The Big Rock Singers are back in Okotoks after their trip to Europe.

They were in Italy for the 34th Verona International Choral Competition, where they were the only North American group to perform.

Artistic and Music Director Carey Gruber was incredibly crowd of the local choir.

"I was very proud of our tour choir, I thought it was the best we had sung in all the rehearsals and all of the performances. They rose well above expectations. We did super well, there were gold, silver, and bronze categories and we placed at the top of the bronze category, which, for a first competition for a non-auditioned community choir is fantastic."

She was able to chat with two of the adjudicators, one from Germany who she'd previously met on a previous tour of Austria, and another from out West.

"The American adjudicator was wonderful to us and specifically made a point of coming to me after the award ceremony to say how impressed he was, how proud he was of us. I think he would've been the one to understand the type of music we sang the best. The American choral tradition is very different from the European choral tradition. They sing acapella pretty much only. We sang two acapella pieces but the accompanied pieces we sang were very different. The American adjudicator, he got it."

Verona wasn't their only stop.

"We ended by singing in the largest church in the world at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. How do you even start to explain that experience? It was incredible," says Gruber.

She describes the sound as unlike anything most people will have ever heard.

"We can't experience anything even remotely like that here. For tour choir members who have never been in Europe, that was awe-inspiring. As a singer, to sing in that resonant environment where you don't need microphones, speakers, amplifiers, all that kind of stuff, it's different. It's a little scary in the beginning until you relax into the beauty of it and then just soak it all in."

The Big Rock Singers will be performing in front of a hometown audience once again on May 27 with two shows as part of their East Coast Kitchen Party.

More information can be found here.