, is eager to leave her comfort zone. She’s already thinking about the new experiences she’ll face in Italy and how the trip will influence her learning.
“I am looking forward to everything Italy has to offer!” Lakisha said. “This is an opportunity that will probably be once in a lifetime, so it’s important that we take advantage of it. I’m excited to hear the voices of Italy and any other ensembles that will be singing with us. I fell in love with choral music because of its diversity in different languages and cultures.
“I’m also excited to bond with my fellow singers. Traveling to Italy will definitely open up the minds of all the students. I know that some of my choir mates are afraid of flying in an airplane, but it will only make them stronger. It will broaden the knowledge in every aspect of life in every single one of us.”
Join Fellow Comets for the Trip of a Lifetime — Register Now
“I believe traveling abroad is important for all, especially students,” La’Rae said. “As Americans, we’re very proud of our country, language and heritages. Other nations are as well, and Italy is definitely one of them. The language is beautiful and the food is excellent. In America, we share our history through stories and traditions. Italy’s history is tangible. You walk the same streets and touch the same buildings their ancestors did, and that feeling alone is euphoric.”
The cost of the trip is $3,500 per traveler. To register, a $150 non-refundable deposit is required for each traveler. The remainder of the trip balance is due in monthly payments through December 1, 2019.
Sign up or learn more about this remarkable experience by contacting Samantha Pearl ’00, director of alumni engagement, at alumnirelations@uolivet.edu or 269-749-7644.


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