SUM Music Tour

The Shepherd University Wind Ensemble and Chamber Singers recently returned from a triumphant ten day concert tour throughout Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic this spring, May 17th-26th. Furthering the Shepherd University Department's international reputation for excellence, the trip included invitations to perform as they toured though Munich, Salzburg, Vienna and Prague and surrounding areas. At every point along the way there were life-changing experiences and at each of their performances the young musicians received overwhelming applause from appreciative audiences.

"We teach our students to commit to excellence and to make their lives extraordinary. When we travel abroad, we witness both," said Dr. Mark McCoy, chairman of the Shepherd University Music Department. The Friends of Music, a non-profit organization that supports musical excellence at Shepherd University bringing world-class music and a thriving music program to the community, provided financial assistance to some of the students and helped underwrite a significant portion of the expenses and meals for the tour.

The first concert on the tour, a matinee performance of both the Wind Ensemble and Chamber Singers, took place in Bad Aibling, a lovely resort and spa town near Munich. While in Munich, the group saw marvelous architecture, historic churches, art museums, the Royal Bavarian Palace, the amazing Glockenspeil with its mechanical knights on horse back that joust while revolving to music, and great shops in the center of the city. The group enjoyed a dinner in the Rathskellar at Marienplatz, and dinner and a folklore show at Munich's world famous Hofbrauhaus, the 400 year old beer hall, where Adolf Hitler got his start at speech making.

Wind Ensemble member Jessica Manor was most impressed by the magnificent views of the Alps, but the best part of the trip for music performance major Trevor Rowland was "all the musical history that permeates all these places." En route to Austria from Germany, the group visited Castle Neuschwanstein, built by King Ludwig II as tribute to the German opera composer, Richard Wagner. It is decorated lavishly in a style that reflects scenes from Wagner's Operas.

Kipyn Martin said the best part of the trip was being in Salzburg "walking around the same exact area where Mozart walked," while fellow choir member Kari Edge said it was "the performances...remember why we came here." The Chamber Singers gave an evening concert at Abtenau, in the Alpine district of Salzburg, as one of the music highlights organized by the town commemorating the 200th anniversary of the death of composer Joseph Haydn. In Salzburg, the city of Mozart and the setting of the "Sound of Music" film, the group visited the Mirabell gardens, the narrow Getreidegasse with its many shops, Mozart's birthplace and home, the the Dom (Cathedral) where Mozart worked, and the Hohensalzburg fortress overlooking the city.

Both ensembles performed an afternoon concert in the Austrian spa town of Bad Hall, en route to Vienna from Salzburg, and later enjoyed dinner and live music at a typical Heuriger restaurant in the Viennese suburb of Grinzing. Many agreed with Wind Ensemble member Thad Garrett's comment that one of the best parts about the trip was "definitely the food."

After touring Vienna, the great capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and visiting Schonbrunn Palace, the summer home of the Hapsburg Emperors, where Mozart performed as a child, the Wind Ensemble gave an evening concert titled "Musik verbindet Kontinente" ("Music connects Continents") in the spa town of Bad Tatzmannsdorf, joined by musicians from the Austrian Conservatory Wind Ensemble of Graz. Before departing Austria, the Shepherd musicians paid their respects at the Vienna cemetery where composers Ludwig von Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Carl Czerny, Christoph Gluck, Lotte Lehmann, Gyorgy Ligeti, Leonie Rysanek, Antonio Salieri, Franz Schmidt, Arnold Schonberg, Franz Schubert, the entire Strauss clan, Hugo Wolf, and Alexander von Zemlinsky are laid to rest, along with a monument to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Both the Wind Ensemble and Chamber Singers performed in the medieval town of Nove Mesto na Morave in the Czech Republic, on the way to Prague. Smetana composed his famous tone poem "Die Moldau," or "Vlatava" in the Czech language, about the mighty river that runs through the ancient city of Prague. While in the Bohemian capital, the group visited the Prague Castle, St. Vitus Cathedral and the Golden Lane with its tiny shops and cobblestone streets, the amazing astrological clock on the Town Hall, the Charles Bridge, the Jewish Ghetto, and the Powder Tower. On the final evening of the tour, everyone enjoyed dinner, live music and a folklore show at the U Rotta Restaurant, courtesy of the Tourism Council of Prague. Throughout the tour, the warmth, receptiveness and hospitality left a lasting impression.