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

Monday, June 25, 2012

Leipzig and drive to Weimar

Leipzig and drive to Weimar Our 1.5 drive to Leipzig was once again beautiful. I don't know the last time I have seen so much green. Couple of interesting things - you seen tons of the modern wind mills up in the hills. According to our guide they switched from coal to wind power some time in the 80s and you will see no houses around them because of the noise. You also see many solar panels on roofs and in fields. We saw one barn where the roof was completely covered.  We arrived in Leipzig to wonderful weather and begin our walking tour. It's not that big of a place and fairly easy to get around. It was a Sunday, which means almost all of the shops are closed. You see a few coffee shops and restaurants open, but not many. And there were a lot of people out, strolling around, eating ice cream, enjoying the sun.  We were shown the train station which looks like a giant mall with trains in it. Seriously, shop after shop of food, clothes, shoes, knick-knacks and more. Leipzig was known as a merchant town, so the guide showed us the many places where markets were held for selling goods. But of course the high light was St. Thomas Church where Bach was the choir master. We had hoped to see a service but were unable to. It's a simple church with beautiful ceilings and the man himself is buried there. I personally can now mark something off my to-do list. After the tour we had lunch in Auerbach's Keller. It's a historical restaurant where Goethe spent many days and supposedly wrote Faust there. It's a fairly dark room with yellow walls and Faust paintings everywhere. We had your usual potatoes, chicken and veggies with ice cream for dessert. Not a bad lunch. Afterwards we split into groups - you could either go to the Bach museum, Mendelssohn's  home or the train station to shop.  We had a good mix for all groups. Oh, I have to tell you a funny story about Heidi the opossum. Several years ago the Leipzig zoo was given a opossum from North Carolina (shout-out!) and she was cross-eyed. Apparently this little creature was very popular with school children and they came from miles around to see her. People would take vacations to Leipzig just to see this opossum. She died a few years back but still lives in the hearts of all. We found some strange pastries that looked like a cross-eyed opossum. If they weren't so expensive I would have bought one for you to see. Afterwards, we loaded up and headed to Weimar, which was about 1 hour. Our hotel is not in town but across the way in a small suburb. It's actually really nice with a swimming pool, spa area, bikes and places to walk. The rooms are spacious and very clean.  At the hotel, we had dinner which was a buffet of the usual Germany foods. The sky turned dark and it turned chilly and rained so the kids hung out at the hotel, swimming, watching the soccer game, playing games and relaxing.  It was good to get a little rest and relaxation. 

More comments from kids

Comments from kids about Dresden and Miscellaneous things:  The coolest thing we've done is tour the porcelain place. I loved learning about it. The best thing I've done was nailing Trularies in Pictures and the strangest thing I've done was seeing the self-cleaning rotating toilet at the gas station! "Running is the best way to explore a new city." Tonya's wise words proved to be true this morning. I experienced/enjoyed the fresh air, beautiful nature, exquisite architecture, daring squirrels, perfect weather of Dresden all in a 2.5. mile run - Harini The coolest thing: a train station that looks like the opera house. Why can't we have these in America? The strangest thing: a guy with a huge mohawk that was orange. The best thing: playing Stars and Stripes at the Smetana Festival. That was the most fun I've had in an orchestra ever. The coolest thing: the rebuilt Fravenkirche in Dresden, and how they put every brick of the ruins back in their original place. The strangest thing: Bubble tea at McDonald's. The best thing: Playing in the open air at Litomysl.  The coolest thing I have seen would be the paintings representing the movements from Pictures at an Exhibition that were showcased at our concert in Litomysl. The strangest thing I have seen would probably be the array of crazy drinks with their "special ingredients." So far the best memory would be the outdoor music festival in Litomysl. The crowd was so great and performing all the encores was really rewarding along with seeing the joy on the crowd faces. The best experience: playing at Litomysl. The coolest stage and audience, breathtaking sound, and best performance. The coolest things: tie between statues and fruit stands. Prague's statues lean and glare at the people in the streets having an eery life to them. But fresh German fruit is so tasty! The strangest things: six person tourist bike and crazy German futbol fans yelling in the streets. On of the funniest nights was watching a German soccer Germany. I also enjoyed getting to talk with some German kids my age. The castles are nice too. Favorite: seeing the opera house and getting free time to explore each city. Strangest: Naked dude on the river bank in Munich. Coolest: The castle that we played at! It was so beautiful. It made me decide to be a princess when I am older. ; ) Coolest thing: Getting to walk around the arts/ theater district in Dresden was an amazing experience. The way that they have restored some of their buildings using the same parts of the buildings from before the WW II bombings made them even more beautiful. Best thing I've done: Two things - getting to watch the soccer games with everyone crammed into one hotel room has been a ton of fun. I love how everyone here is so passionate about this sport. Another thing I loved doing was meeting the German students yesterday. I had my doublts about meeting them because I was nervous that the language barrier would make trying to communicate uncomfortable. However, they all spoke English very well. And not only were we able to just have a basic conversation, we were really able to relate to them and what they go through in everyday life. Being able connect so easy with them was an amazing experience. The coolest thing I have experienced in Germany is the camaraderie and support of their national team. America could learn from that. The strangest thing I have seen is that a hotel still used keys instead of key cards. The best thing I have done is meet more people in GDYO and communicated with people without spoken language. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Comment from Mr. Giangiulio

A note from Mr. Giangiulio This has been a most wonderful tour in every way. We are making great music, great friends and growing in so many postive ways. We have had careful planning and there have been no last minute "problems" that usually pop up on such a complicated schedule. The kids are great and are happy and enjoying themselves, while playing at a professional level. It couldn't get better! Mr. "G"

A few comments from the kids about Dresden

Comments from kids on Dresden: Dresden was awesome! The German musicians were very nice and it was fun to watch and play with them. They were also interesting to talk to and it was fun to watch Aakash talk to them in German. And their concert hall was amazing! So beautiful. I wish we'd gotten to play the Elgar there too, but the other pieces sounded good also... - Samantha Guu It was really cool talking to the German youth orchestra. Listening to them play was really awesome. - Michael Wang Dresden was much less urban than Munich but much prettier than Prague. Playing with the German orchestra was very interesting and a lot of fun even though I was confused during the rehearsal. - Daniel Chilton Dresden was a phenomenally relaxing town with such beautiful architecture - made imagining its destruction in WW II abhorrent.  To be honest, it was like the perfect date place. - Ben Chilton Dresden was pretty cool. The German students were pretty good at their instruments - Franklin Jia Dresden is a beautiful city, and I love the way in which they rebuilt their amazing buildings. I really like the climate there, and the picnic was a great social event for getting to know the other people. The coolest thing was that Lutheran church that got knocked down into ruins. Now it's rebuilt all shiny and new, except they pieced back the remaining stones from the ruins into the walls of the church! - Veronica Zheng Dresden is absolutely beautiful, just like a lot of the other European cities we have been to. Although the architecture is starting to look all the same, I am really impressed of Dresden's beauty. - Derek Yan It was nice to meet all the German music students yesterday! They're all nice and fun to be around. I love how each building is so freaking pretty!!! Ahh. - Michelle Yang The best thing I have was tour Dresden in the evening. The temperature was perfect and the city was beautiful! Dresden was really pretty I very much enjoyed playing with the German students and getting to know them. Watching the game was really fun and I like getting to know more of the kids here in GDYO! - Emily Dresden and I are like Peanut butter and jelly; The sweet nature of the city makes me a complete nut. The Hochschule was AMAZING!!! The concert in Dresden was concrete proof that GDYO concert always end with a BANG! Oh yeah and Tonya rocks! Team Donna! - Aakash Patel

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Our 2.5 hour drive back to Germany on Friday was very lovely. Almost the entire way was scenes of rolling hills and bright green pastures. It was a very calm bus drive. Kids slept, read, talked silently or enjoyed the views. It was a perfect day of mild weather and partly cloudy skies. Are you getting the impression it was almost perfect? We spent part of the morning and lunch in the small town of Meissen, touring the Albrechtsberg Castle. It was a quaint place and the kids had about two hours after the tour to wander around and shop, eat, and explore.  We arrived in Dresden and had been a bit weary about the hotel but we soon found it to be alright. It was built during the Socialist reign but had been updated somewhat. You could still see bit of the old way but over all, I think pretty good. No air conditioning! But the weather has cooled and the windows open. We had a nice fun dinner at the hotel, it was Ben Chilton's Birthday so several of the kids surprised him with a performance of happy birthday (on instruments) in the restuarant. Dinner was a buffett and we had a lot of choices.  After dinner we took a night tour of the city of Dresden. The soccor game was starting at 8:45 and people were all over dressed in German colors. We had a nice walking tour of the city and I am ready to move here. The river Elba runs through the city and it is filled with lovely buildings. Almost 70 percent of them were destroyed during the war so everything we have seen was reconstructed and they did an amazing job recreating the look of the old buildings and churches. After the tour we came to the hotel to relax, watch the game and just hang out. I think everyone enjoyed it. Saturday - We took a walking tour of the Semper Opera house and then headed to the Saxony School of music for a rehearsal. The school is a mix of old and new. In some ways it reminds me of Booker T. in Dallas, but with no theatre, dance, or art department. But it is very nice and all the GDYO students are making some new friends. The Junges Sinfonieorchester Dresden opened the concert with a piece written for them - Tierische Variationen by Johannesburg Wulff-Woesten. I would describe it as a mix of jazz, american folk and Gershwin all combined together. It is different. We have a few of our kids performing with them as they needed a few extra players - Sam Guu, Aakash Patel, Caroline Magee, Daniel Chilton, Megan Wright, and Trevor Meagher. GDYO performed after a brief break. They started with the Copland and then the Mussorgsky. Some very nice solos from Christopher Pawlowski, bassoon and Brian Geise, saxophone. This hall is not made for large orchestras and so everything is double the sound. You have to imagine how the big parts sound, filling the room with this enormous wall of broad waves of vibrations. During the piece I was moving around taking photos and noticed the students from Dresden fingering along or nodding with approval. They ended with the Dvorak and the small audience liked it.  After the concert we went to the school of music and it was located in a beautiful area of Dresden. Lots of large, ornate homes. The school has a park as part of the property and they had an outside buffet of food geared toward American teenagers. Fries, Chicken nuggets, pizza and a salad. At first everyone was separated and then you begin to see them mingle and before we knew it, friendships had been made and the kids did not want to leave. There were impromptu games of soccer, catch and tag. I think a great time was had by all. Later we returned to the hotel for down time. My laptop has been kidnapped.... Daniel and Ben are the coolest people ever. Like seriously, you don't even know. and I scored a goal against them and its still Chiltons 0. proudest moment of my life. 

Comments of Prague from GDYO members

Comments on Prague:  I learned that everyone here is very appreciative of classical music. It really surprised me how I was going down the hallway while humming "The Great Gate of Kiev" and a random lady hummed along too! and even the little children and teens really like classical music too. - Michelle Yang I didn't so much learn, but really realized the political past of the country. It seems things don't hit you until you're in the middle of the issue. I really enjoyed the Czech Republic and, as always, loved their appreciation for the arts. I thought it was very interesting that even though this country is so old and has such a rich history, it is a relatively new democracy. Living in America, we take the "democracy" way at living for granted. I liked how our tour guide explained to us that the people's mind sets have yet to change to match the new government. It's a concept I've never really thought about before. - Harini Suresh I was sort of surprised (pleasantly) that some stores accepted Euros Maybe just in tourist areas though. Still, why keep Kournas if you accept Euros? I thought is was really cool how so much history is crammed together in the Czech Republic. In any given city you can see ancient churches and buildings next to communist flats next to modern hotels. Also the wildflowers are really pretty. I really liked the buildings and all but it seemed like a poor county because of the communism and everything. I liked some of the people though, but I think while a lot were friendly, some Czechs were hardened by the Communists' rule.  I learned that Prague is beautiful yet very uncomfortable. I was surprised by how receptive the crowd in Litomysl was.  Prague was beautiful. It was hard to be at ease sometimes because of pick-pocketing, but all-in-all I had a great time seeing all the history. Prague was a beautiful city with a few rough places. I loved the cathedral that went to on our city tour! But I am looking forward to German food again. The Czech Republic is definitely much different than anything I'm used to. There were many beautiful aspects and I was fascinated by the country The Czech Republic was a very interesting place to visit. It was a little bit creepy to see buildings and flats from the time of communists rule. Prague was awesome. I was not as impressed with Prague as I had thought I was going to be. The area next to our hotel was a bit sketchy and Prague was very very crowded and touristy. That being said, the old churches and castles were very beautiful for sure. I really enjoyed Litsomyl. The Czech Republic was an interesting city, although somewhat dangerous in terms of pick-pocketing. Visiting Smetana's birthplace was a mind boggling idea. Still, the best part of being on tour is the fact that music can bypass the language barrier. I'm shocked to see how this country is still stuck with some of communist's foot print. (the apartment buildings) My favorite part was the concert: beautiful outdoor stage setting and the people were just so nice and happy! I really enjoyed walking around and seeing buildings that were older than our nation. They were beautiful. Prague was beautiful, you just had to look past the communist imprint on the city. Pretty things and rich culture. Bad food and sketchy people. Still liked it though. My stomach didn't.  There is beauty in the most unlikely places. At first Prague did not seem that pleasant, but considering it's political past I can totally see the improvement. It's fascinating seeing the transformation throughout the country. Although the Czech Republic is not on the top of my list, I will still appreciate the arts in Prague, the classical arts are still alive in the hearts of those in the Czech Republic.  A Poem: Rain on pavement An open countryside sprawls before me. then, out of nowhere: a bustling city,  beautiful lights. The world here tastes a bit fresher. 

Thank you to stage crew

Patrick would like to give a huge thank you for his crew on this tour.  These people have been making sure all the instruments and equipment get loaded onto and off the stages. They have been invaluable in what is essentially a thankless task and Patrick would not have been able to do it without them. Loading crew Percussion Chris Hadley Kaleen Colvin Adam Holmes Dylan  String Bass Troy Tippawang Ian Simpkins Pete Walsh Trevor Drew Lower brass Preston Beck Trevor Meagher Zakery Lewis Kevin West Harp Ina McCormack Chaperones David Olson Brad White

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Day 7 and Concert 3 in Litomysl

On the road to Litomsyl This has to be one of the most beautiful drives this writer has done in a long time. Rolling hills, long lines of fields and patches of tall tress all in the many shades of green with patches of yellow and white thrown in. The white, I learned is poppy seed (not opium) used in a special pastry called Kolache. We arrived in the small town of Litomsyl (pop. 10,000). It is lovely and very quaint. It was probably the most relaxing day we have had since we arrived. A picnic in a beautiful park for lunch. People kicked off their shoes and enjoyed the cool breezes. Kids didn't have balls to play with, so the lunch apple became a tossing toy. It was fun to watch them throw them back and forth to each other. A little free time to wander around and then a short tour of Smetana's house and then off to rehearsal. Kids really loved the venue. I personally am very jealous and would love to be up on stage with them.  After rehearsal a little fun around city spending all their money as we are leaving tomorrow and it is best to spend the Kournas then keep them.  Dinner was at a school cafeteria and it wasn't bad. A chicken soup that was very delicious, beef with rice and sauce, salad, sweet carrots and watermelon. It was prepared for us by the ladies who do the school lunches and honestly it was very fresh. We were told by our guide that all the cooks at any school are professionally trained and started going to school for cooking at 16. They are trained to cook with only the freshest ingredients. Gotta love that. After dinner we headed back to the hall to prepare for the concert.  Concert 3 - Litomsyl Festival I am sitting in an upper balcony section. The area is square shaped, the orchestra is below in the square in an outside stage but they are covered. In front of them are rows and rows of seats. Behind me is a view of the city and Smetana's birthplace. I have gorgeous views of so many things. It is a beautiful evening. The air has cooled and there is a slight breeze. Clouds float through the sky and the setting sun is behind us kissing another part of the castle. Birds are flying all around and dogs are barking off in the distance. It is truly surreal. The air has a clean smell and is most relaxing.  And all this is happening while the Copland is being performed. I'm going to say it - I love my job, you cannot get much better then this. Next they performed the Xi Wang, a nice performance but I'm still not sure if the audience is warming up. The Dvorak is really starting to come together and by the end of the tour it should be close to perfect. Once again the audience loved it.  Pictures at an Exhibition was much better tonight, the kids seemed more relaxed so the solos were lovely. I want to say nice job to Trevor Meagher for the Euphonium solo. One very cool thing to tell you about - in the lobby there are a series of paintings, each represent the movements of Pictures at an Exhibition. They were painted just for this concert and were only on display for one night. Also, the artist was there and people could meet him. I have pictures and promise to post. Four encores were performed. This audience loved them. After every encore they were on their feet, cheering and clapping. On Stars and Stripes people were clapping and dancing. It was really fun to be a part of this and if there was one concert I could bring you all to, it would have been this one.  Fantastic!

Day 6 - tour of Prague and Concert 2

Day 6 - tour of Prague This was a long hot day but we made it. The day started with a bus ride into the town of Prague. Our tour guide pointed out just about every building and there were many stories. Almost too many. Stories starting from 900 AD all the way up to the end of Communists rule in the 20th century. Every building had a history. Our walking tour started at the bottom of the hill and we slowly walked our way up to the castle and Saint Vitus. Beautiful but very crowded. There were tour groups everywhere. Luckily we were wearing our blue tour shirts and you could spot GDYO members easily. It was hard to hear the guide at times but overall I think everybody learned a little of something about a lot of stuff. We walked through the old town - up and down and finally came to the Charles Bridge ending at the Astronomical Clock. And again, people everywhere. We were warned to watch out for the pick-pocketers as this was where they would be. GDYO did well, not a single thing lost or stolen.  We had an hour break for lunch in groups and then met up to go to the rehearsal at the hall.  It's a beautiful space and I will talk more about it in my review of the concert. After rehearsal it was off to dinner. We crammed into a small restaurant and were served - ham wrapped with cream cheese and onion. It was different and I'm not sure how many people liked it. For the main course, we had chicken, potatoes and small salad and dessert was a wafer cookie with whipped cream. The kids found the meal to be okay. Everyone tried to find something they liked and we all discussed the secret ingredients. We headed off to the concert. We got back to the hotel later then we wanted as the loading of the truck took awhile. Poor Patrick had his work cut out for him. The elevator up to the stage was very small and would usually only hold one, maybe two things as it had to be operated by someone from the venue. I would guess it took 20 trips or more to get all the stuff up. But he had a great crew of GDYO parents and students and staff from the venue. All were very tired after our day and as I write this we are on the way to Litomsyl and I think they are all asleep.  These kids are working hard and doing a great job. And the chaperones are magnificent. Everyone is running on little sleep but pulling together to create some amazing things.  Concert 2 After a very hot day and lots of walking, the GDYO had to perform their second concert. Many of them kept telling me they didn't think they would make it. But I knew they would and they did. Another fabulous performance! The hall is Baroque in style. Two beautiful chandeliers hang from the ceiling, decorated in gold with leaves and flowers. A large balcony wraps around the building which is a perfect square. The ceiling is decorated in paintings of gods and the windows are round with small angels around them. To see an 80 piece orchestra is truly breath-taking. You can just imagine people dancing around the wooden floors.  GDYO started once again with the Dvorak. There were some lovely solos from the winds and the Concertmaster, Samantha Guu and Principal Second, Hannah Price.  The audience loved it, although this audience is much different than the Munich audience. I would say much more reserved.  Next they did the Copland and once again the American sounds filled this 19th century hall and it was fitting. Tonight instead of performing the Xi Wang they did Capriccio Espanyol. Very nice solo from Aakash Patel on violin. Orchestra took us to Spain and I think all the audience enjoyed the trip. It is a very quiet and reserved audience but every so often I will see someone sit up in their chair. I'm up in the balcony and people keep standing to get a look. There are many smiles. Intermission And now onto to Pictures at an Exhibition It is such a hard piece and I keep getting impressed with how well they play. I'm watching the audience throughout the performance and their eyes are glued to the orchestra. It's quite intense. I think I may have even seen a few tears. Encores Nimrod - lovely and moving  - a few kids thought that was the highlight of the evening They ended with Overture to Candide and a standing ovation.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Day 5 on the road to Prague

Day 5 A visit to Dachau and onto Prague. We started our morning fairly early and left Munich. Our first stop was the Concentration Camp of Dachau. It is, to say, sobering. The GDYO kids were extremely attentive to the guides and in all I think they learned a few new things about an important piece of history. From there we headed to Prague. We stopped at a bus stop for lunch and I must say they food was not bad. At the border of the Czech Republic we had to stop so that the driver could pay fees and get papers checked. We were told we might have to show passports, but we did not. Crossing the border there was a definite change in buildings. We stopped at a rest stop and the bathrooms were, to say, interesting. For those of you who don't know, most, if not all, public restroom require a fee to use. Usually around .50 The drive to the city was pleasant. Mostly countryside with a few buildings here and there. Because it is no longer required to stop at the boarder and beyond, many of the businesses have shut down.  Once we entered the city, it was building after building of apartments. It was not what we imagined Prague to look like. Tall, long buildings that are the homes of the 1.5 million people that live here. Most cannot afford homes and this is what the Russians built for the people to live in and they continue to stay there, most have no choice.  It took us a while to get to the hotel as there was no direct way. Twist and turns, u-turns and criss-crossing, I was lost by the time we got to the hotel.  The hotel is okay. It's clean, there are several restaurants and some beautiful outdoor areas.  But it is full of groups (youth groups) from all over the world. The kids are loving it, but trying to sleep is not easy. It is an older hotel and still has features from the communists days.  Dinner was starch, starch and more starch - we had a choice of four meats, four different versions of potatoes and pasta. There was also a mushroom soup, which was pretty good and a small salad bar. There was a lot of white on the plates of kids. We stayed at the hotel that evening as it was late by the time we finished dinner. The kids wandered around and like all good GDYO members, they entertained the tourists in the lobby with an impromptu performance. Several kids played games and most found the free computers and got on Facebook. 

More comments from GDYO about tour

Excited to see Prague and to play our next concert, which hopefully will be a bit more cohesive than our last. Excited to be on the road to Prague. I thought that the Mussorgsky was the best part of our first concert. Undecided about the Xi Wang.  The trip so far has been amazing and its only been a few days. I'm sure Prague will be life changing and I can't wait to see everything there. As this is my first trip in Europe, I am only beginning to realize the true beauty of the outside world. I aspire to in courage any family to travel here someday, to experience the new found love I have developed for this place. Though the trip has only begun, every aspect has captured my attention and I can only imagine how many more are waiting in the near future. Not only have the sights made this trip extraordinary, but the music has as well. Never before have I played in a group with such high caliber, and I am honored to play with and listen to some of the best musicians I will ever meet. My only request is that the trip last 1 more day.... I really enjoyed seeing all the scenery! The castle was beautiful. I can't wait to see Prague! Salzburg was beautiful. All the places we've been have been lovely, and the first concert was a lot of fun. Can't believe it's already day 5. Wow! This has been amazing. I feel like by the end of the trip I will be a somewhat different person. The scenery is just stunning and the culture is magnificent. It's fun to see the difference between Europe and the U.S. I love Europe! I think Munich is on of the coolest cities ever. It's so clean and chic and very international. The food here is delicious, and it's very modern.  Salzburg was my favorite! McDonald's was not. - Chris Germany is awesome possum - Erin This is a great trip, and the concert was fantastic! - Ujwal I'm glad people chose our concert over watching Euro Cup Soccer. - Lawrence McDonald's tasted so much better in Germany. - Daniel I love Germany! The tour's been great so far. Can't wait for Prague! - Allison Beck Germany is such a beautiful country. All the trees are so gorgeous. I like the noise deflectors on the highway. The U.S. needs to invest in some more of those - Megan Wright Note to self: Don't fall asleep on the bus; subject to victimization and unflattering photos. - Rooha Khan This bus ride is significantly more scenic than one in Texas - Holly With all of the delicious bread here, I don't understand how these Europeans stay so skinny. - Caitlin Clapping, so much clapping! Stop clapping..I don't even have Capriccio  out -  I open the door to a store. German: Danka! Me: De Nada? - Drew This trip is incredible! Germany is beautiful and the history behind everything intensifies the experience. - Trevor Meagher The McDonald's here is delicious - Christian Olson This trip is an experience these kids will never forget. Kudos to their parents for making sure their son or daughter has gotten to do this! These kids are so precious to me and I'm loving getting to know them as much as I'm loving Germany and it's sights, culture and people - Laura Olson

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Day 5 - on the way to Prague

Day 5 A visit to Dachau and onto Prague. We started our morning fairly early and left Munich. Our first stop was the Concentration Camp of Dachau. It is, to say, sobering. The GDYO kids were extremely attentive to the guides and in all I think they learned a few new things about an important piece of history. From there we headed to Prague. We stopped at a bus stop for lunch and I must say they food was not bad. At the border of the Czech Republic we had to stop so that the driver could pay fees and get papers checked. We were told we might have to show passports, but we did not. Crossing the boarder there was a definite change in buildings. We stopped at a rest stop and the bathrooms were, to say, interesting. For those of you who don't know, most, if not all, public restroom require a fee to use. Usually around .50 The drive to the city was pleasant. Mostly countryside with a few buildings here and there. Because it is no longer required to stop at the boarder and beyond, many of the businesses have shut down.  Once we entered the city, it was building after building of apartments. It was not what we imagined Prague to look like. Tall, long buildings that are the homes of the 10 million people that live here. Most cannot afford homes and this is what the Russians built for the people to live in and they continue to stay there, most have no choice.  It took us a while to get to the hotel as there was no direct way. Twist and turns, u-turns and criss-crossing, I was lost by the time we got to the hotel.  The hotel is okay. It's clean, there are several restaurants and some beautiful outdoor areas.  But it is full of groups (youth groups) from all over the world. The kids are loving it, but trying to sleep is not easy. It is an older hotel and still has features from the communists days.  Dinner was starch, starch and more starch - we had a choice of four meats, four different versions of potatoes and pasta. There was also a mushroom soup, which was pretty good and a small salad bar. There was a lot of white on the plates of kids. We stayed at the hotel that evening as it was late by the time we finished dinner. The kids wandered around and like all good GDYO members, they entertained the tourists in the lobby with an impromptu performance. Several kids played games and most found the free computers and got on Facebook. 

Comments from kids

Loading out from our Munich Concert, Patrick distracted me with the task of finding an owner for a misplaced percussion part. In this distracted state, I failed to hear the heavily distorted and very German "careful!" from off stage. A platform lowered in front of me, trapping my poor toes between two pieces of stage floor. Screaming in fear, we overcame a language barrier after many failed attempts, releasing the rubber-like, contorted shapes I'd once called my shoes. My big toes escaped with minor bruises, but the emotional scars will last a lifetime. - Chris Hadley What an exciting few days! It's been so enjoyable seeing the sights, watching Chris fail to find love, making beautiful music, watching Chris' toes fall victim to a carnivorous stage. This countryside is absolutely beautiful. - Adam Holmes Dachau was amazing; there was an amazing cool breeze and climate while we had the tour, but it was also pretty depressing in a way - Franklin Jia I really liked Salzburg; the stores, churches, chocolate, and weather. It was amazing. Why is Germany so pretty? I fell in love. Germany is awesome with so much history. I shall come back to Germany when I'm older to try many beers and sausages. The concert was great! It was kind of scary at first, but really fun! I also loved Salzburg, it's so pretty! I got my dad some Mozart chocolate for his birthday. Germany has got to be one of the most pretty places I've ever been to before. Salzburg is so amazing and cool - I like how all the shops are close/right next to each other. I'm so excited for Prague. - Michelle Yang I thought that Salzburg was absolutely amazing. I loved that the city had so much beauty and history, but also a modern area. It seems that support and respect for the classical and performing arts is much greater there. I wish America was more like Austria in that respect. Being a vegetarian, I've probably eaten every type of spaghetti that exists, but nothing can match that steaming bowl of spaghetti I had on our first night in Munich. It was perfectly cooked with just the right blend of olive oil and mozzarella, with two perfect baby tomatoes on top. Mouthwatering. The best part of Germany? The food! I have never fully realized the cruelty man man is capable of until Dachau. The emaciated, piled, murdered bodies, the stringent rules, the intentions to humiliate and torture bodies has sickened me terribly. It has opened my eyes to the importance to remember the dead and to be involved with counteracting the world atrocities today that occur in countries with corrupt governments. I am blessed to be on this tour. Performing at the Gastig Concert hall was truly amazing. It is great knowing that classical music is still alive and well in their hearts. Performing last night also shows that music is an international language. The excitement from the crowd was also electrifying. I can't wait to perform at the schools and festivals. So far the trip has been amazing. Playing the concert last night was fantastic because never before have I played three encores! Going to Dachau today was humbling and gave me time to reflect on how good we all have it. Also I have had a lot of good cheap food! Schnitzel is awesome! Germany has been so much fun! The drives are beautiful, and it is still so surreal being here. Can't wait for Prague! - Kaleen So far my favorite city has been Salzburg. It was beautiful and having and authentic Mozart ball was delicious! - Curtis I thought the concert went pretty well for the first concert. The audience seemed really appreciative. We all played our best and had a good time. I love being in Europe especially with the GDYO. We are all having an amazing time. Yay. Europe! It shocks me still that the places we've traveled to have been around for a really long time. So many people have walked where we have. It humbles me. - Emily  I ordered a sweet tea on the plane to Germany and the old German woman handed me a hot tea, I was expecting Texas sweet tea. I tried to explain that I meant cold tea and she gave me a look of disgust and mumbled something in German, then left. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Munich Concert

Concert one I have to say it is a learning experience performing here in Germany. They have a different way of doing things. Stage set up as been an interesting process for Patrick, but as always he is handling it in a professional way. Before the concert started the fire marshalls showed to inspect the stage. They wanted to make sure we didn't have any chairs or stands on the fire line, which is a line on the stage that shows where a two ton curtain would drop if there was a fire. If it landed on you, it would crush you. Luckily we passed with no problems. They also inspected the backstage to make sure none of our cases were in the pathways. Another interesting thing is that musicians do not go on stage until the concert begins. You do not warm up on stage and go on as a group, including the concertmaster. Once in, you tune. Oh, but what was really funny, was while all eighty something of our kids were coming on stage, the audience continued to clap, until the very last one entered. About three minutes of it. There was a pause as the basses had not entered but when they did a roaring applause was had.  And so the maestro entered and the concert began. Starting with Dvorak, Carnival overture, the GDYO played superb. Fast and entertaining. At the end there were a few shouts. I would say they liked it. Then onto The Tenderland suite by Copland, the GDYO filled the hall with beautiful sounds of the American Midwest. For the last piece of the first half, they performed Xi Wang's Fall at the Barnard Cottage.  It is different but the audience seemed to like it. A little confusion about intermission, as they usually do not take one, but every one was gracious and we all seemed to figure what to do. Of course we had a little help from the maestro who stuck his head out from backstage and asked "do we not get an intermission?" a few laughs and of course all was good. More applause after intermission as each musician entered. I personally find it funny as the clapping almost becomes this uniform single clap. Now onto Pictures at an Exhibition. Many in the audience were excited as they said they don't get to hear it much. This is a hard piece and performing on little sleep and time changed can be challenging for any musician at any level. And guess what? GDYO pulled it off with some incredible moments. Encores included Candide overture, Nimrod and Capriccio Espanyol  The audience could not stop clapping, they called the back for more encores. On and on the applause went, we almost ran out of music. Wow what a great first concert for tour. A side note story: sitting two rows down from me were three children between the ages of 10-14 and there mother. She came over and asked me if I was with the youth orchestra and had a few questions. During the concert, the children sat on the edge of their seats, completely inthralled with the GDYO. Their attention span never once seemed to disappear and several times they would sit up even longer when they heard something they like. I have a few shots of the back of their heads in my photos and videos. After the concert I spoke with them. They were from Massachusetts in Germany visiting Grandparents and heard about the concert and wanted to come. They were also in a youth orchestra which would be going on tour next week to England, Scotland and Iceland. They played viola, cello and flute.  Pretty neat.  Tonya

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Day 3 Salzburg

Day 3 - Salzburg The day started early but all were refreshed. I took a couple of students for a morning run around a beautiful park and then breakfast at the hotel which was really nice - meats, fruits, breads, cereals, juices and more. Full bellies, we loaded the bus for Salzburg. A very beautiful two hour drive. We saw the Alps and a very pretty lake. Once we arrived, we went to the Mirabelle gardens. They were lovely and many students mentioned they could spend the afternoon just sitting and watching people. A local band was playing and it was fun to listen to German songs and wander around. We were once again divided into four groups and got a two-hour walking tour around the city. I think everyone had a great time and learned some new things. The Sound of Music abounds and everywhere you turn you think you might see Julie Andrews dressed as Maria coming around corner. And of course Mozart is everywhere. We did not get to tour his houses but did get to see them. After the tours we had two hours for sighting seeing, eating and shopping. Everyone had free time to do as they liked. It was not crowded as on Sundays most things are closed. So it was easy and very safe to wonder around and do what you liked.  And now we are back on the bus headed to Munich. It will be an early dinner and then a rehearsal.  Over all another great day.                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Day 2 - Munich

Day 2 - Munich We hit the ground running when we arrived in Munich. Only one bag was lost but is now back with the owner. We jumped on buses and headed straight for downtown. Our tour guides are Angie and Lothar, and are wonderful and have a great knowledge of history, facts and anything German. The buses are a little crowded and when the warm weather, a bit warm, but we managed to explain to the drivers, we're from Texas and we hate the heat. So it's getting better. Munich was very crowded because of the anniversary. People were everywhere and so at times it was hard to hear the guides. Oh, they split us into four groups and took us around the city. But it was hot and again very crowded and honestly we were all pretty tired. BUT - we plowed through and learned a few things about Munich and did our best to grab some lunch. And then quickly boarded the buses to check into the hotel. The Holiday Inn is very nice. They have large elevators! So no climbing the stairs. The rooms are spacious for European standards, all have air conditioning and private baths. So relaxing in the room is nice. But we didn't get to do that for long, it was off to rehearsal. The rehearsal space turned out to be very small, so we were cramped in but like all good musicians the GDYO members pushed through and had a decent rehearsal. Then it was back to the hotel and ready for dinner. We walked to a restaurant nearby and had it all to ourselves. Dinner was a salad with mushrooms and a choice of pork, spaghetti, noddles or schnitzel and for dessert Strawberries and cream or fruit. It was pretty good, but our young musicians were so tired many were all most falling asleep at the table! We got them back to bed and there was no arguments about lights out.
Day 1 A travel day It is never easy to travel with a large group of people because everyone travels differently. We all have our little things that we must do or have to make it a better trip. Communication can be difficult. You often cannot hear or the old trick by the time the messages gets to the back, it's become a mixed jumble of nonsense. But I have to say, that traveling with GDYO and these extremely mature young people is fun. Several times people stopped me in the airport to ask who and what we were and I always got at the end of the conversation, what a brave soul for going with them. But in all honesty, these kids are amazing and I don't feel brave but honored. I am truly amazed how well they do. At that age I was not near that close to the level of maturity, the ability to talk to strangers, to know what to do, where to go and have little fear. They are true ambassadors and I get to be with them for the next 15 days. But just to give you an idea of what all happens just to get on a plane -  The airlines do their best to make it as easy as possible on not just us, but themselves and other passengers traveling. They gathered us up and gave instructions and we lined up in our chaperone groups and I have to say we have some top notch chaperones. Each with their on flair and abilities. Once we get through ticketing, it's time for security and honestly, we made it through without one hitch. Everyone had all their stuff prepared and did exactly as told. We even made it through in enough time for people to grab some lunch.  We loaded the plane with as much ease as possible. It can be difficult trying to find spots for all those instruments and not disturb the other passengers but we did it and once on, the GDYO students took their seats and carried on normal levels conversations.  Now I know you are thinking how can this be so perfect. Well, it wasn't. We had to move around a few seats and the flight was full but overall, not bad. We landed in Philly with thirty mintues to spare and dashed off to the gate. All made it, with time for the bathroom and a quick snack if needed.  But here is where it got a little screwy and this was not the fault of the GDYO. A brilliant scheduler decided it would be a great idea to have four international flights board at the same time, so yes there was a little bit of confusion and we were a little bit in the way, but it all worked out and we got on the plane.  So as I type this, it is late in the evening, we just had a dinner of mystery meat and pasta and all are settling in to sleep or watch a little in-flight entertainment. It's a full flight. Every seat is taken and I am stuffed in the middle between two people I don't know, as a few of our kids are and guess what, we're all okay and handling it well. In a few hours we will be in Munich and more fun will begin. 

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Germany tour 2012

On the flight to Philadelphia, I passed around a notebook asking the kids to tell me in less then one sentence what they were feeling. Below are some of the responses. A bit of feat that I will die of fatigue after so much flying. Really tired and sleepy Excited to see all of the great cities Excited to get a wonderful night's sleep on the plane Ecstatic to play in such beautiful places I really hope I didn't forget anything from home! Can't believe this trip is finally happening Excited to try white asparagus and blood oranges in Munich Why is the plan so freaking small? Scared that I'm going to lose something in Europe and scared I'm going to fall asleep during rehearsal. Excited to get to Germany and a bit worried that I'll have to use the bathroom soon.  Still not quite believing that I'm actually on this trip and super excited!!! Worried about my instrument stacked and crammed into the compartment but feeling excited and super sleepy. Hoping that my instrument doesn't go completely out of tune, but otherwise very excited about going to Europe!  I'm ready to be in Germany already Relaxed and eager to play. I'm hoping the plane ride will be ok and not excruciatingly boring. I'm wondering if Aakash is going to sleep tonight since he's been asleep before we took off from Dallas! I am feeling like a contented sardine  I'm excited! Long plane rides are tough, but it will be worth it.  I feel as if I am seated next to the bathroom...oh wait. I feel excited, anxious, nervous, adventurous, happy, boisterous....but mostly sleepy.  I am thrilled to experience a foreign culture and use my talents there.  Watching Ina try to solve the Rubik's Cube is the best - this is in-flight entertainment at its finest. Looking forward to meeting new people and exploring new places! Really excited to be meeting Germans. I speak it! Tired and rady to get off the plane and eat some German food. It is very difficult to sleep on planes.  I'm worried about snoring so I can't sleep. I'm so happy to make music with GDYO. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Carneval Overture Op. 92

Carneval Overture Op. 92
Antonín Leopold Dvořák
Born 8 September 1841 in Nelahozeves, Bohemia, Austrian Empire
Died 1 May 1904 in Prague
Antonín Dvořák is best loved for his New World Symphony, Cello Concerto in B minor, and for his exquisite chamber music. Among his orchestral works is his popular and frequently played Carneval Overture.
Carneval is the center of a triptych of overtures composed on the themes of “Nature, Life, and Love.” In the summer of 1891, Dvořák dedicated Carneval to the University of Prague, which had conferred upon him an honorary doctorate of Philosophy in March of that year. Dvořák’s original intent was for the three works to be presented as a trilogy, but the pieces are rarely performed together. Prior to writing Carneval, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Cambridge University in England. This he added to a growing shelf of honors that reflected his fame throughout Europe. Dvořák conducted the overtures at their premiere in Prague on 20 April 1892. This concert was considered his farewell performance before he took the directorship of the new National Conservatory of Music in New York. While serving as director in New York, Dvořák composed his famous New World Symphony in 1893 and his Cello Concerto in 1894. These were his two prominent works of his American period.
The themes of his triptych, “Nature, Life, and Love,” were meant to portray the human soul’s experiences –joys and sorrows, peaks and valleys. Carneval is the most popular of the three works because of the overture’s energy and excitement. He composed the first piece, In Nature’s Realm, in March 1891. Carneval then followed, depicting life, and last Othello, representing love, was completed in January 1892. Each work has a recurring melody embedded in the scores that unify the three works.
Carneval bubbles with energy and exuberance. Like much of Dvořák's music, it abounds with dance rhythms and folk-music influences from his native Bohemia- the rich heartland now known as the Czech Republic. Carneval is filled with the elevated feelings of solitude as man finds himself, all at once, caught up in the high-spirited carousel of life. With its rapid tempos and explosive percussion, the opening section portrays a jubilant festival. The poetic charm of this piece is heightened when the solo violin repeats the melody. The slower Andantino section follows which features an English horn solo. The flutes later join in to represent, as Dvořák wrote, “a pair of straying lovers.” The festive motifs return and the overture ends with an exhilarating coda.
Dvořák stated in his own program note that the Carneval Overture was meant to depict:
… a lonely, contemplative wanderer reaching at twilight a city where a festival is in full swing. On every side is heard the clangor of instruments, mingled with shouts of joy and the unrestrained hilarity of the people giving vent to their feelings in songs and dances.
This work was written for piccolo, two flutes, two oboes, English horn, two clarinets, bassoon, three horns, two trombones, bass trombone, tuba, harp, timpani, cymbals, tambourine, triangle, and strings.
Allison Beck