When the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra sat down to plan its 2012 tour, one of the things the group was considering was participation in a festival. As we considered what would be the best one to include, the Summa Cum Laude International Youth Music Festival, held every year in Vienna, shot right to the top of the list. Spread over four days, it brings together young people from all around the globe to perform in one of Europe’s musical capitals. The festivities begin with an opening ceremony in the Stephansdom. Three days of performances in and around Vienna follow, including a workshop at the University of Music and an optional competition with multiple group categories.
In the spring of 2010, I got a call from one of my favorite people, Beth Antonio, Tour Coordinator of the Empire State Youth Orchestra in Albany, New York. Beth and I had worked on ESYO’s 2008 tour of Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria, and I was excited to help design its next tour. I expected her to say the orchestra had decided on Italy or, maybe, France. She really threw me for a loop when she said: “We’ve decided on China and South Korea; have you ever done an orchestra tour to South Korea?” The answer was a nervous, “Well, no!” That didn’t seem to be a problem. The group had been invited by the Korea Institute for Advanced Theological Studies (KIATS) to perform in conjunction with the 2012 World Expo in Yeosu, on the southern coast. Helen Cha-Pyo, the group’s artistic director, a Korean-born American, introduced the idea. The group and the board responded so enthusiastically that the wheels were put in motion and we started planning the tour: six nights in China, six nights in South Korea.
I’m writing this post from Seoul to officially broadcast that South Korea is fantastic! We’ve just come to the end of ACFEA’s first tour to Korea in over three decades, and I can safely say it was a home run.
The Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra has been invited to participate in the 2012 Summa Cum Laude International Youth Music Festival in Vienna, Austria.