Winston-Salem Youth Chorus gets education in Vienna, Austria

Some members of the Winston-Salem Youth Chorus take a break in Vienna, Austria. They are (left to right): Sophia Espenilla, Tyler Zickmund, Dr. Sonja Sepulveda, Sierra Davis, Adria Faulkner, Kim Faulkner, Sarah Hair, Hannah Hair and John Tahtinen.

Winston-Salem Youth Chorus gets education in Vienna, Austria
August 25
06:15 2016

Photo provided by Winston-Salem Youth Chorus



How many children ages 10-18 have the opportunity to sing major choral musical works with full orchestra and other adults in a foreign country?

Thirty-one members of the Winston-Salem Youth Chorus (WSYC) just had that once in a lifetime experience this past June when they performed Vivaldi’s “Magnificat,” Shubert’s “Mass in G,” Haydn’s “Te Deum,” Beethoven’s “Choral Fantasia” and Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” in Vienna, Austria.

Dr. Sonja Sepulveda, Artistic Director, had the honor of conducting a few of the pieces in addition to other renown guest conductors as a part of the Vienna music festival performed in the historic St. Peter’s Church and Minoriten Church.

“A performing tour of Europe really bonds a group together. It is an opportunity for shared experiences, musical and spiritual growth, learning, exploring, fun and fellowship,” Dr. Sepulveda said. “It was indeed an experience of a lifetime for these students of diverse backgrounds and ages. It also fulfills one of our missions as ambassadors for Winston-Salem, North Carolina and America. We represent all that is good and best in American young people and from this area of the country.”

Dr. Sepulveda reflected on the trip, saying, “The majestic churches where we sang, the orchestras, the musical works, the artists, the choirs and historic places where we stood, created sounds and feelings that were almost too much to take in.”

Each singer that participated from the Winston-Salem Youth Chorus not only grew musically, but each had their own personal or spiritual growth that will stay with them forever. Here are some of their reflections on their experiences.


“My dream is to travel the world and sing and per-form, and I was able to live that dream at 15 years old. [It is] A privilege I know that many will never know. How is it that people from all over the world can create music together and bring such light into this dark world? One of our coordinators said, ‘When words and music come together, it turns darkness into light’ and that is exactly what we did, every day, every time we opened our mouth and every time the sound rose when we sang, so hard our bodies shook with the effort, we made the darkness turn into light.”


“This trip has been especially fantastic! I enjoyed all of the repertoire that we sang and enjoyed the ability to sing these works in the beautiful cathedrals that they were meant to be performed in. This and an appreciation for this type of choral music are the two things that are difficult to find in the U.S. The comradere of our chorus just shows that music can bring together people from all walks of life.”


“This trip did amazing things for me, more than I expected it to do. I found my connection. I found once again the reason I started to sing and the reason my love for music was so strong. This trip also helped me step out of my comfort zone and create friendships that will last a lifetime. One of my favorite things that Dr. Sonj said during the trip was ‘It’s not just about the music, it’s about the life lessons you will learn and the long lasting friendships you will make.’ We all came from different places but we came together as one big group and bonded through our love or music.”

Lori Prescott is executive director of The Winston-Salem Youth Chorus, which starts it’s new season on Aug. 29. For more information about how to be a part of the Winston-Salem Youth Chorus, call 336-703-0001 or visit the website at

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