Tag Archives: ColoradoState

Through the Lens of Art

Today was a day off for Fortress Brass, so our host, Irina, sent a driver to take us to some of the sights in St. Petersburg that are not within walking distance. Before we left, though, we walked to see the Kazansky Cathedral. This massive Russian Orthodox church was built in the early 1800s to celebrate the Russian victory over Napolean. I wish I could show you how stunningly beautiful the inside is, but they don’t allow pictures. (Note the massive scale and beauty of the outside!) Marble and granite of all colors, gold and silver decor and paintings more numerous than you could imagine. And it’s also a functioning church. We happened to be there during a service and the chanting in Russian was sublime. It’s very easy to see how one could find solace in such a serene setting. And when we walked out, just down the street we could see another glorious church, the Church on Spilled Blood. If you don’t know anything about that one, look it up! The history is interesting and the artistic quality of it’s architecture is gorgeous!

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Next, we went to the Piskaryovkoye Memorial Cemetary where almost half a million Russian civilians and soldiers are buried in mass graves. These people died of starvation and the extreme cold during the German blockade of St. Petersburg during WWII. I’ve had the opportunity to go to many WWII sites around Europe and it’s never easy. I always have such reverence and appreciation for what occurred. The beaches of Normandy, Dachau concentration camp, and now this, among many others. You feel the residual weight of history. It’s overwhelming on a deeply emotional level, reducing you to tears. It really makes you realize just how important what we do is, how much more we have in common when seen through the lens of the arts…

In past years, we went to the Artist’s Cemetery on the outskirts on St. Petersburg. Here we had the opportunity to visit the grave sites of some of the most significant figures in the history of Russian music. Tchaikovsky, Mussorgsky, Borodin, Cui, Rubinstein, Glinka, and more. And in order to get to their graves, we had to pass that of Tolstoy. One could stay there all day paying homage.

~ John McGuire
Assistant Professor of Horn


A student’s look back…look ahead.

On the train ride from Salzburg, Austria to Sopron, Hungary, I sat down with one of the CSU Faculty Chamber Winds’ oboists, CSU alumni Shane Werts (’13, Music Ed), to talk about the past year, the tour, and his future as a musician.

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Shane Werts performs with the ensemble at the MidEurope Music Festival.

Shane spent the 2013-14 school year teaching band and choir at Gypsum Creek Middle School in Eagle County, Colo., and really enjoyed the experience. “I grew a lot last year – being in front of 40 kids everyday pushed my maturity and leadership. Even teaching middle school concepts, my musicianship increased through demonstrations on my instrument, and daily practice after school.”

During his time in Gypsum, Shane knew that he wanted to continue his studies, this time in oboe performance. In Jan. and Feb. of 2014, he auditioned at Cleveland Institute of Music, University of Cincinnati – College-Conservatory of Music, Eastman School of Music, Indiana University, and University of Iowa.

During our conversation, Shane reflected on the audition process, noting that some schools had a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere, while others were much more intense. “A few schools had ‘stress free’ zones with coloring books and conversation between those auditioning, while others required complete silence.”

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The ensemble performing the festival’s opening concert.

Shane challenged himself to keep nerves in check, especially the weekend he had three auditions – Rochester, Cincinnati, and Cleveland – in a row.

It is apparent that this delightful and unassuming CSU grad kept it together as incredibly, he was accepted to all five schools, ultimately selecting Indiana for his Master’s in Oboe Performance. “In the end, after considering the teachers and financials, the feel of the audition experience really influenced my decision.”

Prior to the CSU Faculty Chamber Winds’ tour, Shane had not been out of the country and jumped at the chance to play. “The trip has been awesome! Everyone on this tour are people I look up to, and I had really enjoyed playing with the ensemble on the Mozart and Rossini pieces during my senior year.” “It’s an honor to be here,” he added.

Additionally, Shane recognized that master’s students are expected to be productive during the summer. “Everyone seems to be at summer festivals, and I’m playing on a tour in Europe, it’s important.”

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Starting with his decision to major in Music Ed, people associated with CSU were an important influence. “In high school, I didn’t have a clue, I was pretty lost, but I really respected my first private teacher and my high school teacher. Erik Johnson (now Assistant Professor of Music Education at CSU) was always so happy and that inspired me. John Hermanson (CSU ’08, Master of Music, Conducting/Music Education) really helped me figure out where to go.”

Lessons prompted by experiences at Colorado State University are prominent in Shane’s story. “At CSU, I learned that it is important to be a humble person because everyone starts somewhere. I never made an all-state band or orchestra in high school, and seeing [fellow student] Tony Fredrico accepted to the navy band was motivating because Tony didn’t even start playing until high school. I also remember being at the national double reed convention and saying to Dr. Moody (professor of double reeds and theory), ‘Those people all play better than me, but I can do better than that.’ It became an indicator of what to strive for.”

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The CSU Faculty Chamber Winds delight crowds at Mirabell Garden in Salzburg.

Looking ahead to life at Indiana University, Shane expects a big department to be very different. “I’ve heard it is competitive, although the oboe teacher fosters a friendly studio environment.”

After talking to Shane, I have no doubt that this CSU grad will succeed, even flourish, at the graduate level. He mentioned that through multiple summer jobs, he’s always paid for his own instruments and equipment. This past summer he bought a car, a gouger (the most expensive oboe tool which thins tube cane, the first step in making reeds), and saved enough rent for the entire next year.

“I’ve enjoyed working with Shane,” chimed in Gary Moody, who had been quietly listening to our conversation. “He was one of those students who came in every week sounding better, which you can’t always say about every student.”

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Shane as saxophone section leader in the CSU Marching Band.

Shane’s reaction to his CSU experience is very positive. “I learned how to teach, became proficient on my instrument, had many performance opportunities, and was tenor saxophone section leader in Marching Band. And at CSU, Dr. Moody is where it is at,” Shane enthused about his teacher.

“CSU is a great place to start and grow, and it is getting even better. I would go there again for sure…if I had to do it again, I would choose CSU, hands down!”

Best wishes Shane!

~ posted by Jennifer Clary

Two tales of one city.

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On Thursday, July 17, the ensemble performed their final concert of the tour as part of the Staromestský Letný Festival, in the city of Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia. The festival, in the Zichy Palace courtyard, and other venues around the quaint and popular Old Town, featured artists from Slovakia and abroad.

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The ensemble’s time in Bratislava, a city of half a million on the Danube river, was brief, with only a couple hours for sightseeing before dinner and the concert, but we certainly enjoyed what we saw in the Old Town district.

As the final concert of the tour, this night was especially poignant. Each piece in the repertoire has been embedded in the minds and hearts of the ensemble members, and this blogger could feel the collective absorption of each phrase, as if the performance was as much for the players as the audience.

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By the River by Aaron Copeland

Shall we gather by the river,
Where bright angels’ feet have trod,
With its crystal tide forever
Flowing by the throne of God.
Yes, we’ll gather by the river,
The beautiful, the beautiful river.

Gather with the saints by the river
That flows by the throne of God.
Soon we’ll reach the shining river,
Soon our pilgrimage will cease,
Soon our happy hearts will quiver
With the melody of peace.

As baritone John Seesholtz tenderly, yet powerfully, sang the final stanza of “By the River,” our summer pilgrimage felt complete, our own melody of peace proclaimed by exploring of the core and edges of both our music and Europe. How fitting to play here, on the Danube river.

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Following the concert, another impacting moment occurred at the Camel Pub, one of dozens of packed Old Town bistros. The group will forever remember our waiter, Tomas (pronounced Tomash), the punk-band lead singer from Galánta, Slovakia.

Finding out that we were classical musicians, he asked if we knew of Zoltan Kodály, to which Copper Ferreira exclaimed that Dances of Galánta was well-known by the ensemble.

Tomas was truly exuberant, taking out his phone to show us the view from his bedroom window in his home town, Galánta, of Kodály’s disrepaired castle. “I am touched that you are here and know of Kodály, and my home,” our endearing waiter enthused. Since the Kodály method is an intricate component of Colorado State University’s elementary Music Ed Program, the special moment was not lost on us.

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Tomas travels about 35 miles into Bratislava to wait tables, but is not as enthusiastic about the city as we were from our limited exposure. “You’ve only seen the part they want you, the tourists, to see,” he stated. “It’s not always a nice place.”

This seemed in direct conflict with the opinion of this blogger’s friend, who lives in Vienna and often spends long weekends in Bratislava, his “favorite place, next to Vienna.” “It’s such an up-and-coming city, so chill – it’s wonderful to just hang out in the park by the river,” my friend had told me.

As the bistro was closing for the evening, Tomas delivered some take-away wisdom as he claimed, “Americans live to work, Slovokians work to live…” I think it’s safe to say that we’d all live for the chance to come back to Bratislava and find out more about this slightly exotic city for ourselves. Thanks, Tomas!

Click here to see more photos of the concert and Bratislava.

~ posted by Jennifer Clary

The town of loyalty and freedom.

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Roman ruins, Sopron, Hungary.

Originally a trade route town on the Roman Amber Road, Sopron is a small town of significance near the Austrian border, featuring a center square with medieval and Gothic architecture, interwoven with 1st and 2nd Century Roman roads and ruins.

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Monument honoring Jewish citizens, captured and taken to Auschwitz in 1944.

After the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, instead of joining Austria, in 1921 Sopron voted to remain part of Hungary and is thus referred to as Hungary’s ‘most faithful city.’ During WWII, Sopron lost all its Jewish citizens, was bombed, and, in 1945, was captured by the Red Army; during the Cold War, Socialists attempted to industrialize the city. In 1989 the Pan-European Picnic, a demonstration which led to the fall of the Iron Curtain and German reunification, took place near Sopron.

With the surviving medieval architecture and Roman ruins, its productive vineyards and excellent red wine, Kékfrankos, the area is now benefiting from tourism. On a different note, because of the numerous, low-cost dental clinics, Hungary, including Sopron, is also a dental-care destination.

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Sopron’s elegant architecture – with its ornate reliefs, projecting cornices, and colorful facades – once reveling in grandeur and prominence, are now worn and threadbare, interspersed with unflattering cement memories. Its stateliness is saturated with heartbreak, tragedy, and suppression. Are pockets of construction the sights and sounds of hope, or will tolling bells continue to reverberate the heavy spirit of oppression and sorrow?

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This blogger was captured by the beauty of the Alps, the charm of Salzburg, and the magnificence of Vienna, yet Sopron shoves everything it has endured right in your face, a “take-away” level reminder that travel through Europe is not always about accessibly enjoyable palaces, beer gardens, and Alpine lodges. My world view and knowledge was broadened by our mere 17 hours here.

Click here to see more photos of Sopron.

~ posted by Jennifer Clary

 

Music throughout time.

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Goat Church, Sopron, Hungary.

We spent our last 24 hours in Sopron, Hungary. It is a fascinating city that has felt the most “foreign” of all our recent stops. The city center consists variously of 9th-century Roman ruins, 11th-century medieval walls, and 17th-century Baroque towers and cathedrals. Our first experience in a former Soviet bloc country, we all felt the long shadow cast by the distantly-fallen Iron Curtain. We walked a bit over a mile from our hotel to our performance venue, and along the way I felt a strange sense of familiarity to the rough edges of the city. I came to realize that this industrial city has the look and feel of the Rust Belt cities in the US where I have lived and worked: Detroit, Mich.; Rochester, NY; Cleveland, Ohio; and Milwaukee, Wisc.; among many others.

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CSU Faculty Chamber Winds at the Ligneum Sopron.

Our performance was at a gorgeous new building surrounded by a deciduous forest at the Lingeum Sopron. The glass-walled structure had an airy, open feel, and was filled with the results of engineering projects from the University of Western Hungary. We performed for a warm audience in an intimate space on the second floor amidst motorbikes, modern couches, wooden toys, and models of energy-saving homes. A truly unique venue, we all concurred. Post-concert, our gracious hosts feted us with traditional Hungarian fare in a classic setting amidst the woods and buildings of the research facility.

One of my contributions to this tour has been my orchestration of Aaron Copland’s “Old American Songs” to feature our baritone, Dr. John Seesholtz. Originally for voice and piano, I found great pleasure in seeking a “Coplandesque” shimmer from our unusual combination of woodwinds and brass.

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Baritone, John Seesholtz.

Although I had the sounds and instrument combinations in my head, it has been a thrill to hear the songs come to life in every venue since a clarinet note here or a brass pairing there appear in different lights depending on the physical space. The compact concert location in Sopron illuminated the brass for me in particular since I was placed directly behind the three horns as opposed to behind the bassoons as I usually am. From that new vantage point, I reveled most in Copland’s brilliant re-harmonization of the old hymn tune “At the River.” I set the introduction and the first verse for three horns, trombone, and solo trumpet, and for the first time since we began playing these songs I felt “inside” Copland’s harmony and my own creation. Combined with John’s lush baritone and (per his request), the darker key of D-flat major, the experience raised every hair on the back of my neck.

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Christopher Van Hof performing at Mirabell Garden, Salzburg, Austria.

That has been the wonder of this journey for me: once the trains, languages, short nights, quick meals, and all other facets of international travel are set to the side, the opportunity for me to participate–however obliquely–in the ongoing unfolding of music throughout time proves to consistently inspire. It is why I studied music and why I find such deep satisfaction performing and writing, especially with my friends and colleagues.

Click here to see more photos from Sopron.

~ contributed by Chris Van Hof, DMA, Assistant Professor of Trombone and Euphonium

Aufessen!

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Pork knuckle, potato salad, sauerkraut, and mustard meal at the Augustiner, Salzburg.

We all travel for the food, right! Socially, economically, creatively, food is at the heart of any culture, and the group has completely embraced the experience.

‘Breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ is a true adage here, and with all the walking, due diligence is required. There is a consistent breakfast buffet menu across Europe of bread, yogurt, sliced meet and cheese, boiled eggs, pots of apricot, blackberry, and strawberry jam, Nutella, an oatmeal bar with figs, prunes, and dried apricots, and most different for Americans, fresh veggies: peppers, tomatoes, olives, and cucumbers.

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Our bed and breakfast style accommodations in Schladming, Austria were certainly the most special, with our gracious inn-keeper bringing soft-boiled eggs and pots of strong coffee directly to our tables.

Lunch has usually been taken at markets, from street vendors, or by popping into the grocery store. Dinners, usually eaten late, and by carful selection, are a time to sit as a group and reflect on our performances and adventures.

While on the train to Bratislava this morning, the travel reflection was on food.

Richard Frey – I like that things are less salty and less sweet here. I’ve eaten enough unknown, sliced, ground, knuckled, and hooved pig for a while. None of us realized how many different “snausages” there actually are!

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Sausage counter at Dallmayr Delicatessen, Munich, Germany.

Michelle Stanley – I’d give anything for a huge kale salad, and Richard said he’d give me his too. Although I’m tired of pork product, I have enjoyed trying all the new bratwurst. I’m also happy that the beer is not hoppy. One of my favorite things was the breakfast in Schladming with the special grinder for steel-cut oats. It was a total novelty, and I really want one for my home.

John Seesholtz – I loved the street food…all the sausages and cheeses, and the diversity within the genres, especially the offerings in the farmers market. There were the red currant berries that we don’t have in white, bright and dark red. I’ve enjoyed trying something so regional and seasonal.

Andrew Jacobson – I really enjoy the drinkability of the beer and since water is so expensive, it is a great replacement because of the high quality and low alcohol content. I could continue eating like this forever, so it is probably good that we are leaving in a few days. All of the walking helps counterbalance the increased intake of ice cream and helps digest the extra carbs from the bread and potatoes.

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Chris Van Hof doesn’t want to eat here – Bratislava, Slovakia.

Chris Van Hof (vegan) – I haven’t eaten a lot of the local food, which is all meat and cream, and doesn’t look appetizing or appealing. What I’ve noticed is that when I find a place where I can get a big, full, hot meal, it feels more special than at home. I’ve had a lot of fruit and brought cliff bars from home, so I’ve managed. What I’ve found humorous is that in restaurants, fish is the standard vegetarian option.

Wesley Ferreira – I’ve had great food and the best was from the street vendor in Schladming during the Lange Nacht – the long roll with two wieners, mustard, and onions – it was the most authentic meal. I’m a bread connoiseur, and it was warm and soft inside and perfectly flaky outside. It was the best! I also enjoyed the breakfast in Schladming with the soft boiled egg; the service was so civilized with the egg cup and the little spoon. I always felt like the inn-keeper was thinking “you are a good man for eating this egg!” It became a thing between us each morning, and for me, a take-away.

Copper Ferreira – If the “way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” then in Hungary I would never have found a husband, and would be single forever! But the rest has been good. I have used so many fine dishes, and there are more sizes of spoons than I’ve ever seen: Cappuccino spoons, egg spoons, yogurt spoons, slotted spoons – such a huge array of utensils. It’s like using my grandmother’s china every day!

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A good place to stop.

Gary Moody – Beer, bread, brats, and too much of it. I’ve enjoyed the adventure where you have no idea what you’re getting – some regrettable and some absolutely delightful! It’s sad when you find something you like and then have to leave it. Restaurants might be touristy, so I like going to the grocery store and seeing what the locals buy, and their habits, and pick from their unidentifiable items. I usually ate at groceries for lunch, or found an inviting place while riding my bike.

Steve Marx – I was a good chance to explore the delicacies. There are many different bratwurst from German, to Austrian, to Hungarian, comparable to regional BBQ in U.S. They do fat, protein, and salt very well! Sometimes you don’t know what you’re eating – that is a positive thing – so don’t bring any expectations because that is detrimental to the experience. I love the open-air markets, especially all the cheeses, but the first place I’m going is when I get back is 5 Guys!

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Jenn Clary Jacobs – Since veggies are my favorite food, I get my fill at breakfast because they become scarce the rest of the day. I’m also a gluten free girl, so with the emphasis on baked goods, from pretzels to pastry, amazing smelling thin-crust pizza, and breaded items such as Schnitzel, this trip has been a challenge. I quickly gave up asking for gluten free because the reference was lost on everyone! So far, my favorite meals were the roasted liver and potatoes in Schladming, and the aged salami and salty aged Gouda from the outdoor market in Salzburg. And the coffee…

Tom Bittinger – I especially liked the availability of ice cream or gelato on every corner. I haven’t had a bad meal and liked all of it!

Selena Adams – I love all of it! My favorite thing is the prevalence of local bakeries, shops, cheese, and soup. Everything is super fresh, made by that family, that day, and affordable. I love that about Europe! I also love the coffee and the way drinking it is an afternoon event, like British teatime. My favorite thing was the Kasewurst – cheese sausage with the cheese melting out of it. So good!

Travis Howell – There is a variety of expense levels from something quick at a stand, like a brat, or very nice – as nice as you want – in every city. Overall, it’s been great. I also appreciate the lunch beer culture.

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Sierra Hayden enjoys the apple strudel with vanilla sauce.

Robert Bonner – The food culture is a lot slower here. Everyone takes more time socially. Whereas Americans seem to eat and run, here they actually relax during meals. They also take their desserts seriously! I even had apple strudel, with vanilla sauce, at a stone restaurant on Dachstein glacier (accessible by foot). For all that, I can’t wait to have an IPA and a bacon cheeseburger!

Shane Werts – Portions are smaller, but heartier. I loved the red wine cake at the restaurant at the top of Planai Mountain, only accessible on the Gondola. There’s a lot of meat here, which makes me really want some crispy lettuce! The apricot and blackberry jam were amazing! I will miss the schnitzel.

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Sierra Hayden – The food is heartier than in Colorado, but I never felt tired – maybe it was all the walking. The fruit is riper and so delicious. The water situation is hard because it isn’t free with meals, and so much of the water you order is sparkling, not “still.” The unpasteurized cheese is so great, but I can’t wait to have a huge salad!

Eat up, all!

From here to there.

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Our travels have taken the ensemble by plane, from Denver to Iceland to Munich, around Europe by train, both within the cities and between, put a lot of miles on our walking shoes, and even provided some train station practice time.

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Getting the group of 18 from point A to point B, via public transportation, has been a remarkably successful experience with just a few close mishaps like Shane sleeping on the second level and nearly not getting off, barely getting the luggage on and off before hearing the whistle blow, and a couple of frantic scurries back on to grab forgotten bags and phones, but all has ended well. Since we are traveling to Sopron, Hungary today, everyone gave quick reflections about the travel aspect of this tour.

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Wesley Ferriera – When I think about going on a tour, I think about the traveling part. It’s been easy, nice to have those quiet moments, watching people read, and reflect, and look out the window.

Copper Ferriera – Trains are the way to go! Travel by train is the best and easiest way to go…as long as you have wheels on your luggage and guys to help lift it!

Robert Bonner – It’s my first time being on a train and it’s much less of a headache than getting on an airplane. I wish I could take a train across the U.S. to N.Y., like you can do from Munich to Berlin.

Michelle Stanley – Pack smart and face forward [as opposed to the backwards seats]. Traveling with 18 people is not as bad as you think!

Steve Marx – It’s been great to see the regional aspects of moving between countries on different trains. Even what is offered in the restaurant cars changes every few hundred miles.

Shane Werts – It’s been a great way to get to know people better. I’ve enjoyed getting to know the professors on a more personal level…everything from knick names to the ins and outs of sunglasses.

Tom Bittinger – I love the train system. Very efficient!

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Travis Howell (pictured) – The hours between cities are nice because you have a chance to relax, get off your feet, and reflect on all the great things we’ve been doing. I like the moment where you’re finally not rushed and just have time to think.

John Seesholtz – Travel has been fun, and for 18 people, we’ve been doing well staying together. It also provides time to separate, to sit, and be quiet. Tours can be social overload and the travel portion is my alone time.

Jenn Clary – I love watching the scenery go by and taking it all in. The train is very relaxing and soothing; it feels like a rocking cradle. There are very few escalators or elevators, so be prepared to lug a 20 kg suitcase up and down an immense number of stairs – Michelle and I are getting some biceps!

John McGuire – Transportation in Europe is very liberating because you don’t need a car. You don’t have to be responsible for a vehicle, you just get on a train and forget about everything for a while.

Liz McGuire – I appreciate walking more. I’ve enjoyed living in larger cities where it is easy to get around. I travel to Cheyenne for work and wish I could commute on a train. It’s what I miss!

Gary Moody – I love the fact that we left the hotel at 8:15 a.m. to catch a 9 a.m. train (walking). You don’t have to go through security and it left exactly on time. It’s easy when you can count on it happening, and not getting delayed!

Chris Van Hof – I like seeing the dirty underbelly of the famous classical music cities. When I’m traveling around, I’m anxious to arrive in time to Skype with my family and to practice. That’s what is always on my mind.

Sierra Hayden – The trains are efficient, but traveling in a group isn’t always so. I really enjoy having time to read, catch up on emails, and enjoy the views!

Richard Frey – there should be high-speed rail lines everywhere in the U.S. Being here always reminds me how strongly I feel about this! I would jump down to the Springs or up to Cheyenne if it simply meant hoping on and going.

Selena Adams – I love trains and enjoy seeing the different kinds. Riding the city bus in Salzburg was an easy navigation experience. I wish there was a train from Cheyenne to Colorado Springs!

Andrew Jacobson– For me, the train is a time to catch up on my sleep and relaxation.

~ posted by Jennifer Clary

In the footsteps of Mozart

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Today we played two outdoor concerts here in Salzburg, one in a picturesque garden once used in the Sound Of Music, the other in a park outside of the Mozarteum.

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As we walked from one concert to the next, winding our way through idyllic city parks and streets, literally hundreds of years old, it was hard to not realize that we were walking in the footsteps of Mozart. After our second concert, our group posed for a picture in front of Mozart’s Geburtshaus.

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As a musician, it seems like a rite of passage to trek halfway across the globe and pay our respects to arguably the greatest composer to ever live. Before there was ever Beethoven, Brahms, or Mahler, there was Mozart. In the world of French Horn players, Mozart is held in particularly high esteem. Our entire solo repertoire begins and ends with Mozart. And while his works for the horn are wonderful pieces, they aren’t even his best works as he is known far more for his operas, symphonies, and piano concerti.

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Why, after more than 220 years since his death, is he still so revered? For me, it is simply because Mozart’s music is the quintessential definition of refinement in an art form of unparalleled beauty and grace. More so than any composer before or since (at least in my humble opinion), Mozart clearly defines not just an entire age, but an entire genre. His music requires the utmost skill, grace, and purity of tone.

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I believe that to this end, we were able to honor him here in Salzburg with our renditions of his music. And as we stood in front of his Geburtshaus afterward, realizing that we were standing in literally the same place Mozart had once stood, I had a tear in my eye, but also a smile on my face. Thank you, Wolfgang. I wonder if you ever realized in your lifetime just how much your music would touch people on a deep emotional level so many years later.

~ contributed by Dr. John McGuire, Assistant Professor of Horn, Colorado State University

Click here to view more pictures.

~ Happy Birthday John – we’re all so thrilled that you had this experience on your special day!

Mozart is here.

The ensemble is thoroughly delighted by Salzburg and it’s rich arts culture and history. The fourth largest city in Austria boasts over 4,000 music, theatre, dance, and art events and exhibitions each year, including the famous Salzburg Music Festival.

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For any group of musicians and music professors, a pilgrimage to the city’s Mozart landmarks is essential and emotional. Significant destinations for the group included the Geburtshaus (birth house), the Wohnhaus (a later residence), St. Sebastian’s cemetery, the burial site of Mozart’s father Leopold and wife Constanze, and Mozartplatz, featuring the composer’s statue, unveiled in 1842. “Michl march, Mozart is here,” was enthusiastically proclaimed at the time!

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“I have goosebumps,” “It brings tears to my eyes,” and “I’m incredibly grateful to be here,” were all overheard by this blogger; I had my own special moment with the opening to the Requiem Mass running through my head as I meandered through the historic cobbled streets of the Altstadt (Old Town).

This incredible and picturesque city has much to offer, and much more for us to discover!

Click here to view more pictures.

~ posted by Jennifer Clary

Danke Schön MidEurope and Schladming

We thoroughly enjoyed our time in the Austrian Alps, were honored to perform many times throughout the festival, and met so many wonderful people.

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On Thursday, July 10, the ensemble performed an early evening, outdoor concert in the same location, where earlier in the week, we had watched Germany demolish Brazil 7 – 1 in the World Cup. Best moments from that performance had to have been the reprise of Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes” with Chris Van Hof’s kazoo solo, little kids dancing with abandon alongside adults who really knew what they were doing, and noticing that we had some true fans who were showing up at all of our concerts.

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We especially enjoyed meeting the delightful Mats Persson, a trombonist and high school music teacher from Sweden, who was attending the festival on his personal holiday. In addition to our concerts, we saw Mats at the top of Dachstein Glacier, at Lange Nacht, the “long night” street festival featuring the traditional, regional bands, and at the Tattoo, a display of all the marching bands. Connections like these greatly enhance the travel experience, and were possible through staying in one location for an extended time.

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On Saturday, July 11, the sun was doing its best to break through the clouds that have socked us in the last few days. The group performed their final MidEurope Music Festival concert at a delightful open air location on Schladming’s main pedestrian plaza.

Click here to see photos of the concert.

Having now heard the ensemble perform four times, with each program varying slightly depending on the time of day and venue, this blogger is really enjoying watching the increased interaction between ensemble members as they hand off a melodic line, gently play beneath the solos, and obviously appreciate the special musical moments their colleagues are creating.

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Off time in Schladming was a non-stop adventure. As part of our lodging package, we received “Summer Cards,” an inclusive pass for all of the region’s activities, including the Planai gondola, the Dachstein Glacier, the gravity propelled go karts that reach speeds of over 40 mph, and bus access all around. The group relished hikes, mountain bike rides, and taking in the fresh mountain air, so much so, Wesley Ferreira was heard yelling “Schlaaaadmiiiiing,” while running with arms stretched wide down the base of the glacier!

We cannot say enough about the opportunity to be in one incredible location for so many days, a special chance to drill deeper into the culture, history, food, and recreational offerings of an area. Thank you MidEurope Music Festival, and the Alpine town of Schladmubg, Austria for an incredible experience – we all hope to journey back someday!

~ posted by Jennifer Clary