Friday, June 29, 2012

Thanks to all for a great trip

For the last twelve days I have taken you along for a ride and what a trip we had together.  I can't tell you how thankful I am to be on this trip and to get to know these amazing young people. I will remember this for the rest of my life and tell stories from it and when I am feeling blue I will look back at these days with warm memories that will fill my heart. But there are some people to thank for this: First - without the support of the GDYO board of directors and the many donors, this trip would not have happened. They have given these young people an opportunity they will never forget. Second - each and everyone of the parents of the students need to be thanked for not only allowing their children to go on this long trip, but also for getting them to rehearsals, making sure they had everything they needed and supporting the organization. You have given you child a wonderful gift - a life experience. Third - The GDYO staff: Yurie Iwasaki - I don't know how many of you know all that she did for this trip. Preparing music, distributing and collecting forms, preparing roommates list and so much more. She did not get to go with us, but every step of the way, Yurie's spirit was there. Our newest member, Amber Oosterwaal. She helped with fundraising and any needs in the office. Amber held down the fort while we were gone and she had great ideas on things to do and to be done. Patrick Herring - He spent many a days preparing instruments, figuring out stage set up and more. He did a fantastic job on this trip, having never seen the stages, he managed to set them up in a timely manner and all with his usual good nature. He had many obstacles to over-come and did it well. Chuck Moore - Without him, none of this would happen. He is the rock that guides the organization and having him on this trip was a comfort to all. He worked closely with the tour company, making sure all the details were as they should be and thanks to that, this was a very smooth trip. Fourth - The chaperones: Nick Geise was the head chaperone and I think everyone on the trip can agree, he was the best. He kept everything organized and a tight schedule. He had the ability to set the rules, yet create a fun atmosphere for all.  All the chaperones who went on tour: David and Laura Olson, Beverly Geise, Celene Mitchell, Norlynn Price, Ping Mayo, Elsa Gonzales, Donna Holmes, Carliss Stewart, Jennifer Fritz, Brad White, and Mitch Magee - they were an amazing team - no kids lost, every where they needed to be and they worked together so well and were so much fun. We laughed for days. Fifth - Mr. G for putting together such amazing music. He brings out the best of each musician and gives them wise words of wisdom. His stories are priceless and his love of these kids is a joy to watch. Sixth - the tour company and guides. I think overall we were very pleased with Classical Movements and Page La Fountain did a great job organizing this trip. Our guides Angie and Lothar became a part of the GDYO family and  we mustn't forget Andreas the truck driver and our bus drivers who could put those oversized buses in the tiniest of places. Seventh - The Germans and Czechs for their amazing hospitality, everywhere we went we were made to feel at home. Our audiences were gracious and supportive. And we are thankful to the two music schools for their hospitality. It was neat to see the kids mix and mingle And finally - to the GDYO members - I have never traveled with such a fun and mature group of young people. You were patient, understanding, polite and adventurous. You made this trip. You worked hard and played hard and you were true ambassadors for the United States. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Last day and concert

Last concert It is hard to believe this tour is ending. Tonight we have the final concert of this 14 day whirlwind tour. The morning started with an amazing run with all my new friends. Bad Mergentheim is a small town full of parks, fountains, beautiful flowers, large trees that provide tremendous shade, and lovely art. It is a place where people come to get well and I can see why. We had the entire morning free, so some went into town to shop, others went swimming or for a walk, and a few packed for the journey home tomorrow. The hall in which we are performing is literally a hop, skip and a jump from the hotel. You would not know that it is a concert hall because the front is all windows and glass doors. Inside there are what look like chandlers of floating glass. The walls are solid wood and the floor a rough designed concrete. The stage is not very large but an extension was added. It is tight but they fit with room to bow. The percussion is on a narrow upper level on the stage and behind them is a mural of gardens. It is odd. The sound is not bad and you would think it would be bright but the ceiling looks to be made of cork which seems to absorb a lot of the sound. We have a pretty good size audience, looks around 100 or so. I'm not sure what the hall holds around 400, but it is an long shape. It is an older audience. I would say the average age is around 70. But that is the majority of people in this area. The ensemble started with Dvorak, today they will run the entire program. It sounds really nice, the hall is warmer then I was expecting I heard a few bravos at the end of it. Next was the Promise of Living from Copland. Very well played, in fact I think I saw a few tears being wiped away. And then the Fall at the Barnard Cottage. It went well, the audience is still warming up to it. And at the end - Pictures at an Exhibition. GDYO once again did a great job. These guys are running on little sleep, we're at the end of the tour, and yet they are playing at such a high level. Just can't get enough of them. Bravos all round from the audience. And the encore - Overture to Candide. I think that is the perfect way to end the tour concerts. If there is one person who knew how to make a splash it was Bernstein and GDYO does it very well. The evening ended with a dinner cruise down the river Mein. It was a nice boat and dinner was a buffet of roast beef, stuffed chicken, pork, stuffed turkey, potatoes and veggies, pasta and salad, fruits and chocolate mousse for dessert. Very nice. I think everyone had a great time mingling and taking pictures. I found myself in quite a few and didn't know what to think of that. It was a long good-bye and honestly I don't think anyone wanted it to end. But tomorrow we have a very long drive and flight. It's going to be a long Thursday.

More comments from kids about trip

More comments from kids about the entire trip:
 The music schools in Germany are scary good, plus the schools are so modern and nice. I wish our schools looked like that. - Brian Geise
 I don't like America and I am so sad we are returning soon, because comparing Texas to Germany is like comparing dirt to a diamond. Germany is just better! - Abby
 I love Germany and eating potatoes everyday. - Erin
 I don't want to go home...The German music schools are all really good. - Samuel K.
 The people in Germany are so friendly! I love my oboe section!!! - Ben Fu
 Germany's been such a great experience. Music, friends, soccer, long bus rides, and the incredible meat and potatoes meal everyday...what not to love! - Lawrence Liu
Germany is pretty awesome when you have such good friends as on this tour. - Matthew Geise
 This place is amazing! I love how everywhere we've been has had a different "flavor" and feeling, but how all have been incredible. I'm going to miss it - already can't wait to come back. - Trevor M.
Germany is such a beautiful country! It finally rained on us yesterday so we were able to bust out the rain gear. And it's finally colder too, so I can finally wear the majority of the clothes I packed thinking it would be like the arctic blast here. - Megan Wright
Can't believe our journey is so close to an end. It's been incredible; the people we've met, the places we've been and the friends we've made. Whether we're tired from rehearsing or from touring, every moment has been unforgettable. - Rooha Khan
One of the best musical experiences of my life. - Regan
 The opportunity to perform in Europe has been absolutely incredible. It reminds me that music is indeed the universal language. - Ina
I really enjoyed the guided tours - Alicia Nguyen
It gets harder and harder to get up every day because we're getting more and more tired, but I'm still having the time of my life. I have loved meeting other musicians! - Emily Long
The best parts are the market places and free time on our own. That's when we get to see theh city as explorers. - Masie O'Brien
I loved seeing Weimar and meeting the German musicians! Everything we've seen has been wonderful and the weather just keeps getting cooler and better. - Caroline Magee
I love Europe so much! Performing at different places has been the best. Also, a bird nearly flew into our room today so that was fun - Chris Pawlowski
I loved walking around Weimar! I really love the feeling of the cities we've been to. It's really gorgeous here! I also loved meeting other musicians here because they were so friendly! Also, salt and pepper in water makes a fancy drink - thank Ina and Dylan I love the weather here! Definitely a change from the other cities we visited. I'm so sad our last concert is tomorrow! - Allison Beck
Listening to the youth orchestra from Weimar was incredible and is inspirational knowing our potential is more than we could dream - Drew Johnson-Scott
These past twelve days have been filled with unforgettable experiences and adventures. I love Europe and definitely will be coming back again someday. Also, the concert venues have been incredible - Caitlin Garcia
This experience has been so incredible that I can't even put it into words. I will never forget the friends I've made and the places I've been. I can't believe it's almost over. - Holly O'Brien
This tour has been so much fun and exciting. It is so great to be exposed to the social, geographical, and historical aspects of a foreign culture. I constantly find myself excited to see what the next city will be like. - Phoenix Abbo

Couple of chaperone comments

Comments from the chaperones: Impressions nearing the end of the tour: Will miss the patchwork greens of the German hills and countryside and the cooler days of these last few when we return to the browns and heat of Texas; Looking forward to ice and choosing which Mexican food restaurant to patronize, however, the European championships is in full swing and all the kids have soccer fans, mostly for German of course. Forcing myself to stay awake on the bus so as not to miss any sights; wish I'd worn a pedometer to know how many miles we've walked; Surprised at the prevalence of the giant white windmills thru the countryside, although no in any concentrations like the west Texas wind farms. Now I see a nuclear power plant in the near distance spouting steam and hoping there's not a German equivalent to Homer Simpson. Pleased with the sincere and enthusiastic receptions of our audiences. The kids are performing with a gusto that does not show in any way their underlying exhaustion. An experience that they will cherish the rest of their lives. - David Olson Heard from a chaperone said by GDYO member: "I'm tired and we haven't even begun the tour." This has been an experience of a lifetime. The GDYO students have been wonderful. They have put on great performances even though they are very tired. I've really enjoyed getting to know my fellow chaperones, especially at the all-important nightly chaperone meetings! I've enjoyed all of the cities we've visited and getting a better understanding of their histories and differences. Music and the arts are a very important element for each of them and I'm certain many of the GDYO students on this trip will return on their own sometimes in their future. I'm very grateful for yet another great opportunity and memory the GDYO has provided for my children. - Nick Geise

Comments from GDYO members about trip

Comments from GDYO members: I think this trip has been so wonderful in many ways - we made amazing music, many new friends, and got to see new places and cities. This trip was really amazing and will be unforgettable. I think that every place we've been to has been beautiful and we've all just "grown" in a lot of ways. Cheers to a good last 3 days of this trip and best last tour concert! - Michelle Yang This trip has been amazing! It's wonderful to get to visit a place with a beautiful landscape and awesome halls. It's also been great meeting new people, both German and GDYO (and it's inspiring to realize how much young  talent we have) I've definitely enjoyed spending more time with so many musicians. I almost wish the tour wouldn't end! It's all been an amazing experience. - Samantha Guu This trip was really amazing and it's not even over yet! The food was really good, the music was really good (even the Mussorgsky that we never finished!) and the palaces, castles, churches and cute little stores were unbelievable. I want to stuff Europe in my suitcase and take it back with me...but I think it'd be over the weight limit. - Sophie Druffner I'm just so grateful to be lucky enough to be invited! The places we've been to have been so historical, it's incredible! The beautiful landscapes have been amazing, too. I think we've really accomplished our biggest goal for the tour - to make music. On the side, I've grown a lot personally, too, and I've made so many friends. This experience has been so great. It's an irreplaceable opportunity. - Veronica Zheng With only one concert to go, it's alright to say that this trip has been absolutely fantastic. In this past week and a half, we have grown musically, personally and even physically (from the walking tours). I'm really glad that I was fortunate enough to be part of this trip, and I really think we have made the best of it - by making music. - Derek Yan There's so much to say, so many amazing moments that I can't even begin to describe, so with a yawn I'll leave it up to you to imagine how wonderful this trip was how fortunate I was to have this opportunity, and how truly stunned I am at every moment of the day. - Ben Chilton I've had so much fun on this trip. I've never laughed harder in my life. I've also grown a lot as a person and as a musician. I'm so glad to have made so many great new friends and to have grown closer with the ones I've had. This trip is amazing. I second that. (what the person above said) Not only have I enjoyed seeing all the beautiful European cities, I've loved getting to meet so many awesome people and getting to know them through amazing experiences. - Harini Wow. I've gotten very close to students that I didn't even know the names of before we departed DFW. I've loved every thrilling day touring the cities, palaces, castles and churches. I've loved chilling with my friends watching the Euro Futbal cup. Thank you chaperones, parents, and GDYO for such a wonderful opportunity. - Haley Greenia I have had many mixed emotions on this trip. For first I thought I would dread the busy schedule and constant rules; However, as the days rolled by I realized the magic behind the making music and new friends. Each performance was special along with each moment with everyone on tour. I am very blessed to do the things I love on the tour: music, making friends, and traveling. I will definitely miss the GDYO program, but I will never forget the awesome moments of laughter, crying and fun enjoyable times. - Sonia Villanueva This trip has been a really amazing growing experience. I feel like I've grown as a musician, as a section leader, and I feel like I've grown in appreciation for classical music and the music we're playing. I don't wan to go home.  I originally didn't want to come, but how much I've changed my mind now. Making music with old and new friends was a really bonding experience and it's so much fun talking about all our tour guides and being exceptionally trollish during free time. I'm sad I can't go on another tour, but thanks to everyone (Patrick, Tonya, Mr. G, Mr. Moore, Mr. Geise and chaperones and the whole orchestra) for the best time of my life.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Weimar and concert 5

Visit to Weimar and concert. We had a late start on Monday which was nice. No getting up at the crack of dawn but a little time to get ready and enjoy a nice breakfast. We went into town for a walking tour. It was very cold (by Texas standards) and it rained but most everyone was prepared with umbrellas, jackets or hoodies.  The tour took us around the city and Weimar is a city of the arts. Composers such as Bach, Liszt, Wagner and even Mahler spent many days there. It is also known for literature as Goethe was born there and lived a large part of his life in the city. But it seemed like every building we went by was the home of some important musicians, poet, writer, actor, etc. This small town which is so quaint looks nothing like you would think a city out of the communist days. It is colorful and full of life. After the tours there was time for lunch and shopping. There were also museums to tour and parks to walk through. Over all it was a nice day, even with the rain and colder weather. We headed off to rehearsal at the Belevarde School. It is a school of music and has contemporary buildings mixed with the older style. The performance venue is unique. Shaped like a horseshoe the orchestra is on the far end at the bottom of the horseshoe. Risers go up about five steps, which is where people will sit for the concert. Behind the orchestra is a large window that looks out to large trees and has a view of the town. The school sits up on a hill. Patrick was not sure how the orchestra would fit but it looks really nice, the seem to have plenty of space. Acoustically it is bright as the floor is wood and the ceiling and part of the columns concrete.  The school will be performing on the concert along with the GDYO.  We had dinner at the school, originally we were supposed to eat with the German students, but the dining area was not big enough to house both groups. Concert 5 This was a joint concert with the Belvederer Orchester. They opened with Sinfonie no. 5 mvt 2. It really was a nice performance, mellow and relaxed. Then they performed Ritual Dance by Manuel DeFalla. It was a fun adventure and they played very well.  GDYO performed Carnival Overture, Fall at the Barnard Cottage and Pictures at an Exhibition.  Overall a good concert. The audience loved them as they seem to every where, but honestly can you blame them? Nice solos tonight from Lizzie Kang, flute, Haley Greenia, horn, Reagen O'Connor, trumpet. Lots of yells and whistles at the end and these kids can whistle. Audience really enjoyed again. Encore this evening  - Nimrod from Elgar. I personally can never tire of this piece and GDYO does such a lovely job. The rain was falling behind them and the trees swaying in the wind. It seems almost too perfect and I don't know how these amazing things keep happening. Next encore - Overture to Candide - great solos by all.  After the concert the GDYO members got to hang out with the German students. Once agian I think a few new friendships were made. I wish they would have had more time to spend together but the school had a curfew and it was the end of a very long day for us. But hopefully a few emails and facebook addresses were exchanged.

A few more comments on Dresden from kids

More comments on Dresden: Dresden has been my favorite city so far! This will probably be the city I remember the most! - Allie Stewart Dresden is very beautiful with great buildings and a calm atmosphere. I really enjoyed the experience of meeting the German musicians as well. - Phoenix Abbo I definitely think that Dresden is the most beautiful city we've seen so far. The mix of old and new is balanced and gives the city so much character. Dresden has been my favorite! - Emily Cheng I love Dresden! I loved exploring the city and meeting the musicians! They were so nice and welcoming. - Holly O'Brien Let's just put it this way - I took almost 400 pictures in the 2 days we were in Dresden. - Cailtlin Garcia I loved going on the walking tour of Dresden in the evening - the city was so beautiful at night. I also really enjoyed playing with the Dresden musicians in their orchestra - it was a unique, wonderful experience. - Caroline Magee Mingling with students from the conservatory was an amazing opportunity! Communication poses no threat when we are equipment with the power of interpretive dance. - Masie O'Brien I think we should've just stayed in Dresden all trip long. Good food, great music, awesome architecture, fantastic people. - Samuel Kang The walking tour of Dresden was one of the most fun parts of the trip. Gorgeous buildings and history, active city life, and tons of fantastic street (and tunnel!) performers made it great fun! Playing with the German students for their half of the concert was wonderful as well - they were all incredibly skilled and so kindhearted. - Trevor Meagher Dresden is probably my favorite city we've traveled to. It's so clean and safe and nearly everything is fresh and new. All of the German students we met were so fun and polite. I'm also starting to become a soccer (or I guess I should say futbol) fan! - Megan Wright A great blend of modern and old, Dresden is wonderful city! Great weather and host in Dresden added to this fantastic two days! - Rooha Khan  The concert hall in Dresden was magnificently beautiful and meeting the German kids was so much fun to learn the cultural differences! - Drew Johnson-Scott Dresden was a very hospitable city and I loved staying here and wish I could stay longer! - Jennifer Cho Not only is Dresden surrounded by beautiful architecture at every turn, it is also very home-y and clean. So far, I've enjoyed staying here the most. Good food, interesting buildings, and charming atmosphere, nice people. - Lucy Cheng Dresden has had, in my opinion, the most positive atmosphere of all the cities we've visisted. In my future travels, I hope to visit it again. - Zachery  Dresden is a really nice place! Everything looks really nice and clean. The people over there are really nice too! - Ujwal Madhavapeddi An amazing two days in Dresden - I loved everything about it! the food, the architecture, and the people! Can't wait to visit again in future travels. - Allison Beck Dresden is such a gorgeous city! The walking tour in the evening was incredible. I also really loved meeting the people from the music school - we were soon friends. I really loved staying in Dresden and I hope to visit again. - Tiffany Mourlam Dresden was amazing! The architecture and history of the city really makes it special. I also love how its full of music - Jack McKay. Dresden has a great history. Tour guide was awesome. People were good looking and friendly. Nice and spacious walking - beautiful buildings and river. One of my favorite places. - Alicia Nguyen