Grass Valley’s Nevada Union choir to visit Baltic States (VIDEO) |

Grass Valley’s Nevada Union choir to visit Baltic States (VIDEO)

Photo for The Union by John Hart
John Hart | The Union

Nevada Union High School choir students are taking their voices overseas to the Baltic States March 22 to April 1 to perform abroad with other international choir groups.

The trip is part of a tradition that has students travel to Europe every two years; this is the first year the group will visit Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

“We’ve never done this area and it has a really, really strong tradition of folk singing and choir,” said Rod Baggett, Nevada Union choir director.

Several students had to fundraise to make the $3,600 trip, which 39 students and 14 parents will take part in, and the school offered an account for freshman to begin fundraising at the start of high school, Baggett said.

“It really opens up the reality that the world is available.”

— Rod Baggett,
Nevada Union’s choir director

“It’s always challenging,” Baggett said. “Some kids have it easier than others, but I have some kids that are still really struggling and we’d love to accept any donations. We’re trying to even work out a couple payment plans.”

Laura Dennis, a senior, said she would not have been able to fund the trip without the help of donors and bake sales.

“This is my first year ever going anywhere out of the country, so I’m super excited about it,” Dennis said. “I wrote up a letter and sent it out to 60 different people and have been getting donations from family and friends and just to be able to experience different cultures and try new things is what I’m really excited about.”

The trips began in the 1980s with Baggett’s father, Don, who took the students to Russia during the Cold War era to experience how music can be used to express political stances.

The trip aligns with the class curriculum, Baggett said, The class watched a movie titled “The Singing Revolution” about the Baltic State’s resistance to the control of the Soviet Union, where a revolution was led through rebellious singing.

Part of the enrichment of the visit is that students will be immersed in another culture through tours of every country, Baggett said.

“It really opens up the reality that the world is available,” Baggett said. “I think for a lot of kids it’s scary, then they get out and experience a different language and culture and money and customs and it’s really an eye-opening experience.”

Several students visited Greece two years ago and said the experience was a positive contribution to their learning.

“It was so enriching and amazing … just to be able to immerse yourself in the culture is unforgettable and the most amazing thing I’ve been able to do in my life,” said Robert Merchant, a senior who is looking forward to the Baltic trip.

“Especially for someone like me who is pursuing music in college … it’s an experience I cannot wait for.”

The opportunity for the students to perform in other countries allows the students to not only travel, but present an art form. Students will perform four to five concerts that will include American folk songs and African American spirituals and gospels, Baggett said.

“It’s not just going on a trip with people, it’s also bringing an art form to present,” Baggett said. “It’s an experience they won’t get anywhere else.”

To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email or call 530-477-4230.

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