Trista Taylor and Tony Knuth, both from New London High School, were nominated by NLHS Band Director Adam Hardt to take part in a 16-day musical performance tour of Europe this summer, through the Wisconsin Ambassadors of Music. The class “Europe: Exploring Music and Culture” is utilized to reward the students for their knowledge and experiences that were a part of the Wisconsin Ambassador’s of Music European Tour.
Part of a 180-member band of participants from all across the state, Tony played the saxophone and Trista the oboe. Trista’s mother, Peggy, was able to attend the European tour as well.
The Wisconsin group visited a total of seven countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Italy, and Germany. They performed in London, Paris, Crans-Montana, Seefeld, and Rothenburg.
In order to prepare for the concerts, students attended a three day camp at Carroll College that consisted of nearly nonstop practices. Trista says, “We had three short days to put this music together and make it sound good enough to perform five concerts in foreign countries, and everyone was willing to work at it to produce a finished product, and we all felt proud afterward. All of us had practiced so much to put together a concert that everyone enjoyed in the end, and we all took back home this accomplishment.”
They performed next to the Thames River in London, and Luxembourg Gardens in Paris. In Switzerland, the town threw a party for the participants after their performance. Trista said, “We could all tell that they loved our music, and it made me feel grateful inside that other countries can also listen to our music and understand what is being said, although they might speak a different language, because music speaks all languages.”
Although July 4 is an American holiday, the town had fireworks for the Wisconsin group. Their performance in the town of Seefeld was met with crowd enthusiasm, especially for the American “marches”. In Rothenburg, they performed in the sun in 100 degree weather. That was actually cooler than the performance in Paris, where it was 105 degrees.
In addition to performing, they had the opportunity to explore tourist attractions. In London, they toured Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace, and saw the changing of the guard, and the Crown Jewels. In Paris they saw the Notre Dame Cathedral, explored the Louvre Museum, and saw the Eiffel Tower.
The Swiss Alps and the Matterhorn were the most memorable in Switzerland. In Austria, the group toured the historic Winter Olympic Games site, and saw ski jumpers practicing on the grass jump. Venice, Italy was a wonderful day of touring the city. Trista and her mom enjoyed exploring the canals on a gondola ride, while others explored on foot.
A visit to Dachau, Germany brought a new awareness to the group. In nearly complete silence, the group toured a concentration camp and witnessed the story of death.
Participants were able to get a grasp of three different currencies used in seven countries. It was a challenge to remember how to convert it to American to understand fully how much money was being spent. Instead of waiting in long lines at the telephone booth to call home, Trista used a 3G network to connect with family via Facebook.
Despite the challenges of performing in excessive heat, both students thoroughly enjoyed themselves. When asked what their favorite part of the tour was, Tony said enthusiastically, “I loved Switzerland and Germany”. Tony was able to use his three years of German to converse with locals in Rothenburg. He felt proud that he could fully immerse himself in the culture of Germany. Both are thankful for such a unique opportunity to experience the culture of Europe.