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Chamber Singers perform in Puerto Rico

Published on March 23, 2023

Chamber Singers perform in Puerto Rico

Bellas Artes
Eastern's Chamber Singers perform with singers from Escuela de Bellas Artes in Bayamόn, Puerto Rico.

During spring break, many college students like to vacation somewhere warm, and this year, Eastern Connecticut State University’s Chamber Singers were no exception. The performing group traveled to San Juan, Puerto Rico for a trip that included three performances.

Eastern’s Chamber Singers, directed by David Belles, professor of music, tour during spring break annually. Last year’s tour stops included Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

This year’s itinerary included two performances at the Parroquia Stella Maris, a Catholic church in San Juan. The tour’s final performance took place on March 13 at Escuela de Bellas Artes in Bayamόn, a performing arts school.

A beach in Puerto Rico that Eastern's Chamber Singers visited.

While the tour included three performances, “it was more like three and a half,” said junior Mya Millbauer, a singer who went on the trip. “It was like three full-on concerts and we were singing for a mass, but we were up in the rafters.”

“We just did some of our pieces that were on the religious side for the church’s service, then it just proceeded like a normal service,” said sophomore Anna Tino.

The singers were also able to engage with members of high school ensembles from Escuela de Bellas Artes and Escuela de Libre de Música in San Juan. When they performed in Bayamόn, they “went up afterward and mingled with everybody,” said Tino.

The performances in Puerto Rico were much different from the performances on last year’s tour, which were at high schools in the eastern United States. “Last year, it felt like we were just singing for our peers,” said junior Grace Michalowski, “and this time, it felt at least more to me like we were actually sharing our music with other people.”

Audiences were not the only difference on this year’s tour. “Puerto Rico felt more like a vacation,” said senior Sierra McElroy, whereas last year’s tour was more like a “camping trip.”

For Tino, “any time that we all spent together” was the best part of the trip. “Every day, we would all hang out by the pool and talk to each other,” she said. McElroy also enjoyed “getting to know everybody a little more.”

“My favorite part, I would have to say, was the ocean,” said Millbauer, who was “raised on the beach.”

Eastern Chamber Singers perform in Parroquia Stella Maris.

The traveling group of Eastern Chamber Singers.


Michalowski’s favorite part of the trip also involved social interaction. One day, the group went to an alley with a mosaic-tiled wall behind a café in Old San Juan. “We sat there and just had a discussion for two and a half hours, drinking coffee and lots of apple juice,” said Michalowski.

In Puerto Rico, the Chamber Singers had many conversations and told many stories. Belles took the time to listen to his students share stories, including junior Chris Gregor. “A year ago, would I have dreamed of telling anybody (my life story)? No,” said Gregor.

“We grew close enough to be able to share personal stories,” said Michalowski. Though the Chamber Singers spent spring break performing far from Eastern’s campus, they grew closer to each other in the process.

Written by Noel Teter

Categories: Arts, Music