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Cappella Nova Egypt Tour

May 2013

Blog Post #1: Tuesday, May 20th

We are in Cairo!! The flights yesterday went smoothly and we arrived safe and sound in Cairo about 4:00pm (local time, which is nine hours ahead). We spent the evening getting to know our lovely host families from the Cairo American College, which is in the neighborhood of Maadi. We’ve had the opportunity to sample some local cuisines, we got free ice cream (so refreshing!), and everything has been delish. The city keeps losing power, so we are seeking shade whenever possible. It only got up to 95, so we’re lucky ;)

Today we have been attending choir classes at the CAC with their Concert Choir and will shortly be participating in a master class with Dr. Abdulwahab, who is the composer of one of our tour pieces, “Ai’yu”. Tonight we will be sailing down the Nile on traditional felucca boats and enjoying a meal together! It should be a great opportunity to snap some beautiful pictures and see more of the city.

Tomorrow we’ll be checking out the Egyptian Museum, rehearsing some more, and performing our first concert. We are having an amazing time and are feeling so excited and lucky to be here. Love to all our family and friends back home!

P.S. We’ll post updates of our adventures as often as we can, so check back!


Blog Post #2: Thursday, May 22nd

Down time with internet access has been hard to come by, so we have lots to tell in this blog post! To catch you up… yesterday we met early in the morning and took a bus downtown to visit the Egyptian Museum. Guided by an expert (and hilarious) Egyptologist, we saw many fascinating artifacts from Ancient Egypt - including those from King Tut’s tomb and the mummified remains of Ramses II, Hatshepsut, and many others. There was so much to see, and we were captivated all morning. 

Back on the bus, our Egyptologist guide took us on a bus tour through several parts of the city. Downtown, we were all very interested to see Tahrir Square with the bustle of people and the graffiti covering the walls of the university there. In Islamic Cairo, a.k.a. Old Cairo, we saw many beautiful mosques, the largest cemetery in the world, and the limestone hills where Ancient Egyptians carved out the shiny casings of the pyramids.

That night we performed our first concert of the tour, at St. John’s Church in Maadi. It was a gorgeous hall with wonderful acoustics, and we had a full audience. The power went out before the concert started, so we sang the first song by candlelight before the lights came back on. It was an enchanting and special (and resourceful!) way to begin a concert. 

Today we spent most of the day rehearsing at the CAC, and had several hours of free time in the afternoon. Some of us shopped, some of us napped, and ALL of us drank lots of water and reapplied our sunscreen ;) Then we gathered back at the school and performed our second concert of the tour - a combined performance with the CAC choir. It was an amazing experience to perform with these talented high school singers, with many of their families in the audience, and it made it such a special night. 

Tomorrow we will bid a fond farewell to our wonderful host families and set out on a day trip to see the pyramids. Yay!! In the evening we’ll be heading to the Cairo neighborhood of Zamalek to sing a concert as part of the El Sawy Culturewheel, and we’ll stay in a hotel nearby for the night. 

We’re headed to bed now, to get some rest before our adventure to the pyramids. All are happy, healthy, and having a great time. Love, Cappella Nova







Cappella Nova will be traveling to Egypt this May for a concert tour of the Cairo and Luxor areas. Use this page to…

       follow updates on our tour preparations!

                  read about our exciting travel plans!

                        support students by giving to the scholarship fund!


Tour Overview:

On May 19th the Cappella Nova Choir will fly to Cairo to begin our first international tour in over 30 years. We will spend ten days in the Cairo and Luxor areas, performing in a number of venues - from El Sawy to the plaza in front of the Temple of Luxor. While in Egypt, we will be learning from master teachers in North African musical traditions, collaborating with Egyptian choirs, and learning about the richness of Egyptian history through sightseeing with an Egyptologist guide. This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

April Press Release:


Portland, Oregon, United States — Lewis & Clark College is pleased to announce that its premier chamber choir Cappella Nova will tour Egypt in May 2013.  Under the direction of Dr. Katherine FitzGibbon, the Cappella Nova choir will present an excitingly varied program, “Dance Rhythms.” This program will consist of North African sacred and secular music, including from the ecstatic Sufi music and dance tradition; American Shaker songs, with their own ecstatic dance tradition; 20th-century American choral music by Barber, Copland, and Ives; new music for choir by American composers Whitacre, Carey, and Lauridsen; Renaissance music based on dance melodies; and African-American spirituals and gospel music. 

While in Egypt, the choir will have a residency at Cairo American College, hosted by families of the students at the school. They will perform at St. John’s Church in Maadi on Wednesday, May 22, at 7:30 p.m.; at the Cairo American College Theater on Thursday, May 23, at 7:00 p.m.; at El Sawy Culturewheel  in Zamalek on Friday, May 24, at 7:00 p.m.; and in Luxor at the Conference Center on Monday, May 27 at 7:30 p.m.. The choir will also have the opportunity to work with master teachers Dr. Abdelwahab Abdelfattah and Dr. John Baboukis, work with the non-profit community-based organization The Choir Project, as well as to visit historical sites guided by an Egyptologist. 

The music department at Lewis & Clark College, an excellent small private liberal arts college in Portland, Oregon, with 1900 undergraduate students, provides an exceptional program with a wealth of opportunities for students interested in music. Our faculty of active performers, composers, and musicologists offer their expertise to prepare students for lives in music and for a lifelong appreciation of music as an integral and enriching element in the lives of their students. 

Cappella Nova consists of 31 undergraduate students representing Lewis & Clark College’s finest singers. These students, ranging from freshmen to seniors in college, participate actively in musical activity at Lewis & Clark while studying a wide variety of majors. The choral music program seeks to provide students with high-level choral singing experiences that enhance their understanding of vocal technique, choral methods, and music history through performing literature from many stylistic periods and countries. 

Cappella Nova is known for its ability to perform in multiple musical styles and traditions. In recent years, the choir has performed major Western repertoire such as Bach’s Magnificat, world music including a Latin American choral music festival with guest conductor Maria Guinand, a concert of spirituals with guest performer Carmund White, and new music for choir by living composers, including this spring’s West coast premiere of Paul Carey’s “Dirge for Love,” which they will perform on tour in Egypt. Recent tours have taken the choir to California, Washington, and British Columbia. This will be Cappella Nova’s first overseas tour in decades. 

The choir is directed by Lewis & Clark music professor Katherine FitzGibbon, who is also Artistic Director of Resonance Ensemble and Head of Faculty at the Berkshire Choral Festival, and accompanied by staff pianist Stephanie Thompson. Assistant conductor Charlie Ahlquist, voice instructor Susan McBerry, and McBerry’s husband Albert Alter will also serve as leaders on the tour. 

Lewis & Clark’s Cappella Nova choir participates in this tour with generous sponsorship from the Lewis & Clark Office of the President, EgyptAir, the Governor of Luxor, Sofitel, and the American Research Center in Egypt.  


Support students by giving to the Scholarship Fund! Click on the link below.
Contribute to the Scholarship Fund 

100% of your tax-deductible gift to the Egypt Tour Scholarship Fund directly supports students, helping make it possible for our whole choir to participate in the tour. Thank you!

If you prefer, you can mail a check to the following address:

Department of Music, MSC 18
Lewis & Clark College
0615 S.W. Palatine Hill Road
Portland, OR 97219

Purchase a Cappella Nova Choir CD!

Cappella Nova has released our first CD, Cappella Nova Live in Concert! which is available for $15 per CD. Order online from the Bookstore by clicking on the link below. 100% of your purchase goes into the Egypt Tour Scholarship Fund. Enjoy!

Purchase Cappella Nova Live in Concert!


Thank you to our generous sponsors!


Tour Planning Updates

Check back regularly for new announcements!

3/19/13   Pitching in to help arrange the Luxor tour has been Adly
Hassanein (choir member Zein’s dad).  Adly flew to Luxor to meet
personally with Governor Dr. Ezzat Saad, who is delighted to welcome
Capella Nova to Luxor. The governor is working with his public
relations team to prepare the venue for the concert and sponsor the

The concert will be held in the Luxor Conference Center, a venue that
hosts annual international film, dance and music performances. In
addition, the Sofitel Karnak Luxor Resort will sponsor the choir and
welcome their stay at this beautiful resort just outside the city.

When in Luxor, the choir will get a behind the scenes look at the
conservation laboratory and conservation activities at Khonsu Temple
at Karnak as guests of the American Research Center in Egypt.

Lewis & Clark College would also like to thank a very important
Egyptian sponsor, Egyptair, who has generously provided discounted
fares, making the choir’s flight to Luxor a reality.

Although there are still two months before we arrive in Egypt, we can
already feel the legendary warmth and generosity of the Egyptian

1/19/2013: Reminder to tour participants: our first rehearsal of the semester is this coming Wednesday (yay!). Second payments are due this week.

1/18/2013: Thanks to the awesome efforts of Djodi Deutsch (current student Zein’s mom and our local contact in Cairo) and the planning team, our travel itinerary and performance schedule are coming together. It’s going to be a great tour!

12/12/2012: Our flights are booked! It’s official!

11/19/2012: This year’s Cappella Nova Choir t-shirts are in. Available to current choir members - contact Lana Sanford.

10/5/2012: First planning team meeting. 

11/1/2011: The Cappella Nova 2013 Choir Tour to Egypt has become a reality, thanks to a very generous start-up grant from Lewis and Clark’s Presidential Strategic Initiative Fund. Pyramids, Valley of the Kings, here we come!


Tour Itinerary (subject to change)

May 19: Fly to Egypt.

May 20: Arrive in Cairo. Meet home-stay families from the Cairo American College and sightsee in the city.

May 21-24 Sightseeing in Cairo: Visit the Pyramids and the Sphinx, explore Coptic Cairo and Islamic Cairo, take in the panoramic view of the city from the top of Cairo Tower, sample local cuisines, participate in workshops with local experts in North African singing traditions, and take a boat ride along the Nile.

May 22: Evening performance at St. John’s Church.

May 23: Evening performance at Cairo American College.

May 24: Evening performance at El Sawy Culturewheel.

May 25: Fly to Luxor and perform in the plaza outside the Temple of Luxor.

May 26: Sightseeing in Luxor: Discover the Temples of Luxor and Karnak, tour the necropolis of ancient Thebes, and visit the Museum of Mummification.

May 27: Fly back to Cairo and visit the market of Khan el-Khalili.

May 28: Participate in workshops with local choirs.

May 29: Savor the last day in Egypt, revisiting favorite spots. Tentative meeting with representatives from USAID and/or the US Embassy in Cairo. End-of-tour celebration dinner.

May 30: Fly home.


Planning Team Members:

Alex Young, choir president. Lana Sanford, choir vice-president. Zein Hassanein, Eddie Barksdale, Elsa Sweek, Leslie Simmons, Charlie Ahlquist, tour managers.

Katherine FitzGibbon, director.

Special thanks to Djodi Deutsch, Sue McBerry, and the Lewis and Clark Overseas Office.