Newton residents will get a rare treat in having a chance to hear Central College’s famous 70-voice A Cappella Choir at First Lutheran Church this Sunday.
Each member has to audition for his or her part in the choir, which features two Newton natives in Chloe Gearhart and Music Department Chair and Director of Choral Activities Mark Babcock.
Babcock has been at Central for 14 years, but never forgot his roots and is happy to perfrom in his hometown.
“I was born and raised in Newton,” Babcock said. “My mother still teaches kindergarten in Newton.”
The choir has grown in popularity over the years. They hand-select their members and have traveled to many parts of the world including Europe and Mexico.
“The best thing about the choir is that it is a select choir,” he said. “There is a waiting list for all parts of the choir. It is a really strong choir. This will be our fourth international tour.”
Babcock said this year will mark a major milestone for the choir, which will make its first trip to Brazil.
“We do concerts in large cathedrals, but we (also) connect on local levels,” he said. “Our philosophy is to market academic tourism.”
They often help charities by holding fundraisers for them.
For their Newton concert, choir members will be collecting new and slightly used shoes to help those in need in Brazil.
Babcock said he believes in establishing a connection with communities.
“This concert is in preparation for our tour to Brazil this spring, where we will not only sing in prestigous venues, but will participate in a service project, a shoe drive for Rotary International in Sao Paulo,” Babcok said.
Babcock said it is many new choir members’ first trip outside the U.S., and it can be a bit of a culture shock. He said the trip can open members’ minds and allow them to realize how privileged they are.
“Half of the choir will study abroad for a semester,” he said. “These tours help them to become global citizens. For many, it will be their first trip outside of the county.”
To help the choir connect more on a local level, they sing songs in the country’s native tongue, and rather than just singing it, the choir receives a small language lesson. Babcock said the choir starting doing this in September.
Although traveling may sound like fun, there is a lot of preparation work behind the scenes. Babcock said the international tours are prepared well ahead to ensure the success of the tour.
He said he credits his desire to teach to Tom Netzel, his former choir director at Sacred Heart Church.
First Lutheran Pastor Zachary Bey has been excited about the performance ever since it was announced. He encourages all members of the public to attend, and would like to remind the public it is free and begins at 7 p.m.
First Lutheran Church is located at 309 E. Third St. N. For more information, call (641) 792-3934.