GWO in Europe 2010 – Getting in the Swing of Things

Posted on January 25th, 2010 by

Posted by Hanna Schutte

Getting in the Swing of Things

Having been officially on tour for several days now, a routine is falling into place.  Receiving wake up calls, traveling with a bus full of entertaining band mates, and going through the preparations for a concert are a part of everyday life on a tour with the Gustavus Wind Orchestra.  By no means, however, is this routine predictable.  In fact, it is just the opposite.  We are in a routine of waking up and knowing that each day will likely be greeted with the unexpected, unfamiliar, and exciting discoveries and adventures to be had in Europe, such as crosswalks frequently without lights at busy intersections, narrow streets, and trying to convert liters, Celsius, military time, and various forms of currency.

After several flights, a short nap, and lots of airline food, we finally arrived in Prague. On our first day, after an introduction to the historical center of the city by our tour guides Annamaria and Carmen, we were free to explore on our own.  It was incredible to see a city with so much history to display.  Growing up in the Midwest, we don’t have buildings with hundreds of years of history, so just exploring was an experience many on the tour have never had.  Band members saw famous sites such as Wenceslas Square, the Tyn Church, Old Town Hall, Powder Tower, Municipal House, Charles Bridge, and more.  We wished we could have had more time—there was so much to see!

The next day was our walking tour of Prague with our guide Otto, and seeing the Prague Castle was phenomenal.  Cameras were flashing at a rapid pace as we walked through a palace where kings and queens have stepped, and as we passed through a hall where knights once planned jousting tournaments.  We also toured through a beautiful cathedral that took hundreds of years to build, and with more decorations than a person could take in at once.

That evening was our first concert, and we performed for a full house of enthusiastic audience members.  We played in a beautiful church, and the feeling of having finally performed the pieces we have been working on for so long was powerful and unforgettable.

The next morning we left the city of Prague, and as we drove, we caught more of a glimpse of the Communist-era housing where, according to our guide, a large portion of the population of Prague resides.  It is a stark contrast to the medieval buildings we toured, but a significant part of the history of Prague nonetheless.  Even in the hotel we stayed at, Communist propaganda in the form of carvings above the entryway showed happy workers left over from the 1950s.

Once we reached the Czech countryside, many people commented on how similar the area looked to Minnesota.  Despite the fact that it was covered in snow, it seemed very flat and sparse, with an occasional hilly area.  After journeying for a time, we arrived at Hradec Kralov, population: 100,000.  It was fun to see and tour a city that isn’t quite as large as Prague, and pick up a little more history along the way.  Soon, we were crossing the border to Poland!  It was surprising that, almost instantly after we crossed, mountains sprang up in front of us.  They were beautiful, filled with trees covered in frost.  When we had stopped for lunch earlier, many people came through in skiing gear, and now we knew why.

Our latest adventure has been touring through the grand city of Wroclaw.  This city has marvelous churches, and lots of great stories from our guide, Berta.  One of these was about a bridge we crossed, the sides covered in padlocks.  She explained that couples came to the bridge, using the lock as a symbol of their love and throwing the keys off the side.  We also sat in a Baroque university hall what was covered with lavish decorations, and got a chance to experience the marvelous acoustics in the music hall that inspired Brahms.  (To test it for ourselves, we sang our table grace song.)

Our second concert of the tour was performed at Wroclaw Radio Orchestra’s concert Hall.  We saw several posters all over the city advertising our performance, so we were all very excited to play our concert.

Tour may be only just beginning, but we’ve already experienced so much, it’s hard to pick and choose what to talk about.  I can’t wait to see what is in store and what new experiences are to be had in the upcoming days!

 


7 Comments

  1. Rich Linngren says:

    Having the technology to be able to follow you on this trip day by day is wonderful and exciting for us as parents. We love watching the video that you do and post. Keep it up, and have a safe and as you say, “ILCHE”.
    See you when you get home at the concert Jeff and Hannah.
    Mom and Dad

  2. Judy Olson says:

    Go, Gusties!
    What an adventure to remember….
    We are proud that Gustavus represents USA is such a classy way.
    We watch the weather temps for your travel areas. Hope you all are warm.We are having a blizzard today here in Moorhead, northern Minnesota.

    Be well,do good work, and keep in touch.

    Jim and Judy Olson
    Steven’s mom and dad

  3. Candice Matykowski says:

    Thank you for the wonderful updates about GWO in Europe. The Photos have been a joy.

  4. Robin Ruegg says:

    I’m enjoying the updates–this is great. Thank you. Enjoy the trip!

  5. … NICE TO KNOW THAT ALL IS WELL FOR THE BUSY TRAVELERS/PERFORMERS … THANKS FOR THE UPDATES SO THAT THOSE OF US BACK IN HERE CAN ENJOY YOUR EXPERIENCES VICARIOUSLY … BEST OF FORTUNE TO YOU AS YOU WRAP UP YOUR ADVENTURES AND COME BACK TO THE MIDWEST … A SPECIAL HELLO TO PERCUSSIONIST HANNA SCHUTTE !!!

  6. Grandma Lillian Schutte says:

    We really enjoyed watching the performances on the video and reading about your experiences in the blogs (the pictures are helpful, too). We have been thinking of you. Hope you are eating good! (And staying warm.)