Europe Comes Alive for Cascade Youth Symphony (Tour Notes, 2002)

“For those who had never traveled to Europe, they had witnessed firsthand treasures about which they had only heard – and Europe became a reality for the young musicians.”
This article was originally published in our 2002-2003 Tour Notes.
This summer the Cascade Youth Symphony from Seattle, with Director Gerry Jon Marsh, embarked for Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria. Many, if not most, of these young people had heard words such as Vienna, Prague, Schonbrunn Palace, Dresden, Danube. But it was not until this summer that these and other historic places were finally put into context and became a living reality, a treasured visual and experiential memory.
In Frankfurt, the group met ACFEA courier Sarka, truck driver Alan, and coach driver Udo, and the realization of being in a foreign country began since Udo spoke almost no English. But, no problem. Sarka promptly gave a German lesson and the first bits of communication began.
The first concert in charming Quedlinburg was highly successful in spite of some rain. Everyone pitched in to keep the instruments dry while transporting them into the church. Church officials were so impressed with the concert and the manners of the young people that they opened up the Treasury to display the historical treasures safeguarded there. One urn made of a single piece of alabaster is reported to be one in which water was turned to wine by Jesus.
The group visited Halle, performed in Leipzig and toured Dresden, witnessing the results of reconstruction since the war and the rebuilding of many national treasures. They were to see much more reconstruction during the tour, while in the Czech Republic and Austria.
July 4 was particularly moving. ACFEA arranged dinner in a wonderful restaurant in Frantiskovy Lazne, a Czech spa town, after which the orchestra performed in a gorgeous theater. The audience came from miles away, because German and Czech people remember that the allied troops, and especially Americans, liberated them at the end of the war. This was their way to show appreciation, especially on the anniversary of American independence. The day ended on the coach, singing America the Beautiful, the National Anthem, and other patriotic songs, while on the hillside a full fireworks display was seen from the coach window.
Vienna provided students another unparalleled opportunity to enjoy musical and artistic treasures. Many attended a Mass at one of the magnificent cathedrals and, of course, took time for a little shopping and negotiating the subway. Homestays in Krems, Austria, provided an excellent opportunity for bonding with another culture. The group’s hosts packed the church, giving a standing ovation with synchronized clapping, the highest form of appreciation. After the concert, everyone enjoyed food, music and dancing in the square. All were sad to end the experience and held hands in a circle, singing a farewell song. But there were more memories yet to come. The group departed for Salzburg to see more historical treasures. The farewell dinner in Munich was in Marionplatz in a restaurant beneath the ‘New’ Rathaus, which is where the famous Glockenspiel is housed.
Students returned home bonded with one another and with new foreign friends. For those who had never traveled to Europe, they had witnessed firsthand treasures about which they had only heard – and Europe became a reality for the young musicians.