“A Mighty Fortress is Our God” … this beloved hymn written by Martin Luther reverberated throughout the historic Castle Church on Reformation Day, 2017. Valpo students, alumni, and friends joined congregants to sing the hymn in both German and English. For some, it was their first time in Germany. Others returned to reminisce and walk the cobblestone streets of a now-unified Germany and hear the glorious praises sung to God by Valpo’s Chorale on this most special day.
Students and alumni reflected upon their travel to Germany with the Valparaiso University Chorale. Here is a sampling of the responses shared on the University’s social media accounts.
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Performing great music in such historic churches, most notably the St. Thomas Church and the Castle Church (Wittenberg), with the Chorale is among the greatest highlights of my career. While the performances are indelibly etched in my memory, I can honestly say that the deepest and most beautiful experiences for the Chorale have often been when we sang in these amazing buildings, alone, with no audience present
Christopher Cock, Ph.D., professor of music, Phyllis and Richard Duesenberg Chair in Lutheran Music, and director of the Bach Institute and choral and vocal activities
One of my fondest memories was in 2012 at an outdoor service in Mark Zwuschen. There was a small service folder with the call and response prayers listed, and one of them was ‘Denn bei Dir ist die Quelle des Lebens, und in Deinem Lichte sehen wir das Licht,’ or ‘For in you is the fountain of light. In your light we see light.’ It was a serendipitous coincidence and one that I will never forget.
Stephanie Sepiol ’13
We toured Martin Luther country with Valpo alumni in 2000. It was a great experience.
Sharon Garlisch ’64 Grams
My favorite memory was singing in the Castle Church on Reformation Day! To be able to see where Martin Luther posted the 95 Theses and see where so much history took place was amazing and something I will never forget.
Lizzie Heisler ’21
Traveling to Germany with the Chorale to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the reformation and having the opportunity to sing in historic places such as the Castle Church in Wittenberg and the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig was a deeply gratifying academic and spiritual experience. Being in the places where the Protestant Reformation began put the idea of being a student at a Lutheran university in perspective. This tour was one of the highlights of my experience at Valparaiso University and I will always treasure the memories from this trip.
Sarah Crowe ’19
We toured East Germany with the choir in 1978. Our hotel room in Leipzig had a radio with only three stations. There was no television. We were told to stay with the East German tour guide, and not to leave the hotel. But a group of us snuck out late and went to a disco. We met lots of students from Karl Marx University, who, of course, all spoke English. They had never met an American before, and they all wanted to talk with us. It goes without saying, we didn’t tell Eldon Balko about it.
James Beres ’78
In 2017, the Chorale was honored as the only international choir present at this historic occasion in Wittenberg, Germany. This trip was incredibly special and sealed my fate as a future music educator. As we performed in Germany, my heart was filled with an elation I had never felt before. I remember after the Reformation concert in the Castle Church on the 31st, President Heckler addressed the Chorale saying, “I will never forget this day.” I, too, will never forget that day or any moment of that trip. I truly felt God in these moments I shared with my peers as we sang in these beautiful spaces.
Luke McGinnis ’20