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Rockport Music Department Trip to Austria and the Czech Republic

Clara Collins, Contributor

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Over the Rockport Schools’ April vacation, members of the school band, orchestra, and chorus took an overnight flight from the Logan Airport to Munich Airport in Munich Germany. From there, the group boarded a smaller plane and flew to the Václav Havel Airport Prague, where they met their tour guides and left the airport and found their hotel.

To finish off the day of travel, the team settled in to their hotel, and had dinner on a river cruise of the Vtalva River thorough the middle of the city. Although a little rainy, the group mingled on top of the boat as well as inside, snapping pictures and taking in the scene around them.

The next morning, the chorus, orchestra, and band all participated in workshops at a music school in Malá Strana (the Lesser Town) in Prague. Afterwards, the groups split further into small groups of six to seven people, and explored the area. Later in the afternoon, the groups re-assembled into two larger groups and left on a tour from Castle Town, to the Old Town Square, where they split up again to search for a good dinner.

On the second full say of the trip, the two big groups left again on a tour of the Old Jewish Quarter, visiting Synagogues and Memorials dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust. They met up again back in the Old Town Square, where the small groups were allowed to split off again for some free time. The Old Town Square is one of the more touristy areas of the city, and the kids came across all sorts of street performers, including someone dressed up as a big Polar Bear, who was taking pictures with all of the tourists. As evening came around, everyone piled back into the buses, and drove to the Salesian Theater, where they performed pieces ranging from the orchestra’s Serenade for Strings to the chorus’s Blue Bird, to the Jazz Band’s Serenade in Blue, and even Jozin Z Bazin, a comedic Czech song. After the concert, the kids returned to the Old Town Square for dinner.

The kids boarded the buses again early the next morning and departed for Český Krumlov, a Bronze Age city, with an old castle surrounded by the river. When they first got there, small groups went off to find lunch and explore the old architecture before regrouping for a tour. Some groups even climbed to the top of the Český Krumlov Castle tower, to get a view of the whole town. After finishing up their tours, the groups split off again for more free time, during which a few groups found an area to play manhunt, and others bought souvenirs to bring home to their families. Leaving Český Krumlov, the groups headed to České Budějovice for a group dinner, ending their night with a nice walk to their busy hotel.

The next morning, the kids got up early to leave for Austria. On the way to Vienna, they stopped in the small town of Dürnstein, famous for it’s castle in which King Richard the Lionheart was held after being caught by the Austrians on his way back to England from his crusade. In this town, the group split up again, one group exploring the quiet streets, and the other making the hike up to the castle’s ruins, perched on top of the hill. From this location the students took in the view of the valley, with the Danube River running through it. They only had a short amount of time to stop, however, and were quickly boarding the buses again, on their way to Vienna.

After arriving in Austria’s capital, the students went, still in their hiking clothes, to a waltz lesson at the Rueff dance school. After switching between partners for a little while, the kids continued on to dinner, which everyone attended. After the long day of commuting from one country to another, the group checked into their hotel, and went to bed.

The next morning, the Jazz Ensemble 1 visited to Boehavigasse school to rehearse with the school’s jazz band, while the rest of the students went to St. Stephen’s Cathedral to do a sound check for their concert later that night. At 1:30 that afternoon, the Jazz band went to the Porgy and Bess Jazz Club to set up for their 3:00 performance with the students from the Boehavigasse school. The rest of the kids arrived at the club on time to watch their peers perform. Later in the evening, the Orchestra, Chorus, and Symphony orchestra performed at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the performance including the original pieces composed by Robert Bradshaw, “And So Atlas Sighed. Following this performance, the whole group returned to Porgy and Bess to watch a live Jazz show.

After an eventful evening of playing music, the kids woke up the next morning, ready to enjoy a tour of the historical town of Vienna, and take in all of its musical importance. Included in this tour was the Hofburg Palace, built in the thirteenth century by the Hapsburg family rulers, and which still holds the seat of the Austrian Federal President.

Following their tour of Vienna, the students departed for Eisenstadt, home of the Esterhazy Palace, where the famous classical composer Joseph Haydn resided for much of his life, under the rule of the Esterhazy Family, many of whom were music-enthusiasts. At the end of the tour, the students all met up in the Haydnsaal, the room in which many of Haydn’s compositions were premiered, for a short informal concert under the beautiful ceiling frescos. They then made a short visit to the Haydnkirche, a local church housing Haydn’s grave. To round off the day, everyone took a walk to a nearby restaurant for dinner, before returning to Vienna.

The next morning, the group boarded the buses again for a long drive to Salzburg. On the way, they stopped at Melk Abbey, a former palace fortress. They toured the museum of the abbey, ending in the beautiful abbey church, where the chorus had the chance to perform Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus, testing out the perfect acoustics. During this time, the rest of the students observed the frescos and other intricate decorations until it was time to get back on the bus.

As they got closer to the destination, the buses stopped again at a salt mine in Hallein. There, they made the descent via train and slides, into the mine to learn about the importance of salt throughout history, and how it made the region wealthy. Then, they climbed onto the buses for the rest of the trip to Salzburg, learning about many of the falsities of The Sound of Music, which was based in the region they were traveling through.

The next morning, the Orchestra, Band, and Chorus ensembles each attended separate workshops with local professional musicians. In the free time before and after the workshops, some groups climbed a hill to reach the fortress at the top, where they could take in the view of the whole city, while others explored the city from the streets. After lunch, the students split into their two bus groups, to take a guided tour of the city, visiting all of the most important places, including Mozart’s birthplace. Ending the tour at the Salzburg Cathedral, the kids met Professor Metzker, who showed them the organs inside, and gave them an opportunity to play a couple of them, including the largest organ above the cathedral’s entrance. There was then time for the students to return to their hotel in order to freshen up for their Mozart dinner night, consisting of live, costumed performances. This special dinner marked the end of their performance tour.

The next morning, they departed for Munich Airport, and were able to spend a couple hours visiting either the city itself, or the English Gardens, before catching their flight home.

Videos of the performances can be found on the RockportSchoolsMusic channel on Youtube.

About the Writer
Clara Collins, Contributor

Clara will be a junior in the upcoming school year.

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