FAQ about Singapore, Bali, Indonesia, and Traveling in Asia
Who are the DELAWARE CHORAL SCHOLARS? Can anyone audition?
The group is modeled after the choir in residence of the Choral Symposium in France that has run over the past several years. We have found that current students have benefited greatly from the experience and leadership of alumni and other fine choral musicians, many of whom are working as choral directors in schools, churches, and community organizations. At the same time, as this is an ensemble of the highest artistic standards, those who have been out of school for awhile are typically exhilarated to sing in an ensemble of this caliber again.
How do I register, what are the deadlines, and how will I know if I’ve been accepted?
Pre-registration for current members of the UD CHORALE runs from Monday, October 7 to Monday, October 21. Current members can still apply after October 21, but at that point, space is not guaranteed and they are in competition will all other applicants.
Registration for Alumni and Auditioned Singers opens on Monday, October 21 with a deadline date of Friday, November 15, 2019. The registration is similar to that outlined above, including a completed registration form, the commensurate deposit, and a video-audition. (Read about the Audition Process HERE.) Depending on the balance of the ensemble, applications will remain open until the ensemble is balanced and filled to capacity – no fewer than 32 singers, no more than 48.
Current Chorale members will be notified of acceptance by November 4, 2019. All other participants will be notified of acceptance by December 2, 2019.
ALL DEPOSITS ARE NON-REFUNDABLE, unless you’re not accepted into the project, at which point you’ll be refunded in full.
Why is this project organized around a competition, and not just a typical choir tour format?
The University of Delaware Chorale has a long and successful tradition with participation in competitive events, having won first and second prizes in Estonia, Spain, Hungary, and Germany over the past fifteen years. While embracing the ideal that “making music is not about winning a prize,” other than having made the music itself, there’s no question that participation in an event such as this tends to motivate people to really commit to the collective endeavor with an intensity of musicianship that reflects the commitment of the entire ensemble. Additionally, this project presents a particularly interesting opportunity given the interaction with choirs from all over Asia – a completely different tradition full of color, movement, and drama. We are seeking to create a concentrated, intense musical experience that will create a lifetime of memories, regardless of whether we come home “with a prize.”
What is the repertoire; how much music?
We will compete in two categories: Mixed Choir and Musica Sacra, each of which require five or six pieces provided we make it to the final round for the Grand Prize. We’ll probably add a few spirituals, folk-songs, and perhaps a couple choral standards for the purpose of impromptu concerts along the way. This repertoire will need to be memorized before we depart for our rehearsal week in Singapore.
We intend to have music distributed before winter break (around December 20, 2019) so people have time to learn it before we gather for the first rehearsal in February.
How are audition decisions made?
For current Chorale members, selection will be on the basis of seniority: Grad students/Seniors, Juniors, then Sophomores. All members are eligible subject to balance of the ensemble, provided the registration process has been completed by October 21, 2019.
All other applicants will be asked to submit a video audition uploaded to a private YouTube channel. While preference may be given to alumni or other previous members of the Delaware Choral Scholars, absolute musicianship and the balance of sections within the choir will guide the jury process.
What if I can’t make either or both of the preliminary rehearsals in February and May? Should I even bother to apply?
Clearly, the desirable outcome is to assemble the entire choir for both preliminary rehearsals, and the expectation is that all singers will attend both rehearsal weekends. (February 15-16 and May 2-3, 2020) They are each held on weekends, rehearsing from 12:00 noon to 9:00 pm on Saturday, and 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm on Sunday.
That said, you will have an opportunity to indicate your availability for the rehearsal weekends on the application form. While you will not automatically be excluded due to availability for one or more of those rehearsal blocks, if all other things are considered equal, we will choose the singers with greater availability as that will be a greater asset to the entire group. That also applies to current members of the Chorale, in addition to those who are auditioning in.
We realize some participants may be traveling long distances to participate in these weekends, thereby incurring additional expense. While we are unable to assist with airfare, we will certainly do what we can to help with airport transportation and couch-surfing opportunities as they become available.
What’s included in the cost of the trip, and why is there a Land Only package?
The air-inclusive package consists of round-trip airfare from JFK (New York) to Singapore, ground transportation in Singapore (all public transit when possible) accommodations (two to a room) in 2** or 3*** star hotels. and rehearsal facilities. Food is on your own while we’re in Singapore! Once we arrive in Bali, the festival organizers will provide lodging (two to a room) in a 3*** hotel, all ground transportation, all competitive events, all meals during the festival (if you like what they have to offer), a glorious awards ceremony (!), and a commemorative t-shirt with the group’s name on it. We are also covering round-trip airfare between Singapore and Bali – about 90 minutes each-way.
You can eat very frugally in Singapore, especially if you venture into some of the ethnic neighborhoods with great little eateries, or you could spend a fortune if you wander into the business district with it’s Michelin Star restaurants. But indeed, if you’re on a tight budget, you can make it work comparably to what you would spend for food at home.
Regarding air-fares, we are holding fifty (50) seats on a Singapore Airlines flight out of JFK. Especially if you wish to arrive early or stay longer, you may well find a flight cheaper than what we could book for the group; which once combined with the land cost, may significantly reduce the cost of the trip. If you plan to extend your trip, you can fly just about anywhere in Asia from Singapore in an hour or two – and for CHEAP! Spend some time on Google Flights to check it out.
For those of you with access to frequent-flier miles, you can usually get to and from Asia for 80,000 miles. Additionally, if you’re from the east coast, you’d be smart to route your flight through Los Angeles or San Francisco. (Bizarrely, the flight we have booked goes eastward with a plane change in Frankfurt, then onwards to Singapore. Either way, it’s literally half way around the planet!)
This is a really amazing deal for such a remarkable trip, but what if I need additional financial assistance?
Keep in mind that singers are already receiving scholarship assistance for approximately half of the cost of the project (A bit more for current members, a bit less for external applicants) and we are already in the midst of a campaign to make sure we can back up that commitment. We may be able to identify sponsors for those with extenuating needs, but we won’t be able to guarantee such funding until these sponsors are identified and pledges have been confirmed. Even then, one should not expect to receive funding that would cover more than 75% of the project. (e.g. The minimum cost for a singer with an individual sponsor would not be less than $750 out of pocket.) Your initial deposit counts toward this amount, but will be non-refundable whether we can find you a sponsor or not.
Are there hidden expenses not included in the cost?
As noted above, we will not be providing meals during our stay in Singapore, but you might want to check out these links for cheap eats in Singapore, or about the open air food courts scattered about the city. Great fresh food at fast food prices!
You do not need a special visa to visit Singapore or Bali if you are a US citizen, but you will need a current passport with at least six months beyond the dates of the trip before expiration. New passport application fees are currently running about $110.
The University of Delaware will require you to purchase an insurance policy that provides coverage for urgent medical treatment and emergency evacuation, which is required of anyone traveling on a University sponsored event. These policies typically range from $20-$35. You will be provided with registration information for this coverage once accepted to the program.
If you’re flying with the group, you’ll need to find your own transportation to JFK Airport in New York, regardless of your point of origin. If you’re not traveling with the group (e.g. you booked your own airline ticket) you will need to find your own transportation from the Singapore Airport to our downtown hotel, which is approximately $30 each way if you take the super modern high speed train.
Will we have an opportunity to tour and sightsee in Singapore and Indonesia? What kind of excursions are being offered?
Well no… don’t count on that. As opposed to your typical choir tour where your time is shared between performing and being a tourist, this is essentially a rehearsal and performance endeavor! There will certainly be time in the evenings to explore the Singapore Harbor, and a bit of time to find your way to some of the other main tourist attractions as well, but we will be busy with rehearsal most days until we get to Bali, at which point we’ll be deeply immersed in the competition itself. Does that mean you won’t have time to get to the beach? I’m sure you will, but if you really want to do the tourist thing, you should plan to extend your stay! Similarly, we’ll expect our singers to do all they can to adjust to the time-difference, get plenty of sleep, hydrate, and avoid extensive activities that cause dehydration. In short, you will see Asia from the inside out, not from a tour bus!
I’ve been to Europe, but I’m a little worried about finding my way around in Asia? Should I be? Is it safe?
Asia (at least these parts of Asia!) is remarkably easy to navigate in the English language. All the signage in all the important places is in English, especially at the airport and on public transportation. In fact, the Singapore Changi airport has the reputation of being the most extravagant and user friendly airport in the world.
Law and Order is the rule of the land in Singapore with strict prohibitions about litter (No gum, ever, ANYwhere!) and ruthless penalties for petty crime, and thus, there is essentially none! I will visit the festival site in Bali before we go, but one should rest assured that the festival organizers will be with us from start to finish during our stay there, including guides who are completely fluent in the local language(s). In short, I think most seasoned travelers feel much safer in these parts of Asia than they might in Paris, Rome, or New York City.
A couple people have voiced concerns about discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation. Major travel writers (such as those at Frommer’s and Lonely Planet) recommend that tourists restrain from public display of affection – regardless of sexual orientation – but then go on to provide resources for LGBQT travelers. This itinerary is confined to heavily touristed areas, and tourism is a major commodity. Be thoughtful and you should be OK.