NSU choir packs bags for international competition in Hungary

NATCHITOCHES, La. (KALB) - From Natchitoches to Budapest; Sunday morning Northwestern State University's Chamber and Lyrica choirs are packing their bags for Hungary!

This is NSU's first time competing in an international choral competition.

"This small choir at Northwestern is going to be able to compete with some of the best out there," said NSU sophomore Morgan McCrory.

It's a dream scenario for Rapides Parish High School alumni Morgan McCrory and Michael Martin.

"Only being 20 years old and going to compete in an international competition, it blows me away," said NSU Sophomore Michael Martin.

But, it was the demons audition tapes that blew competition organizers away, allowing them to bypass the first rounds for choral competitions in Budapest, Hungary.

"We are now in the finals with at least 20 other choirs," said NSU Director of Choral Activities Nicholaus Cummins. "I've seen the list they come from everywhere from China to the U.S., so there are choirs from all around the world competing with us."

Cummins said it's a fierce competition.

"You have seven judges that are literally fine combing every little detail that you do in your music and you are being rated by that," Cummins said.

But, the students feel their teacher has prepared them.

"Our program is completely memorized and he pushes us hard every single time to get it memorized faster and faster," Martin said. "So, that way it is completely polished."

Still, the road to Hungary hasn't been easy.

"We had a member of our choir pass away," McCrory said.

In January exchange student Orlando Gonzalez was diagnosed with stomach cancer and was gone by April.

"He was 33 and he had already gotten a degree in Colombia in business but his passion was music," Cummins said.

Which he brought to the class.

"He instilled a passion in all of these students about music," Cummins said. "He loved every kind of music, regardless of what it was."

It's a love Cummins wants them to carry on.

"Something I am going to say to them before they go out on stage is remember Orlando is supposed to be with us and he is with us," Cummins said. "Maybe not in body, but in spirit."

And McCrory hopes to make Orlando proud in Budapest.

"When we sing our pieces we keep him in our heart and we think of him, and we think of his struggle," McCrory said. "We have this piece called 'Gather at the River' and it is just very touching and very emotional and I think that will translate into the music."

The group's trip will last 12 days. While overseas they will also stop by Krakow, Poland. If they win first place at the competition there is a cash prize up for grabs. They could also be invited back next year, all expenses paid.

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