Ensemble Retreat creates inseparable bond

Twenty-four voices blend in harmony, not a pitch out of place. They are dressed in identical black robes, yet all of them come from completely different backgrounds. How can they sing together if they’re all so different? How can they manage to make their distinct voices seem inextricable from the overall melody of the song? They know the song by heart, but that’s not what brings them together. Then how can they manage to make their voices sound like euphony rather than cacophony? Perhaps it is because they now share a bond that cannot be separated, just like their voices.

In order to bring these voices in sync, the Westminster Ensemble headed over to Big Canoe in Jasper, Georgia, from Aug. 11 to Aug. 13. Singing was the main focus of the trip.

“You’re basically singing from when you get up to when you go to bed,” said sophomore Henry Rosenblath.

They sang songs such as, “I Want to Walk as a Child,” “Gloria,” and “Ubi Caritas.” They sang songs in places like the beach, the cabins, and a church. Although the boys and the girls stayed in separate cabins, the majority of their time was spent together.

“The only time we spent apart was from when we were supposed to sleep to when it was time to wake up,” said sophomore Emily Seo.

When they were not practicing their art, the vocalists spent time with each other, whether it was on the beach or in their cabins.

“[The beach on the lake] had an inflatable obstacle course, and they transformed this downward creek into a water slide,” said junior Sang-Mi Lee. “They had canoes and kayaks too.”

Their fun time on the beach brought the ensemble closer together than ever. They spent an entire day on the beach getting to know one another and their unique personalities. These interactions tied the group together and gave them an experience they would never forget.

Another place that the people bonded was in their cabins.

“We played some card games, and watched YouTube videos in this really old television that had YouTube on it for some reason,” said Rosenblath.

In order to memorize everyone’s names, the ensemble “described themselves with an adjective that started with the same letter that their name started with.” These games helped them fuse their voices together so they could sing together as friends. Their camaraderie deepened the richness and quality of their songs.

“In the girls’ cabin, we just all talked together and had a good time,” said Seo.

The stories that they shared gave the ensemble members a glimpse into other people’s outlooks on life and their experiences.

“A lot of funny inside jokes also sprouted,” said Lee. “This gave the members the ability to shed their skins and let their true voice in their heart shine through.”

For the underclassmen, this was the first time they got to spend time with the upperclassmen, the people they would spend every week with.

“I had been in shows with upperclassmen before, but I had never really spoken to them before the ensemble trip,” said Seo.

This trip fostered many friendships that will last long after they finish their ensemble journey. The underclassmen will rely on their elders to help them through their hardships and disappointments throughout the year, in singing as well in in everyday life.

For the upperclassmen, the chance to guide their younger members gave them a feeling of importance and responsibility they did not have in their previous years.

“It’s a really great group, and everyone’s really talented,” said Lee. “It was really fun to get to know all of the sophomores, and I feel like the group worked out really well.”

The upperclassmen rose to the challenge when it came to welcoming the sophomores, making them feel at home.

The bonds and memories that the ensemble shared brought them together as a group, making them into a family that will withstand the test of time.