Biola Chorale Performs Throughout Italy

The singing group performed their concert “Seen & Known” overseas in rare opportunity

The Biola University Chorale had the unique opportunity to perform their concert “Seen & Known” in Italy. As a bonus on the trip, the students were able to explore Italy.

“There are few other opportunities in life that bring about unity and healing like choral singing,” said Dr. Shawna Stewart, director of choral studies and conductor of the Biola Chorale. “There is a level of discipline, self-sacrifice, vulnerability, shared experiences, cultural awareness, exploration of emotion, scriptural and spiritual deepening that, comprehensively, is hard to find anywhere else. We believe that choral music is a gift given by God, to all people, and it is my hope that we will have hundreds of students singing in our ensembles.”

The choral ensemble performed their concert material in Assisi, Florence, Milan, and twice in Rome. Local residents and members of the churches they sang at attended the concerts. One of the concerts was for the congregation Communita Bibblica Cristiana, lay-pastored by Marco Cocuzzi and his wife, alumna Monet (Beardsley) Cocuzzi (’03), a former Biola Chorale member.

“God taught me so much about what it means to worship him through music,” said Alexandra Tong, a sophomore music therapy major. “Especially after having given five concerts of the same repertoire, my familiarity with the music really deepened and allowed me to really reflect on the words, which Dr. Stewart carefully selected. I really felt able to speak each song directly to God in worship, and being able to make music with fellow believers in historically-rich locations was so edifying to my spiritual life.”

What was originally supposed to be a 10-day trip turned into 12 days because of weather delays to flights. The group saw this as a blessing as they were able to spend even more time exploring Europe.

“Aside from planned amazing moments seeing artifacts, the most intimate moments were when we were just spontaneously going places together,” said Joshua Guadarrama, a sophomore business major. “Just staring in awe, exploring the city, it’s so unique to see. We got to bond with people differently, when we were going and exploring another country.”

The entire trip was overseen by the Biola Chorale’s conductor Dr. Shawna Stewart. The Biola University Chorale frequently performs at campus events, churches, festivals, on international and domestic tours and at regional and national choral conferences.

Learn more about Biola’s Conservatory of Music and academic programs.

Written by Ryan Wingert, strategic communications assistant. For more information, email