I apologize in advance if this entire post sounds like an advertisement. I am not on commission from the Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey! Our 14-year-old son, who discovered he's a bass not a tenor, just spent two weeks at Westminster's Vocal Institute, sleeping in the dorms of this school and spending his days singing with 101 other high school students, who traveled as far as Florida to attend. If you have a child with a penchant for singing, and money in your family budget (there are also scholarships available) consider this camp. It was truly transformative for our son. Dr. Amanda Quist started the Vocal Institute four years ago with 50 students. Given the state of our economy, it's quite a testament to her and the other professionals that it was doubled in size already.
My husband and I came to pick Lucas up Saturday morning after the final concert at Princeton University Chapel. We were waiting by his dorms. We spotted him among a group of several boys came strolling across campus, singing Leonard Cohen's "Halleluia" in beautiful harmony. This was a moment of pure grace. I managed to capture it on my iPhone. Check out my facebook wall.
On Sunday, the Vocal Institute had bused the students three hours to Washington, D.C. to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum , where the students sang in Hebrew for visitors and had time to tour the museum. Here is a snippet from their Saturday morning concert. Just wow. What dedicated professionals can draw from a group of high school students. The second song is from a poem scratched in a wall at Auschwitz.
"I believe in the sun when it isn’t shining.
I believe in love even when I don’t feel it.
I believe in God even when He's silent.”
As a post script: Our sons are generally the only Mass-attending Catholics at the various sleep-away camps they have attended through the years and we have always had to arrange for them to be taken to Mass by one of the adult leaders. This time, I arranged for Lucas' former middle school choir teacher to take him to her parish during this camp. That was unnecessary.
About a third of the campers went to Mass together on Sunday with adult chaperones. Other campers, Lucas told us, chose to participate in a Bible study. I imagine it felt good for him not to feel like a freakish fish out of water who had to leave camp and go to Sunday Mass alone.
And another thing: "One thing I am trying to adjust to is not being able to eat ice cream out of a solo cup at every meal," Lucas last night.