Loyola Chorale gets ‘once in a life time’ opportunity to perform with Italian tenor


Courtesy of Ava Lipford

The stage is set for the Loyola Chorale to perform alongside Andrea Bocelli on Feb. 11. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for the choir.

Macie Batson, Editor in Chief

“Nothing could really prepare me for being that close to one of the greatest tenors of all time,” said Loyola senior Ava Lipford. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Lipford, like many others in the Loyola Chorale, performed in a 60-person ensemble alongside famous Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli early last month.

The opportunity resulted from the Director of Choral Activities, and her connection with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. Frazier said that she and her local choir, NOVA Chorale, have been playing with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra for years and that when Bocelli’s management contacted the LPO for recommendations, they suggested her. As the choral contractor, Frazier felt confident about hiring the students as part of the choir.

“I have been so impressed with the professionalism and work ethic of my students,” Frazier said. “I love to hire them for gigs because I can count on them to be prepared and reliable—and it’s so much fun making music together with them.”

It’s always good when students can see the jobs they may be hired to do, Frazier said, from her part as the contractor to the students as the backup choir to the crew and other performers in the show.

Lipford said that, aside from performing, the most memorable part of the process was telling their family about it.

“My grandma and my great aunt both love Bocelli. And so being able to call them and be like, you know, I’m going to be performing in his accompanying choir was very awesome,” they said.

Lipford also said that their mother was able to secure a ticket and fly in at the last minute to see it happen, so having her there was a real treat for them.

Loyola sophomore Taylor Tumulty shared the sentiment with Lipford and said she remembers the moment she found out she was performing over winter break.

“I remember getting the email and telling my parents, and all of us being so excited,” she said. “It was definitely a jump up and down with joy moment.”

Tumulty said that while the music was relatively easy, there were a few sections with fast Italian that proved to be a little tricky. Dr. Frazier arranged a few rehearsals so they could practice together.

Lipford said that the rehearsal before the performance was also really motivating because they got to work with conductors from the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra who had such a keen eye for detail.

“It wasn’t until halfway through the rehearsal before we saw Bocelli,” Lipford said. “Then, when he came on stage, I didn’t fully realize what was happening and didn’t prepare myself for that.”

Lipford said that they had never performed in such a large venue before and that it was crazy enough just to see it empty when they were rehearsing, so seeing all of the people in there at the end of each of Bocelli’s songs when the lights were turned back on was surreal.

“He was just so natural. He’s done this for so long it’s like second nature to him at this point,” Lipford said. “It was very inspiring to see just how comfortable he was.”

Lipford also said it was very inspiring to hear the other singers Bocelli brought on stage with him.

“He brought a soprano on stage, which he called one of the greatest sopranos in the world, and she was just amazing. I mean, just her control, and her tone. She was like a princess,” Lipford said.

The performance proved unforgettable, according to Tumulty, especially since they got to perform four encores with Bocelli.

“The performance was absolutely amazing. I’ll never forget what it felt like to step on a nearly sold-out stage at the Smoothie King Center and hear the audience cheering,” she said. “Just being able to simply share the stage with someone as legendary as Andrea Bocelli was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

The chorale took the stage again Thursday, March 2, as part of the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra’s regular season, performing the choral parts of Haydn’s “Die Jahreszeiten,” or “The Seasons” at the Orpheum Theater.

“This is a work for orchestra, choir, and soloists. We’ve been working on this since we got back from Christmas break,” Frazier said. “It’s a lot more complicated and difficult than our previous engagements.”

Tumulty agreed that it has been difficult because the components are all in German, but she said she is looking forward to the reward.

“We’ve all been working extremely hard on it for the past couple of months. It’s going to be beautiful and I can’t wait for all of the hard work to pay off,” she said.

Alessandra Carvallo contributed to this story.