Wartburg Choir to perform at White House - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Wartburg Choir to perform at White House


The Wartburg Choir got an early Christmas present, an unsolicited invitation to perform at the White House and entertain guests at the presidential residence and executive office building.

Choir director, Dr. Lee Nelson, said he got a voicemail message from the White House.  The visitors center was looking for groups to perform November 30 through December 23.

"The invitation was surreal. It came out of the blue," Dr. Nelson said in a written statement.  "Someone in the White House called to say they had heard the ‘Flood My Soul with Spirit and Life' album on iTunes," he added. "They talked about the message behind the tour, listened to the music, liked what they had heard, and then apparently went on our website to find out more about us."

Even after hearing the message, Dr. Nelson says he wasn't quite sure it was actually from the White House.

"I just wanted to see who would really pick up when I called back, and it was the Visitors Center at the White House. Then I learned the initial call was ‘an invitation to be considered."

Once he figured out it was for real, Dr. Nelson told them that because of finals and the upcoming "Christmas with Wartburg" shows December 2 through 4, December 17 was the only day they could perform.  He was told that was the most requested day.

So, because of that and the fact the room can only hold 30 singers and the Wartburg Choir has 85, Dr. Nelson thought that would be the last he would hear of it.

"There were so many things stacked against us. Most of the students had pretty much given up hope," Dr. Nelson said.

Then, late last week, the call came confirming that the Wartburg Choir will be performing back to back performances on December 17, allowing 60 singers with others considered on a case-by-case basis, hopefully allowing Dr. Nelson to squeeze in a few more.

Nelson thought some members would already have other plans for the holidays, but he says that hasn't been the case.  He may have to chose by seniority.

"The Wartburg Choir typically plans its year of performances far in advance, and this unexpected — though welcome — opportunity has created a new challenge for our members," Nelson said.

"The choir is very excited," he added. "We feel so blessed."

The choir plans to perform some "Christmas with Wartburg" selections as well as holiday carols.

Members will have to pay their own way, and Nelson expects that cost to be about $500 per person.  The Wartburg Development Office will be accepting gifts designated for the Wartburg Choir, which can be made online as well at https://wc-dev.informz.net/WC-DEV/donate.asp?did=23.  

They plan to fly out Friday, sing Saturday and return home Sunday.  Nelson is hoping to arrange home stays with Washington-area churches to cut costs.

Because the "Flood My Soul" performances helped spawn this trip, Nelson reminded the choir of the debt it owes its predecessors for the invitation.

"You need to be thankful for this," he told them, "because it was gifted to you by choirs that came before you. Our thanks needs to be given, in particular, to the choir of 2009-10 and its ‘Flood My Soul' performances. We're grateful and humbled."


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