HBHS Students Perform, Explore Italian Heritage

Har-Ber High School choir students traveled to Italy, creating memories as they performed in historic cultural locations and explored their heritage.

“They knew they were in this country as representatives of Har-Ber High School, members of the town of Springdale and representatives as young Americans, and they did not take their jobs lightly,” said Clint Pianalto, HBHS choral director. “They worked together with their teachers to achieve greatness in action and performance.”

Thirty-seven students from Har-Ber’s Camerata Singers and Bel Canto Choir participated in the trip, he said. Pianalto , Michael Baker Brown, HBHS choral director, and volunteer chaperones also traveled with the 10th- and 11th-graders.

“It was spectacular to sing in places where many famous and historical figures had performed,” said Taylor Tyndall, an 18-year-old Har-Ber senior. “The way the cathedrals made our sound surround the audience was unlike any other place I had ever been.”

The group visited or performed in Venice, Lido de Jesolo, the ancient city of Padua, Verona, Sirmione in the Lake Garda region, Florence, Siena, San Gimignano, Estes, the hilltop village of San Gimignano and Vali del Pasubio, the birthplace of many descendants of Tontitown, Pianalto said.

“I was fortunate enough to have my 18-year-old son, Connor, on this trip and another student by the name of Olivia McAfee, who are both direct descendants of the original settlers of Tontitown,” he said. “We managed to get to sing in the church that our ancestors gathered in in 1895 and then set sail for America.”

A member of the group, Ember Brown, spoke Italian and notified the local government they would be visiting the town, which facilitated having two choirs from the area sing with the Har-Ber students, Pianalto said.

“They shared with us songs of the mountain and some songs with American influences,” he said. “It was by far the largest audience we performed for.”

The choirs also performed a combined song called “In Paradiso,” and the evening was concluded with a reception hosted by the town, Pianalto said.

“The students ate Italian foods and visited with the Italians as best they could. They met on common ground, and all of them sang the ‘Lion Sleeps Tonight’ together,’” he said. “Music was our common language.”

Each venue was uniquely different, but the performance and visit to Valli Del Pasubio was truly special, said chaperone Melissa Tyndall.

“The community really came together to make us feel welcome. We ate some of the best pizza that I have ever had,” she said. “The pride that they took in their community just shined through, and you could tell that they were so happy to host.”

Molly Tyndall, also an 18-year-old Har-Ber senior, said the performance in Vali del Pasubio was her favorite of the trip.

“They were all so excited to joyfully sing together and create new friendships with us,” she said. “It was so moving to be able to communicate so much with one another simply through friendly smiles and singing songs."

Taylor Tyndall agreed with her sister, adding she was surprised just how valued art is Italy.

“Everyone had a high appreciation for music, food and the arts,” Taylor Tyndall said. “Even in the smaller places we performed, we always had a respectful audience excited to hear us sing and people ready to make us feel at home.”

Pianalto said the trip will benefit participating students for years to come.

“Colleges and universities, as well as the workforce, are looking for students that not only take care of their academics, but that they are members of highly functioning and high achieving teams,” he said. “This experience helped shape and form every one of these students for the rest of their lives. It will forever be imprinted on our hearts.”

Molly Tyndall agreed that would be the case.

“The experience was incredible to see how people from such different walks of life can come together through music,” she said. “I personally will never forget this experience, and my perspective on life is forever altered because of it."