After touring two countries, giving six performances, taking seven plane flights, and losing 24 pieces of luggage, Corban’s chamber choir is glad to be back in Salem.
From Dec. 29 to Jan. 13, the choir, led by Matthew Strauser, and his wife, Naomi, traveled through the Czech Republic and Bulgaria to perform at various venues. They also shared the gospel through singing and building relationships.
The last eight days of the trip were devoted to rehearsing for the Varna International Conductors’ Workshop, but the choir also performed at three local evangelical churches. When they weren’t singing Bulgarian folk songs or sacred American pieces, they concentrated on living out the message of their music in their interaction with other choirs, conductors, and anyone else they met.
Their efforts did not go unrewarded. More than one conductor commented on the brightness of spirit among the Corban students.
“I was immensely blessed by this trip,” says senior Jared Hernandez. “As those we touched shared with us how impressed they were with our music and our hearts and passion, I realized that we truly did make a difference and that God was greatly using us in many ways.”
At eastern European churches, the Bulgarians, who spoke only a little English, greeted the Corban students with “Slava na Boga” – “Praise the Lord.” The choir members met fellow Christians who were excited not only to hear their music but also to worship with them. At one church, the choir recognized “Draw Me Close to You” as one of the worship songs.
“We sang in English, and they sang in Bulgarian,” recalls sophomore Ashley Ballinger. “It was cool how we were worshiping the same God while singing in two different languages at the same time.”
The chamber choir also enjoyed walking around downtown and touring local historical sites, such as the ancient Roman baths of Varna and Křivoklát Castle just outside of Prague.