College of the Ozarks Chapel Choir on a Choir Trip to AlaskaChris Forsythe
An Alaska Choir Trip: Stunning mountains, crisp, clean air, captivating northern lights, blue glaciers, and crystal clear lakes are calling your name. It’s time to answer the call. The College of the Ozarks Chapel Choir certainly did, singing all the way! Follow this talented group on its performance tour of the 49th State!
Twice the size of Texas and covering a landmass equal to the combined area of the 22 smallest U.S. states, Alaska has much to explore and experience. With panoramic postcard views, it boasts 17 of the 20 highest peaks in North America. Majestic, cloud-catching Denali tops them all at 20,310 feet. A choir trip to Alaska definitely brings voices to new heights!
Alaska’s land is truly beautiful, but one also must search the sky for the colorful, ever-evolving northern lights. The best time to view this spectacular light show is between August and April, when Alaska experiences its greatest darkness – sometimes 24 hours-worth in one day. Alaska has the most daylight hours per year in North America. From May to September it’s sunny nearly around the clock. Hence, Alaska’s nickname, “Land of the Midnight Sun.”
With 44 students, 8 staff, and an MTC Tour Director, the College of the Ozarks Chapel Choir flew from Kansas City, MO to Anchorage, AK. The excitement began to build as the group checked into its hotel after a long day of travel. Rest was a priority before beginning touring the next day.
How better to kick-off an Alaskan adventure, than to meet native Alaskan animals? The group toured a Musk Ox Farm, surrounded by mountains and home to an Ice Age mammal that once roamed the earth alongside saber-tooth tigers and woolly mammoths. The musk ox produces qiviut (kiv’-ee-ute), one of the finest wools in the world, eight times warmer than sheep’s wool and softer than cashmere.
After a quick lunch in Palmer, the College of the Ozarks Chapel Choir performed for residents at the Alaska Veterans and Pioneers Home. Then it departed for Denali National Park, where wildlife like moose, black bears, and grizzly bears may be spotted amidst the backdrop of greenery and majestic mountains. On the way to the national park, the Chapel Choir sang at the Alaska Veteran’s Memorial in an outdoor grove in Denali State Park. Then it was on to its rooms in Denali National Park for the night.
Following a busy second day, the College of the Ozarks Chapel Choir kept up the pace on day three. First, it took a guided tour of Denali National Park to learn more about its vast landscape, geology, and history. Afterward, the group ate lunch and explored other areas of Denali Park. The day concluded at the Alaska Cabin Nite Dinner Theatre. After a tasty meal and a chance to sing for the guests, everyone enjoyed the show, a rousing tale of the gold rush and adventure, performed in an authentic log cabin in the Miners Plaza in Denali Park Village.
On day four the group set off for Talkeetna, AK, aboard the Deluxe Dome rail car. The train’s tour guide was entertaining, and the Chapel Choir learned much about Talkeetna’s history. Stepping off the train, they explored Talkeetna, a popular center for hiking, mountain biking, camping, flight-seeing, rafting and more. Before long, it was time to drive by motor coach to Wasilla, on the shores of Lucile Lake, to spend the night.
The next day, the College of the Ozarks Chapel Choir headed south to Seward, traveling through the Chugach National Forest and along scenic Turnagain Arm. After a stop to visit the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, the group drove through Kenai Fjords National Park. Here they enjoyed a luncheon cruise on Resurrection Bay that took them deeper into Kenai Fjords National Park. Back on dry land, they continued their journey to Anchorage.
Day six was Sunday, and it began with morning worship and performance by the College of the Ozarks Chapel Choir at Anchorage Lutheran Church. After a quick lunch, the group toured the city of Anchorage and Lake Hood/Lake Spenard, the world’s busiest floatplane base. They also visited the Alaska Native Heritage Center, to learn more about Alaska’s native culture and traditions. Near the end of the day, the Chapel Choir returned to Anchorage Lutheran Church to give a second performance, followed by dinner at noted Anchorage restaurant, ORSO.
On Monday, the College of the Ozarks Chapel Choir sang at the Alaska Pioneers of Anchorage Memorial Day Ceremony. After some free time for exploring and shopping, the group viewed a movie,”AurorA-Alaska’s Great Northern Lights” at the Sydney Laurence Theatre at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts. Created by Dave Parkhurst, one of the first photographers to capture the northern lights on film, it features thousands of his photos streamed together and choreographed to an original music score.
After a full week of exploring Alaska, the group spent day eight at Eklutna Lake. Kayaking at Turquoise Lake, the Chapel Choir enjoyed a delicious lunch on the far side of the lake before going on a breathtaking hike. They also had the opportunity to Mountain Bike on a trail alongside the lake. Next stop, the Glenn-Massey Theater on the campus of the University of Alaska’s Mat-Su College. The College of the Ozarks Chapel Choir gave a great concert performance as the featured ensemble that evening!
After a successful performance tour, and with a permanent imprint of Alaska’s breathtaking scenery and rich culture etched into their minds, the College of the Ozarks Chapel Choir members flew from Anchorage to Kansas City. After meeting its motor coach, the Chapel Choir returned to campus. None of them will forget the glorious days they shared in Alaska!
“Working with Chris and his team at Music Travel Consultants was an absolute blessing for our Alaska Trip. The Chapel Choir has been on several trips throughout the United States and Europe, but this trip was probably the best we have taken. As the Director, I know that we want to eliminate any problems on the tour which can distract from our music. In this situation, the entire trip ran smoothly for us, from our bus travel to securing some musical instruments, to every one of our performance locations. I cannot recommend this group highly enough.
At College of the Ozarks, we look at more than putting together a concert tour. We really want to immerse the students in the local culture. Our itinerary included several locations where everyone got to enjoy the incredible scenery of Alaska, as well as the chance to have time with the people who live in Alaska. There are so many highlights for us. The train to Talkeetna, AK, aboard the Deluxe Dome rail car and being able to see Denali was spectacular. However, the time we spent at the Alaska Veterans home was deeply meaningful for all of us. And I appreciated Chris Forsythe for understanding our goals and arranging for the concert and time with these amazing men and women.
We serve at C of O as the Chapel Choir and wanted to ensure that we could share in worship while we were in Alaska. Chris made certain that could happen for us and arranged for worship and an afternoon concert at the Anchorage Lutheran Church. Everyone there was so warm and friendly. They made us feel truly at home. And can I say that our final program at the Glenn Massey Theater was far more than we ever expected! Once again, spectacular.
My encouragement to other groups looking for a wonderfully unique place to tour would be to choose Alaska. We often look beyond our borders to other countries, but I believe that we have so much to celebrate within our country as well. It was a challenge to find a Music Travel company that understood what we were looking for when we had decided to travel to visit Alaska, and I will always be grateful to Music Travel Consultants for their energy, understanding, and commitment to putting this tour together. They really do live up to their name as being not only Music Travel Consultants but recognizing the importance of Educational at the same time.”