Park City alums going to the Olympics
May 2, 2008
Park City will continue its proud Olympic tradition this summer, but this time local representatives won’t bring skis; they will bring their finely tuned vocal chords.
Kim Tosti, Megan Gonzalves and Ashley Elthri all Park City-bred students at Westminster College will accompany the Westminster Chamber Singers to China this summer for an extension of the Cultural Olympics. The Chamber Singers have previously performed throughout much of Europe and routinely sing in churches around Utah. This trip, however, will constitute their first to Asia.
All 32 members of the choir are expected to make the trip and even some of the group’s alumni are scheduled to join them on the stage. While in China the chorus will play at Westminster’s "sister" schools; Nankai University in Tianjin and Donghua University in Shanghai. They will also join the Olympic tribute concert scheduled July 1 in Beijing.
The road to Beijing began for the choir six years ago when the group presented an orchestral piece at Carnegie Hall in New York City. The conductor, a major presence in New York music, Eric Knapp, took notice of the group. After being named director for an orchestral performance for the Cultural Olympics in Beijing this summer, Knapp called Christopher Quinn, director of the Chamber Singers and invited them to join two performances in China.
Around the same time, Westminster College solidified its status as sister school to the above two Chinese universities. The administration told Quinn that he absolutely had to take advantage of this invitation and pay a visit to these sister schools before performing in the Cultural Olympics.
The Cultural Olympics are a prelude to the Summer Olympics. All of the events are designed as pre-celebrations meant to get people into the Olympic spirit. In some previous years, these events were held during the actual Olympics.
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During their trip the choir will sing a lengthy repertoire of American music with pieces inspired by folk, jazz, Broadway and gospel, just to name a few. Quinn hopes their selection will make them ambassadors of American culture and allow them to bring new music to people in China.
The choir will begin intensive rehearsals in the next few weeks. Westminster students just finished their finals this week and now enter a special session of instruction in May. During this session, choir members will specifically address their repertoire for the trip.
Park City High School graduate Kim Tosti said that she routinely spends hours a week practicing anyway. Some weeks, even during school, Tosti will find herself spending as much as 15 hours honing her skills. A tremendous commitment for a college student, Tosti finds the time because she said music is the "one thing in life that makes my heart soar."
Although most of the students involved in the choir were ecstatic when they were informed that the group was selected to sing in China, the trip came with the significant price tag of $100,000. On a student’s typical starved budget, this cost could be prohibitive, consequently, the chorus has held fundraisers to try and assuage the costs for students. So far, they have raised a total of $85,000 and need the other $15,000 to drop the cost per student below $1,000.
To raise funds the chorus have performed in churches and other venues in Utah and will hold a special Mother’s Day concert on May 10 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church at 1505 White Pine Canyon Rd in Park City at 7:30 p.m. General admission for the event will cost $10 and student tickets will be $8.