Tag Archives: Hungary

The town of loyalty and freedom.


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.

Monument honoring Jewish citizens, placed in Ghettos and then taken to Auschwitz in 1944.

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

“Ebben az utcàban 1944 majusban es juniusban a zsidok elkulonitese gettó letesitettek. Az auschwitz-birkenauba hurcolt aldozatok emlekere allitotta sopron onkormanyzata. 1996-BAN”

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.

Plaza in Hungary

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?

beautiful door in Hungary

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.

Goat Church, Sopron, Hungary.

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.

CSU Faculty Chamber Winds at the Ligneum Sopron.

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.

Baritone, John Seesholtz.

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.

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

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

From here to there.


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.


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.

CSU Faculty Chamber Winds' 2014 tour photo


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!


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 hotspot

Access to Wi-fi in the Alps occurs on a day-to-day basis! We were without it for two days in the hotel, and I’ve seen members of our group, and other tourists, walking around with their phones held high like lighters at an eighties rock show, trying to locate a connection. As I write this, I’m sitting in this chair, in the Planai gondola station, which thankfully offers free Wi-fi. However, the signal is not strong, and shifting one inch drops the connection which isn’t so conducive for uploading a batch of photos, posting a blog, or for that matter, considering the construction of my perch, circulation!

wooden chairs pieced together with wood the size of rulers

The truly fantastic part is that the local residents don’t seem concerned about the lack of connectivity. Although it inhibits the kind of productivity I’m concerned about at the moment, it is probably a fantastic “problem” for vacationers…a simple reminder to put down the device and go enjoy the unfathomable beauty and adventures to be had.

~ posted by Jennifer Clary