Every group has a different answer to the question “Why do you want to tour?” As any tour manager will tell you, there’s no one correct answer. Some want to perform in the great, resume-building venues of Europe and Asia. Some tour to promote their own mission abroad, while others want to strengthen their group’s morale. For Shallaway, a youth chorus based in St. John’s, Newfoundland, the impetus behind touring is multifold and complex. The group tours each year, alternating between March and July. The July tours are mostly festival-based, with the goal being to increase the group’s profile and provide a competitive aspect for the singers to invest in. In March, the group tours to destinations relevant to Newfoundland’s history and cultural connections in the world.
Literally a giant rock in the sea off the far east coast of North America, Newfoundland is a place unlike any other. Geographically, it is completely isolated, and certainly in the wintertime there is a feeling of solitude that over the years has led to a certain solidarity and pride in heritage. Many locals speak with a Celtic lilt that makes you feel as if you’ve landed on old Éire herself, but the province is very proudly Canadian at the same time. Newfoundlanders possess an identity of their own, and elders of the island go to great lengths to preserve and promote cultural longevity among their youth. One aspect of Newfoundland life that most certainly does not go unnoticed, by locals or visitors alike, is the region’s strong ties to the shipping and fishing industry. This history is one that has shaped the community, and one that Shallaway wanted to explore as the theme for its most recent tour.
“St. John’s has had a long historical and cultural connection to Portugal for well over a hundred years. This is mostly attributed to the fertile fishing grounds like the Grand Banks. Historically, fleets of fishing vessels from Portugal would call Newfoundland thier second home. Kellie [Walsh, Artistic Director] remembers her father telling tales of watching Portuguese sailors playing soccer in bare feet with fishermen, and I have a very fond memory of being taken to the local dry goods store and being asked to pick out all the toys I liked for a sailor who wanted to buy gifts for his children back home. To this day, I have the doll that he gave me in thanks. The choristers, prior to leaving, held workshops with historians, and learned how the two nations bonded over ‘the cod’.”
On tour, the group visited its sister city of Porto, as well as Lisbon and Coimbra. Shallaway’s final concert was a joint performance with the CoroInfantilUniversidade de Lisboa, an overwhelmingly successful venture, and a true fulfillment of exactly what the group wanted to accomplish on this tour.
To learn more about Portugal as a possible concert tour destination for your ensemble, please visit our Spain and Portugal destination page, or contact us.