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Evangel Concert Choir performs groundbreaking concerts in Cuba

June 12, 2012 | Valorie Coleman

The Evangel University Concert Choir performed a series of groundbreaking concerts in Cuba, May 5-12, visiting several key cities including Havana, Ciego de Avila, Camaguey and Holguin.

“We were scheduled for five concerts, but by invitation, we sang everywhere we went,” says Sharon Wilkins, choir director. “The unplanned mini-concerts occurred in both the Miami and Havana airports, on the airplane, in restaurants, hotels, cathedrals and in the streets,” she says.

Evangel choir member Angeline Bradford described the setting: “Cuba is unique in that many of its original Colonial buildings still stand, and the majority of cars seen in the country are from the 1950s.

Cuban taxi

The entire Evangel University Concert Choir toured Ciego de Avila by “bici taxi,” including choir director Sharon Wilkins and her husband, Springfield businessman Phil Wilkins. Driving the taxi is a member of the Cuban choir which toured with the Evangel students. These fellow vocalists quickly became brothers and sisters in the Lord.

“When we walked out of the airport, if felt as though we were stepping back in time. It’s a beautiful country with beautiful people, and it definitely affected my worldview.”

The 26-member student choir and six accompanying adults toured throughout the entire island. 

“One of the unique aspects of this concert tour is that we had a 13-voice, Cuban choir traveling and performing with us,” Wilkins says. “They perform very exciting and musically intricate music. Their Christian faith is beautifully expressed through the excellence of their musicianship.”

Choir member Ana Pierce says, “It was so neat to see how a group of complete strangers and foreigners became our brothers and sisters within just a week’s time.”

They spoke very little English and the EU team spoke very little Spanish.

“The opportunity to make friends and perform music together, while learning about their culture, will leave a lasting impression on all of us,” Wilkins says. “Performing music for people of other cultures is very exciting, but making music together united us on a spiritual level.”

Bradford stressed that young people should travel if they can.

“I think it is imperative for us to visit another country and experience other cultures in this way,” she says. “After a trip like this, I don’t think it’s possible to come back home and look at your world in the same way.”

TOP PHOTO CAPTION: Several members of the Evangel Concert Choir visited a daycare in Havana, including Krystelle Arneson. These children were entertained by the activities on the street.

By Valorie Coleman, assistant director of public relations for Evangel University

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