Our orchestra abroad

Kamiak students take musical tour of Germany over Spring Break
By Katherine Slack and Lauren Koball | For the Beacon | May 03, 2017
Courtesy of: the Kamiak High School Symphony Orchestra Kamiak seniors Katherine Slack, left, and Lauren Koball pose for a photo together at the Berlin Wall during a tour of Germany over Spring Break. Slack and Koball were two of roughly 90 Kamiak orchestra students who took the trip. Slack plays the viola and Koball plays the violin.

As high school seniors whose international travel has only consisted of a few trips to Whistler, B.C. in Canada, the thought of traveling across the globe to Europe was completely thrilling.

After hours of fundraising and with the help of countless volunteers, our orchestra had the opportunity to travel on a performance tour in Germany over Spring Break earlier this month.

We spent our first two days in the gorgeous city of Berlin, where we visited the Holocaust memorial, Checkpoint Charlie, and of course, the Berlin Wall. It felt incredibly meaningful to be able to stand next to, and even touch, such a significant piece of history. Although this was an orchestra tour on which we shared our music with many people, we also got the cultural immersion of a lifetime.

For our first performance, we all piled into the coaches – instruments in tow – and went to Brandenburg to play music at a local church. Going into our first performance, we were all a little unsure of how it would turn out. What if no one came? How would they receive our music?

But, of course, Kamiak Orchestra knocked it out of the park. Several people in the audience even came up to some of us after the performance to thank us for being there, and we felt an overwhelming sense of relief and pride at the audience’s positive reaction.

Our next destination was Leipzig, where we spent the remainder of our trip. I’m sure most of our group had never heard of this city before, but all it took was five days to know we’d never forget it.

In Leipzig, we spent most our time in the town center, packed with markets, bakeries and shops to explore. We also attended a meet-and-greet with a local music school’s youth orchestra. Most of us took advantage of this unique opportunity and really got to know what the teenagers in Germany are like.

Two lovely girls we met in the orchestra were Hannah and Lane, pronounced Lana. We all exchanged numbers, and some of us have still been talking with them, sharing our interests and getting to know them better. They told us we were surprisingly open and friendly, and that they enjoyed how outgoing we all were.

We listened to their top orchestra, which included students ranging in age from 12 to 24. These young musicians were absolutely outstanding, and they blew us away with their pure passion for music and their fine-tuned performance skills.

Our final performance took place in a quaint, historic town called Pegau, about 40 minutes from Leipzig, where we played for school children of all ages. The pieces we played were exciting, engaging, and were well enjoyed by everyone.

Our musical learning did not end there, however. We had the opportunity to be guided by the Music School of Leipzig Johann Sebastian Bach youth orchestra’s director, as well. He’s the director of a top orchestra in Germany, so his guidance was extremely valuable and helped us gain new perspectives on how to practice, rehearse and perform.

On the final night of the trip, we attended a Gewandhaus symphony orchestra concert in the St. Thomas Church back in Leipzig. The sound resonated throughout the building and rang clear over every pew – a phenomenal close to a remarkable trip.

This tour was a milestone trip for each individual, as well as our orchestra as a whole. Not many high schoolers get the chance to travel to another country, learn about new cultures and meet new people of all ages and backgrounds. Both the musical and cultural aspects of the trip were truly irreplaceable.

The most important lesson we learned – aside from the extraordinary music tips – was that no school can give you the cultural and social knowledge that the experience of traveling to another country can.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.