One of the major benefits for American University students is the opportunity for cross-cultural and international exchanges. The AU Chamber Singers will be partaking in their own cultural experience this spring as they embark on a two-week concert tour of Russia.
American University’s Initiative for Russian Culture in the College of Arts and Sciences promotes greater understanding of the Russian culture’s richness. It was designed to build lasting connections between Russians and Americans “by reaching out to their hearts and minds.”
“[Dean Peter Starr] took a look at the initiative and approached me saying that he didn’t want it to be a one-way street,” says Daniel Abraham, director of choral activities at AU and conductor of the AU Chamber Singers. “He said that while we do bring some wonderful Russian artists to work with our students, we also need to bring some of what we do in the music field to Russia.”
The AU Chamber Singers have a lengthy history of touring, with many trips to Latin America in the 1960s and 1970s. More recently, they have embarked on two more international tours, one to Hungary and Romania, and one to Spain and Portugal.
The opportunity to tour Russia is an exciting one for Abraham. He is looking forward to going out into the smaller areas and sharing a cultural exchange with people who are not constantly exposed to American music. “The more that we go to places on tour,” he says, “we find the most energizing places for cultural exchange tend to be when you get a little farther out of the cities and into the places where the people haven’t been exposed to the American culture every day. We have discovered that there is a ripe possibility for cultural diplomacy and understanding through these kinds of tours, and this tour is no exception.”