After an eight hour flight, Sunday, June 30, Spencer Dawson arrived in Oxford, England as a student in the week long Oxford Choral Summer Singing School.
Sunday afternoon, he and the other 25 students had their introduction along with dinner and then went to a concert. Alongside Dawson, there were students from 11 different nations, including Germany, New Zealand, Australia, Norway, and Sweden.
Throughout the week, the schedule was the same each day, starting with breakfast, rehearsal, lunch, another rehearsal, tea time before dinner, and a final rehearsal. They covered different time periods of music, beginning with medieval music and ending with 21st century music.
On Saturday instead of rehearsals, the students recorded several works, including “Crossing the Bar” by Hubert Parry, “Bring Us, O Lord” by William Harris, “Dum Transisset Sabbatum” by John Tavener, “When David Heard” by Thomas Weelkes, and “Eternities” by Edmund Rubbra. That evening they had a formal dinner and ceremony celebrating the group and their work.
During the week in between meals and rehearsals, Dawson was able to explore the town of Oxford, including St. Stephen’s House, the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin and the Radcliffe Camera.
“The town of Oxford was so historic,” Dawson said. “It really struck me to be in a city older than my country. The architecture of the city and the colleges is breathtaking.”
“The other students were amazing,” Dawson said. “It was an honor to work with people of such caliber. That week I was fortunate to experience the best choral music I have ever been a part of.
“One night we were able to rehearse John Stainer’s “I saw the Lord” in New College Chapel. It was surreal to sing a piece of music written in the very place it was composed. I will never forget singing in those choir stalls with the giant organ playing overhead.”
Dawson is not the only one ecstatic about his experience at Oxford.
“I’m very proud of Spencer,” said Dr. David Sharlow, director of choral music. “I think he’s got a great future ahead of him.
“He’s a gifted musician and leader. I think he’s going to make a fine conductor that’s something that will be a foundation for him in the future.”
Along with attending Oxford as a student that week, the experience taught him a lot about himself.
“It was very comforting to know that my education at MSSU has prepared me to sing with such an elite group. I came back from this trip with an even greater passion and love for choral music.