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Sights and Sound

ONU’s University Singers embark on a whirlwind 38-day national summer choir tour.

For many Ohio Northern University students, summer is a time of rest and relaxation. For others, it’s the time to gain real-world experience in their fields through rewarding internship opportunities. Some even choose to forego any notion of downtime by enrolling in summer classes or studying abroad.

Photo Gallery (Scroll for more photos)

First stop: Cincinnati, Ohio

Meridian, Miss.

New Orleans!!!

The city from aboard a riverboat on the mighty Mississippi.

A real, honest-to-goodness chuck wagon breakfast.

Ozona, Texas is Ada's sister city.

Remember the Alamo-n-u!.

The Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas.

The Grand Canyon!

Yes, a KISS museum actually exists.

Las Vegas!!!!

THE Magic Kingdom!

Making new friends

A special visit from ONU president Dan DiBiasio and First Lady Chris Burns-DiBiasio in Los Angeles.

There is more than just good coffee in Seattle!

A special visit from former ONU president Ken Baker and First Lady Toby Baker in Colorado.

But rarely do students have the summer experience awaiting the members the University Singers on the ONU National Choir Tour 2013.

The numbers alone are staggering: Almost 8,000 miles. 38 students. 38 days. 31 performances. 26 states. For five weeks, a collection of ONU’s most talented students is traveling the highways and byways of America, performing choral concerts at churches and schools and introducing people along the way to Ohio Northern University.

“Wherever we go, people are going to hear fabulous music by some really special students who are going to represent our University in a wonderful way,” says Dr. Ben Ayling, choral director and assistant professor of music.

Touring in itself is nothing new for the University Singers. Last March, they toured New Zealand, and they have performed overseas a combined 11 times. However, those tours were seven- to 10-day tours, not 38. This tour is, by far, the most ambitious to date for Ohio Northern.

It’s also a bit of a passion project for Ayling, who went on a national summer tour in 1977 as a college sophomore and, to this day, considers it one the highlights of his life.

“For me, it just gave me a wanderlust for traveling both internationally and here in the United States. Over these five weeks, these students will see more of our country than they will likely see over the rest of their lives. It’s truly a life-changing experience, and I’m thrilled to get to share it with my students,” he says.

Follow the tour on Twitter! #onuchoirtour

Chris and I were delighted to hear the University Singers perform last night in LA as part of their National Tour; they were fantastic!!!

— Dan DiBiasio (@DanDiBiasio) May 27, 2013

And we're off! #ONUchoirtour! #with40ofmyclosestfriends

— Libby Druesedow (@LDruesedow) May 13, 2013

Singing Ave Maria in Mammoth Cave. #wordscannotdescribe#ONUChoirTour

— C.J. Brincefield(@CJBrincefield) May 14, 2013

Well, I don't know how we all fit in this restaurant, but lunch was a success! #onuchoirtour…

— Alexa Lammers (@ACLBellatrix) May 16, 2013

Crossing the mighty Mississippi! #onuchoirtour

— Rebecca Wilden (@RebeccaWilden) May 18, 2013

Remember The Alamo! Driving into San Antonio now! #onuchoirtour

— Rebecca Wilden (@RebeccaWilden) May 19, 2013

@rebeccawilden just admitted that she said goodbye to a pillow from last night #onuchoirtour

— Alexa Lammers (@ACLBellatrix) May 20, 2013

Ozona, Texas is the sister city of Ada, Ohio. It's small, they have nothing to do, and there is nothing else around it! #ONUChoirTour

— C.J. Brincefield(@CJBrincefield) May 20, 2013

Enjoyed an authentic Texas chuckwagon breakfast! #yummy #onuchoirtour

— Rebecca Wilden (@RebeccaWilden) May 21, 2013

There was a Wapakoneta uhaul in New Mexico #ohiopride #onuchoirtour

— Alexa Lammers (@ACLBellatrix) May 22, 2013

Just passed into Arizona! #ONUChoirTour

— C.J. Brincefield(@CJBrincefield) May 22, 2013

Made it to Phoenix! At the mall right now and about to go to a pool party soon. #ONUChoirTour

— C.J. Brincefield(@CJBrincefield) May 23, 2013

Shout out to the #onuchoirtour--hope you all are having a great time!It's been fun to watch your progress online! #onureligiouslife

— David MacDonald (@ONUchaplain) May 24, 2013

At the Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas!! #ONUChoirTour…

— C.J. Brincefield(@CJBrincefield) May 25, 2013

Going to see #PennandTeller at #theRio! #vegas #ONUchoirtour

— Libby Druesedow (@LDruesedow) May 25, 2013

Jersey Boys was amazing! Now off to the buffet! #onuchoirtour

— Rebecca Wilden (@RebeccaWilden) May 26, 2013

I love Vegas and the wonderful people I got to experience it with. #sincity #onuchoirtour

— Taylor Miller (@TaylorM3358) May 26, 2013

Just saw the World's Largest Thermometer! #weird #deathvalley #california #onuchoirtour

— Rebecca Wilden (@RebeccaWilden) May 26, 2013

1st Methodist potluck I've ever been to that has sushi! #onuchoirtour #california #littletokyo

— Rebecca Wilden (@RebeccaWilden) May 27, 2013

A little boy just asked for autographs from all of us after our concert #dying #cutiepatootie #onuchoirtour

— Alexa Lammers (@ACLBellatrix) May 27, 2013

It's way easier to wake up for Disneyland than for an 8 am class! #onuchoirtour

— Rebecca Wilden (@RebeccaWilden) May 27, 2013

Disneyland honorary citizen!!!! #onuchoirtour…

— Alexa Lammers (@ACLBellatrix) May 27, 2013

Venice Beach here i come! #ONUchoirtour

— Libby Druesedow (@LDruesedow) May 27, 2013

Finishing up my magical day at Disneyland with @missalyssa93 by riding Space Mountain! #onuchoirtour

— Rebecca Wilden (@RebeccaWilden) May 28, 2013

Singing "This Land is Your Land" with 22 people inside a giant redwood tree #nobigdeal #onuchoirtour #awesome

— Rebecca Wilden (@RebeccaWilden) May 29, 2013

Halfway through the trip! #wheredidthetimego #ONUchoirtour

— Libby Druesedow (@LDruesedow) May 30, 2013

Our host mom is THE BOMB! She is so HILARIOUS and gave us new toothbrushes! #onuchoirtour

— Rebecca Wilden (@RebeccaWilden) May 30, 2013

I'm on the Golden Gate Bridge!!!! #onuchoirtour

— Alexa Lammers (@ACLBellatrix) May 30, 2013

Dr. A just announced we passed our 5,000 mile mark #onuchoirtour

— Alexa Lammers (@ACLBellatrix) May 30, 2013

Off to Oregon this morning!! #ONUChoirTour

— C.J. Brincefield(@CJBrincefield) May 31, 2013

No big deal just saw a huge waterfall and a huge snow-covered mountain within a half hour #onuchoirtour

— Rebecca Wilden (@RebeccaWilden) May 31, 2013

Heading to Bend, Oregon today! We get to see crater lake as well! #onuchoirtour #gonnabebeautiful

— Taylor Miller (@TaylorM3358) June 1, 2013

Just had a snowball fight in June #craterlake #onuchoirtour

— Alexa Lammers (@ACLBellatrix) June 1, 2013

Welcome to Seattle! #onuchoirtour

— Rebecca Wilden (@RebeccaWilden) June 4, 2013

The 5:45 call will be worth it when we get to see Yellowstone National Park tomorrow! #onuchoirtour

— Alexa Lammers (@ACLBellatrix) June 8, 2013

Welcome to colorful Colorado! #onuchoirtour

— Rebecca Wilden (@RebeccaWilden) June 12, 2013

Singing at 10,000 feet elevation in Leadville CO. Our former president was there too! #Baker #ONUchoirtour

— Libby Druesedow (@LDruesedow) June 13, 2013

So blessed to go to a school that's supportive. It was so incredible to see Dr. Baker and his wife tonight! #onuchoirtour #polarbearpride

— Alexa Lammers (@ACLBellatrix) June 13, 2013

Red Rocks National Park! #onuchoirtour

— Rebecca Wilden (@RebeccaWilden) June 13, 2013

Free day in Iowa today! Bowling and talent show tonight :) #onuchoirtour

— Taylor Miller (@TaylorM3358) June 15, 2013

Just crossed the Mississippi River for the second time! #onuchoirtour

— C.J. Brincefield (@CJBrincefield) June 16, 2013

Aaaaannnndddd I'm officially caught up on my blog #finally #onuchoirtour #nowifiproblems

— Alexa Lammers (@ACLBellatrix) June 16, 2013

I LOVE CHICAGO! #favoritecity #soexcited #onuchoirtour

— Rebecca Wilden (@RebeccaWilden) June 17, 2013

Watching Ferris Bueller's Day Off is a must when driving through Chicago #onuchoirtour

— Alexa Lammers (@ACLBellatrix) June 17, 2013

Back in Ohio! #onuchoirtour

— Rebecca Wilden (@RebeccaWilden) June 18, 2013

The ONU National Tour Choir at #2013OCDA #onuchoirtour

— OCDA (@OhioCDA) June 18, 2013

Day 38 is here...Wow! #onuchoirtour #summerofmemories

— Rebecca Wilden (@RebeccaWilden) June 19, 2013

Leaving #2013OCDA and Dr. A says, "Let's go home" :) #besttourever #onuchoirtour #allthememories

— Rebecca Wilden (@RebeccaWilden) June 19, 2013

So happy. I love Ada so much! #onuchoirtour

— Rebecca Wilden (@RebeccaWilden) June 19, 2013

Our last hurrah tonight at 8 #ONUchoirtour #Freedcenter #Godbewithyou #tilwemeetagain

— Libby Druesedow (@LDruesedow) June 19, 2013

Check back for more updates

The tour itinerary looks more like a AAA TripTik than a concert schedule, with stops at Mammoth Cave National Park; Nashville, Tenn.; New Orleans, La.; Roswell, N.M.; Carlsbad Cavern; The Grand Canyon, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park; Puget Sound; Yellowstone National Park; Mt. Rushmore; to name but a few. The tour will also have free days in Los Angeles and Las Vegas for students to take in the sights.

“It sounds kind of corny, but I am really looking forward to going to Disneyland,” says Alexa Lammers, a freshman public relations and musical theatre major from Tipp City, Ohio. “I asked for a ticket for my birthday this year, so I’m going on our day off with a few friends.”

Lammers is also looking forward to the trip itself, even if it does mean 38 days on a bus with 40 other people.

“You know those road trips you took as a kid, and how you and your friends all sat in the back seat, and you just have these great inside jokes from being on the road?” she says. “Well, we get to do that for 38 days, so just imagine all the memories we are going to make.”

Ohio Northern University prides itself on many things, but two of the most important are its passion for providing students with opportunities for experiential learning and its reputation for producing well-rounded students. The choir tour is a good example of those two pieces in perfect harmony.

The University Singers aren’t just music majors. There are majors from all four of ONU’s undergraduate colleges on this tour. At Northern, students can major in a challenging academic field and still pursue their passions. They can even spend five weeks in the summer pursuing them all across the country.

The tour will be a learning experience as well. Apart from all they will learn about America, the tour will also turn them into better singers. They will be singing six days a week, including performances and rehearsals, a heavy workload for any choir. According to Ayling, it will drastically change the way his students sing.

“It’s going to raise the bar,” he says. “By the time we get even one third of the way through this trip, they are going to be a better singing choir than probably any choir they’ve ever been in. And by the time we are finished, they will have transcended most choirs anywhere, period.”

As a pure exercise in singing, Ayling says there is no way to replicate what this tour will do for the University Singers, and he is already excited for the fall when the students return after having this experience.

“Every one of them will want to have that same performance level, and they’ll work hard for it,” he says. “They’ll push themselves. They’ll push each other to get back there.”

But first things first. There are still a few dozen states to go.

In addition to Twitter, follow the choir tour on Tumblr at for daily updates.