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UND concert choir spreads musical joy across the Caribbean island nation

concert-choir_insideBy Kate Menzies University & Public Affairs student writer From UND

The University of North Dakota’s concert choir knows no bounds.

With a sound that carries beyond domestic borders, this group knows how to ignite a crowd. Inspired by a recent partnership between the American Choral Directors Association and Cuba, the UND concert choir traveled to the Caribbean Island nation to show off their musical chops and perform with various local choirs.

The group departed for Cuba in late May of this year and throughout its time on the island the choir was able to attend educational clinics, workshops and cross-cultural exchanges with local universities and music conservatories.

This once-in-a-lifetime experience provided students with the opportunity to learn about a different culture, while honing their vocal skills. The collaboration with various local groups allowed students to exchange musical ideas and concepts.

“The trip was very musically expansive for them,” said UND concert choir director Joshua Bronfman. “It’s important that my students get world experience and cultural exposure.”

Aside from their musical performances, students were able to see some iconic Cuban sights such as Old Havana, Morro Castle and Varadero Beach.

The choir was able to perform for eager audiences, who were amazed by these UND students. Many Cubans had never had the opportunity to listen to an American group before.

“The people in Cuba love music. It’s everywhere. I think that’s part of what makes Cuba so remarkable,” said Bronfman.

The UND concert choir takes a moment to pose for a group picture in Cuba.The UND concert choir takes a moment to pose for a group picture in Cuba.

By touring a different culture, students were able to observe different music and performance styles, along with cultural inflections and variations. The warm reception of the Cuban choirs and audiences helped reaffirm the extraordinary talents of these UND students.

“The excitement of our performances was really an international confirmation of excellence,” said Bronfman.

But experiences like these would not be possible without the generous support of UND and outside donors.

“It was really a blessing that we are able to travel internationally every other year. The support has been phenomenal,” said Bronfman.

The concert choir was able to put North Dakota and UND on map by proving that musical talent exists and flourishes in the remote area of Grand Forks.

In the future, the UND concert choir is considering some Scandinavian nations as possible venues.

“What’s important to me is that wherever we go, we can learn from musicians and directors who are better than us,” said Bronfman.

To learn more about the UND concert choir’s recent trip to Cuba, check out their blog.

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