The hills are alive with the sound of Simpson: choir travels around state to perform


Submitted to the Simpsonian

Simpson College’s choir travelled around Iowa to showcase the student’s talents.

by Jenna Prather, Staff Reporter

Simpson College’s choir traveled around Iowa to perform at three high schools and three churches as a form of outreach and bonding within the choir. The choir also crossed state borders and went to Minneapolis. 

The tour was from March 23-26. They performed at Indianola High School twice, Fort Dodge High School and Waterloo East High School as well as doing three concerts at First United Methodist Church in Fort Dodge, Lovely Lane United Methodist Church in Cedar Rapids and Ames Collegiate United Methodist Church in Ames.

“We did basically a big loop,” Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities Stephanie Council said. “This tour was partially for recruiting new students, partially for building our own existing community and getting Simpson out into the state of Iowa, performing and getting people from all around the state to hear us sing again.”

Due to COVID-19, the music program hasn’t been able to connect with high school level students for two years.

“The trip was a mix of singing with high schools and working with the choirs there, and then we’d also have some concerts performed at churches that allowed us to come in,” junior Miranda Young said. “We just sang our whole set or we’d switch out some songs, but it was a lot of fun getting to go and have fun with the choir.”

The tour began at Indianola High School.

“We sang a song together. The piece that we close our concerts with, ‘The Lord Bless You and Keep You’, they already knew. So, we were able to rehearse it a little bit together with the high school students. And then they sang some of their music for us, so we were able to make some cool connections there,” Council said.

After two performances in Indianola, they traveled to Fort Dodge.

“Fort Dodge has a really strong choral program,” Council said. “Their choir’s about the same size as ours, maybe just a little bit smaller. Their acapella choir was who came to sing with us. And then they also came and sang with us at our concert.”

Following Fort Dodge was a performance at Waterloo East High School. Council chose it as one of their stops, saying not many colleges make an effort to go there.

“There’s a diverse population and not a lot of college choirs have gone to that high school,” Council said. “And so, it was an opportunity to reach out to a new population of students in the state. Their choir is about 26 people and so we were able to teach them one of our songs and sing with them and make those connections.”

Due to COVID-19, the choir was limited in what they could participate in, so to Young, getting to show the choir off and perform around the state was a great experience. 

The choir was also met with a few fun days during the tour as a break from the constant choral activities.

“We spent a day doing a cultural excursion up to Minneapolis where we went to the Walker Art Center,” Council said.  “The students were able to look at that amazing art museum that has a lot of contemporary art. It also has a sculpture garden outside and there’s lots to look at and see.”

The choir also visited the Mall of America while up north and participated in an escape room.

“Students had an opportunity to bond with each other and really, just have a fun time in the mall;I surprised the students with an escape room,” Council said. “So, the entire choir was split up into groups and they all got to do escape rooms together at the same time. And that was a lot of fun too.”

Young’s favorite part of the tour was the concert they had on Friday, March 25.

“We sang in this small Methodist church and there weren’t a ton of people there, but it was the most in-tune our choir has ever been, I would say. We were all very present and there was just this mood and feeling in the room,” Young said. “Like you could feel it in the audience, they were intently watching us. Just really keying into what we were singing and I could just tell they were loving every bit of it. So it created this beautiful setting and atmosphere and overall an amazing concert.”

Council said she was satisfied with the results of the trip, describing how the choir felt connected to the music.

“It was just one of those magical, musical experiences that I know I won’t ever forget. And I know that many students will have that memory with them when they graduate,” Council said. “This will be something that they look back on.” 

40 of the 41 students in choir went on the tour and next year will be the band’s turn to take to the road. The two music groups alternate years for touring so the choir will return to touring again in 2024.