Chamber Choir Tour Students 2023

Hear from the students

Adam Mauch ’24 (Philadelphia, PA)
Majors: Computer Science, Psychology

Harrison Abromavage ‘25

New York City, NY
Major: Chemistry; Minor: Economics

“I really value the diversity of friendships that choir has brought into my Wake Forest experience. I started in Concert Choir, and saw the elevated difficulty and complexity of Chamber Choir and decided I wanted to take on that challenge – I could also tell that the chamber choir had a really special bond, and I thought that would be special to be part of.

Choir provides a powerful and important outlet for mental wellness and it also provides a way to work creatively, emotively, and collaboratively – all such important counterbalances to traditional classroom learning. Choir also builds confidence in taking on a challenge – on your own volition – and achieving something that is creatively and intellectually difficult.

Choir demonstrates the power of the liberal arts – developing well rounded, open and passionate humans with a drive to elevate humanity. It constantly teaches us history, numeric values, rhythm, work ethic, accountability. If that isn’t engaged liberal arts, I don’t know what is.”

Nathaniel Avery ‘24

Groton, CT
Major: Theatre

“COVID really messed up my freshman year.Thankfully, it felt natural to join the Choir. I needed and wanted to be with people who wanted to sing, not because they had to or because it was an easy academic requirement. Two years later, I’m so thankful I get to be with people who are like-minded about music and love to sing and perform, and who put their hearts into it. This tour has given me the opportunity to travel throughout the southeast and now to travel to Europe experiences I never would have been able to do otherwise at this time in my life. It’s the first time I’ve traveled like this and been allowed the opportunity to experience different cultures and people and to do it with people I love and enjoy. It’s an incredible gift and I’m ready for all that my senior year with Choir will bring to life.”

Joe Bruno ’26

Queens, NY
Major: Philosophy

“I joined choir because I wanted to be involved in the arts community at Wake that I heard so much about during my college search. Practicing together four days a week, we get to know each other really well in choir — it surprised me. And the tour brought us even closer. The tour gave me the opportunity to travel outside the U.S. for the first time and to have exposure to people and cultures I wouldn’t have otherwise and to develop such close friendships with people who I’ll grow with for the rest of my time at Wake. It was an incredibly fulfilling experience and I am really grateful to have had it.”

Isabel Cali ’26

Dallas, TX
Major: Engineering

“I am grateful to choir for bringing me into relationships with people I never would have known otherwise — it has totally opened my Wake Forest experience and enriched it in such important ways. Music unites us, and builds confidence, commitment and consistency — strengths that will never leave me.  And finally, I think we benefit the entire community. Students and other Wake campus members tell us how much they love and appreciate what we do — it matters and makes our campus more beautiful.”

Tori Cascone ‘25

Berlin, CT
Major: Health & Exercise Science

“I have always been invested in STEM—I love the sciences and am pursuing a degree in Health and Exercise Science. But music has always been a source of joy and bonding with others for me. I am so glad I had the opportunity to attend Wake (thanks to a Leadership & Character scholarship) and to immerse myself in the arts. Last year, I had the opportunity with Chamber Choir to sing Haydn’s Creation with the Winston-Salem Symphony orchestra. It’s an amazing piece of music. Then, this past year, I studied in Vienna and got to see the original piece of music in his home and then saw where it was first performed! It was an incredible connective experience.

Choir is a place at Wake where I really feel seen. And I love the learning that we lean into outside of the classroom—that is not a requirement, but a personal commitment. Choir teaches you that being a leader is often about being a listener. You don’t join choir to be a soloist – you join choir for the community and for the collective creation—it’s powerful. I don’t do it for my resume, I do it for my well being. But I also know it will differentiate me and will grow me in a very unique way.”

Ksogi Hughes ‘23

Gaborone, Botswana
Major: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

“There was no better way to conclude my college journey then with the way I started freshman year—choir rehearsal for my first class. I was so grateful for the opportunity to tour with the choir prior to graduation to Spain and Portugal, making beautiful music and enjoying these last moments with friends. If there was any activity that was sustaining throughout my Wake Forest career, it was the chamber choir. From leading the music of Love Feast to singing at Dr. Wente’s inauguration, it was powerful to represent Wake Forest in these historic moments. This past year was about relishing the program that I had witnessed being built since my freshman year and reflecting on the ways it has grown, both musically and in human connections.

This choral program is so important for the identity of Wake Forest and its ability to develop young and passionate individuals who study in majors across the university.”

Sophie Keeley ‘25

Fairfield, CT
Major: Psychology

“I always knew choir would be central to my Wake Forest experience—I even wrote one of my admissions essays about my life through a song. I have loved developing relationships through this shared passion, and Dr. Gilliam leads our culture with so much great energy, warmth and welcome. After a day of classes and the rigor of our work, choir is such a wonderful place away where it feels so good to connect through singing and making beautiful music. This tour has elevated all of that even more … it has bonded us deeply and the experiences of the performances have been heart-filling.”

Chris Keiser ‘23

Avondale, PA
Major: English, Minor: Education

“My choir experience has allowed me to become a much fuller person and it has made me want be a great teacher – to help young people get to the same place of purpose and fulfillment.”

Maddie Koontz ‘23

Greenville, SC
Major: Classical Studies, Business and Enterprise Management

“Choir got me through Covid and affirmed my decision to be dedicated to choir through my Wake Forest experience—7 semesters in all, and I missed it so much when I was abroad. This group became a family to me—nothing less.”

Elise Lipezker ‘25

Highland Park, IL
Majors: Spanish, Biology

“I spent my first year in Copenhagen, and when I returned to campus for my sophomore year, it was hard to find my people. Choir was the first place I felt a sense of belonging and connection. It provides such an important break for me, and I feel so supported and bonded with this group. We are a melting pot of faces, experiences and backgrounds, but we share something that overshadows our differences. When my friends outside of choir come to a performance, they start to ‘get it.’

The bottom line: it is a beautiful thing to work hard together, to support one another, to make something beautiful together.”

Harriet Middleton ‘25

Atlanta, GA
Majors: Communications, Sociology

“Music, to me, is therapeutic—it allows you to let out frustration and stress and gives you a sense of being carefree, which is so important with all the pressures that surround us. The Tour was amazing – we visited beautiful places and made gorgeous music together with so much positivity. This was my first time in Europe and I got to experience it with people I love. To me, the choral experience is a perfect example of the power of the liberal arts—a focus on the whole person and experiential learning.”

Conner Milstead ’25

Linwood, NC
Major: Computer Science; Minor: Mathematics

“I remember getting this feeling while we were all singing, it was like a sense of togetherness and unity, and I was almost overwhelmed with the beauty that we were able to create. I really think we were able to put aside individual voices for the betterment of the group. There was something about that last concert that has stuck with me and moved me in a way that I haven’t felt before. It showed me why I love to sing and be a part of a choir, for moments like that.”

Colby Mitchell ’26

Dobson, NC 
Majors: Politics & International Affairs, Philosophy

“I’ve always been involved with choir and thought it would be a great way for me to get involved at Wake and to meet people. Through the tour experience, I felt friendships become so close and it has ended my year in such an awesome way. I feel really lucky to have had the chance to sing in such amazing places with talented people who are now very special friends to me.”

Hannah Murrow ’24

Dallas, NC
Major: Spanish

“Wake Choirs was one of the reasons I decided to attend Wake Forest. I was heavily involved in choir in high school and Dr. Gilliam, who was then the new director, seemed like he was going to do great things with the program. While it was a rough start due to the pandemic, Dr G. persisted and worked to keep our music-making alive and vibrant even in those dark times.

I think the most important moments in this tour were when we began realizing what we were capable of and putting in the work to make absolutely beautiful music. The mentality shifted from an individualistic one to one of a team. We sang with our whole hearts, and created moments that could only be described as magical.”

Sonali Peiris ’25

Lexington, MA
Majors: Politics & International Affairs, Spanish

“I wasn’t planning on doing choir at Wake—but a dear friend inspired me to join. It has reminded me how much I love music and how moving making music with others is. Dr. Gilliam inspires us so powerfully—the dedication and love he puts into us and into this work leading us is nothing short of amazing. I was so proud of how much we grew over this wonderful tour experience—how much we care about this work and each other translated into really stunning performances.”

Liz Pezeu ’25

New York City, NY
Majors: Communication, Philosophy

“I think that choir really requires that you value creation over consumption. Working together to make beautiful music is such a valiant goal that unites us. You have to have a strong heart to do that  … to want to connect with each other in that way. No matter how different we all are, no matter the difference in our backgrounds or what we study or our other values, we all share a desire to create beauty in music together, and I am so thankful for that. We appreciate Dr. Gilliam, who believes in us and pushes us to new levels of greatness.”

Sky Shi ‘24

Shenzhen, China
Major: Psychology

“The tour elevated my choral experience so remarkably. We grew and became so united over every day and every performance. As we became more connected, our music became more beautiful and more powerful—such a lesson that as you grow in understanding and caring about people, you can create amazing things together.”

Alydia Warden ‘26

Elkview, WV
Majors: Psychology, Music

“When I walk into Choir, I leave everything at the door. It’s a wonderful way to build a community; I feel my confidence growing as I get to share my passion with all these friends. It’s important to mention the value of the preparation, the discipline and the care of our bodies and our health that choir participation requires—along with understanding what it is to be accountable to others. These are habits that will stay with me and make me better for the rest of my life.”

Wake Forest University Choir tour