ETSU Chorale, Greyscale raising funds for European performance tour

Published 1:14 pm Thursday, July 8, 2021

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JOHNSON CITY — Students with the East Tennessee State University Chorale, along with the a cappella group Greyscale, are making travel plans to compete internationally next year and sing at some of Europe’s grand cathedrals alongside the world’s best choirs, and they are looking for public support to help fund this once-in-a-lifetime journey.
The multiple international award-winning ETSU Chorale most recently competed for Choir of the World in 2019 at the International Choral Competition in Wales, UK. In Summer 2022, they will have the opportunity to travel to Bratislava, Slovakia, where they will again represent ETSU on an international stage, not only in competition but also in performances at Prague, Budapest and Vienna.
The ETSU Chorale will compete under the direction of Dr. Matthew Potterton, while Greyscale will compete in the pop/jazz category under the direction of Dr. Alan Stevens. ETSU’s award-winning Greyscale most recently made it to the quarter finals of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA), made famous by the movie “Pitch Perfect.”
“The quality of music-making our ETSU choirs produce is world class,” said Potterton, professor and chair of the Department of Music in the university’s College of Arts and Sciences. “In 2019, the Chorale competed in their first International Choir Competition in Llangollen, Wales. This is one of the oldest and most prestigious competitions in the world. ETSU Chorale took first place in two categories and second place in a third. We were incredibly excited to not only represent ETSU but the United States on this world stage. I competed in the same competition as a college student nearly 30 years before, then I conducted on the same stage.”
Having asked students to journal their experiences on the 2019 trip, Potterton said the general theme is that their experience was life-changing.
“Many of our students had never left the region and some had never been on a plane,” added Potterton. “Now they were in another country, representing ETSU and the USA. Experiences like this can’t be taught in the classroom and these students will never forget them.”
Kaitlyn Hopkins, a 2020 graduate who participated in the 2019 competition, described the experience of traveling abroad as eye-opening.
“It’s incredible to walk into another culture and see the similarities and differences between our culture and theirs. I believe there are some things one can only learn by experience. I learned more about what it means to be an American ‪in one week than I have in my entire life, and I have a new pride for our country after singing our National Anthem in Wales on our Independence Day,” said Hopkins. “One cool experience included introducing a group of Malaysian girls to s’mores! We also sang for them, and they taught us one of the folk dances from Malaysia. I will definitely share my experience and what I learned for years to come.”
Potterton pointed out that the experience would not have been possible without community support, and he encouraged individuals again to reach out and help make the upcoming Bratislava trip a reality.
“That trip (to Llangollen) would not have been possible without the generous support of our community,” added Potterton. “If one has ever been on a band or choir tour, they know the impact that this has on one’s life. It truly is life-changing. I hope the community will help continue to bring these kinds of experiences to our students. Both choirs have already started preparing so we can show the world what ETSU has to offer. We are all very excited!”
The 46-member choir performs in a variety of styles and genres, ranging from music of the Renaissance to newly composed works.  Its members are chosen through a selective audition process and must be dedicated to the highest levels of artistry.
Donations may be made by clicking the following link:
For more information, contact the ETSU Department of Music at 423-439-4270 or  

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