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Azusa Pacific won handily in Spittal an der Drau, defeating all opponents by a wide margin

The APU Chamber Singers represented the United States and achieved victory in a prestigious competition this summer with a strong blend of determination, humility and will to succeed.

This year marked the 50th International Choral Competition in Spittal an der Drau, Austria. The Chamber Singers formed one of 10 international choirs selected to compete, and defeated the likes of Spain, Italy and the Czech Republic. The group didn’t just win, however — it won with room to spare.

The Chamber Singers had spent months preparing for the competition, held from July 4-7, and the results served as a testimony to the choir’s hard work.

“Each person knew they had to own their chair and they did,” said baritone singer and junior business administration major Alex Tutungi.

Tutungi had high praise for director Michelle Jensen, saying that despite the group’s humbling lack of experience, the singers had faith in the ability and leadership of their conductor.

Daniel Atwell, a cello performance major and graduate student, sings tenor for the Chamber Singers. He serves as tour manager for the trip and opened up about the future opportunities that the victory presented.

“The victory in Spittal has brought the Chamber Singers international recognition and with that has come, and will come, a number of opportunities and invitations that might not have been previously possible,” Atwell said.

The winning group is still absorbing the gravity of the feats abroad. Corey Mannoia, a senior communication studies major, sings bass for the Chamber Singers and admitted he didn’t expect to place higher than fifth.

“Come on, a group of students from a small Christian university that no one’s heard of, up against nine other, older, more experienced choirs from the countries that practically birthed choral music?” Mannoia said. “I’m still pinching myself three months later.”

Often only regionally noticed and respected for its music program, Azusa Pacific now finds itself in new territory, being firmly cemented on the international map.

“The victory reaffirms the level of musicianship that we strive to create every time we walk into rehearsal,” Tutungi said.

The APU group has already begun building its repertoire for the coming year and the new prospects that lie ahead.

Of course, the conquests abroad remain palpable, and well worth celebrating.

“To be able to say that you’re the best in the world at something is huge, but to do it while worshipping God is just an unbelievable blessing,” Mannoia said. “All of the glory goes to God.”