Highlights from the 2009 Sound of America Concert Tour of Europe!
See the News article about the St Germain-en-Laye concert.
The 2009 Sound of America Tour once again began on the beautiful and friendly campus of Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. Our new choir director, Dr. Nancy Klein, from Old Dominion University in Virginia, proved to be an amazing conductor! Students from 38 states, as far away as Alaska, worked hard to present quality Bon Voyage concerts. Several alumni returned from previous SOA tours to travel again with SOA. Many alumni attended the concerts! SOA performers were presented two large flags from American Legion Post #223 to raise over the graves of their fallen brethren in the American Military Cemetery in Luxembourg on the upcoming tour.
CONCERTS: The Europeans were very generous with their applause and appreciation for our musical performances. Several European newspapers published articles about our concerts (links to come soon!). Although it is typical for many alumni to attend the Bon Voyage concerts in Pennsylvania, this year we had several alumni from as long ago as 1977,1988,1990,1999, and as recently as 2007 and 2008 attend our performances in Europe. It is always wonderful to welcome former students come support the new group, as they reminisce about their own tour and offer well-wishes for the current group.
SPECIAL PERFORMANCES: Choral performances in St. Mark's Basilica in Venice and Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris proved to again be very special. Very enthusiastic crowds greeted the group in Cortina and Stresa, Italy; La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland; Luxembourg City, Luxembourg; and a new concert venue, St. Germain-en-Laye, just outside of Paris. The folks in this quaint suburb welcomed us with open arms and great enthusiasm! As with some of the other concerts, the local mayor was present, and even representatives from the U.S. Embassy.
The final performance was held at the American World War II Cemetery in Luxembourg, where our group not only sang and played taps, but retired and raised American flags, presented flowers on General Patton's grave, and was greeted and presented numerous gifts from the Friends of American War Veterans Association in Luxembourg. It was truly an unforgettable moment in time! Students whose close relatives were in the Battle of the Bulge were also offered gifts. The Luxembourgers who came to our ceremony wanted to make sure that we understood that they have never forgotten what the Americans did for them.
MUSICAL LITERATURE: Choral musical highlights included Kirby Shaw's "Tico Tico", Ysaye Barnwell's "We Are", and William Henry Smith's "Ride the Chariot" with soloist Gina Hanzlik from Wisconsin. Jamie Rapaport, from Pennsylvania, was our vocal featured soloist, who sang "I want to be a Prima Donna". (see more)
Among the band's repertoire were Von Suppe's "The Beautiful Galatea", Wagner's "Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral", and challenging "Wedding Dance" by Jacques Press. The talented clarinet section wowed audiences with "Clarinet Candy". (see more)
Our special combined musical production this year was a manuscript arrangement of "42 Street". The band and chorus brought life to the music, and audiences to their feet, thanks in part to our talented tap dancers! They were a hit!
SPECIAL WEATHER SURPRISES: We had a special treat this year in Grindelwald, Switzerland. After a day of clouds and rain, the spectacular mountains started to peak out behind the clouds right before our concert. The fresh white snow on the surrounding mountains made them more refreshingly beautiful that usual in the summertime. Indeed, the next morning was perfect for tour members to take advantage of the half-hour long cable car ride for an even more exhilarating view and some snow in which to play! Speaking of weather, SOA endured a crazy thunderstorm along Lake Maggiore in the wee hours of the morning, which eventually turned into wind and rain, flooding the streets, and some buildings in normally calm Stresa. Aside from another crazy, but brief storm while we were at the Eiffel Tower, SOA was fortunate to have a "cool and comfortable" weather year.
OTHER FUN THINGS: We are very happy to say that again our faithful wonderful drivers took wonderful care of us again this year. These drivers have been driving for SOA for over 15 years, each! Some other highlights include some brief impromptu choral performances in the Verona 1st century AD arena, the palace of Isola Bella, and even the castle of Neuschwanstein. We had a great group of students to help the tour go smoothly. Thanks, everyone, for the high quality concerts and representing America in a positive manner!
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