Vespers concert plans to travel back and forth from Rapid in one day



Augustana Vespers is hitting the road again this year with a trip that has students both anxious and excited.

Last year was the first time Augustana choir and orchestra students took their Vespers performance off campus. Students traveled up to Rapid City on the last day of finals and stayed overnight, arriving back on campus one day into winter break. This year, students will be traveling there and back in one day the Sunday of Vespers weekend.

“Because it was during the break we got to spend that extra day,” orchestra member and junior Amanda Marohl said.

Because of this condensed trip, students will leave at approximately 9 a.m. Sunday morning. The trip to Calvary Lutheran Church, the performance venue in Rapid City, will take somewhere near five hours. After the arrival, students will have a rehearsal, a catered meal at the church and one performance at 7:30 p.m.

Orchestra and choir members will then take down equipment and reload the buses to return at what Collegiate Chorale conductor Russell Svenningsen estimates to be 6 a.m. Monday morning.

Originally, students were to have stayed in Rapid City overnight, much as they had the year before.

“We had been requested to give people the option of coming back to campus,” Augustana Choir conductor Paul Nesheim said. There were enough people to request an expedient return that it made the most sense for all the members to return that same day.

In addition to the shortened trip, students will now be on their way to Rapid City two weeks earlier.

“One advantage that we saw right away was that students didn’t have to rearrange final exams,” Nesheim said. This change will also allow students who finish finals early to go home as soon as they are done.

Svenningsen sees an added advantage in eliminating the time gap between performances in Sioux Falls and Rapid City.

“Vespers is a lot of music,” Svenningsen said. “Students are in that head space. It’s very hard to bring them back around.”

Nesheim agreed that the decreased time between performances will benefit the quality of the performance.

“Everything will be fresh in minds and voices and instruments,” he said.

Marohl added that the change came as a result of student opinion.

“The students had mentioned it was inconvenient to have it during our Christmas break,” Marohl said. “They did exactly what we wanted them to.”

However, some are feeling the pressure of a Vespers trip that bumps up into the last full week of classes before final exams begin.

“As a student who is very concerned about grades, I’m really feeling the stress,” Collegiate Chorale member and sophomore Jesse Nelson said.

The music administration put an emphasis on students missing as little class as possible, Svenningsen said.

However, Nelson also acknowledges that Vespers travel is important in terms of recruiting and promoting the program and in allowing music members to travel with their talents.

“The stress that goes into preparing for it is worth the benefit of the trip,” Nelson said.

Senior Augustana Choir member Arianna Groen sums up student reactions to the changes to the Vespers performance in Rapid City.

“That’s going to be interesting to see how it works,” she said. “It’s so chaotic. It’s not always about us; it’s about spreading the beautiful message.”