GWO in Europe 2010, Day 10, Pomaz/Budapest

Posted on February 3rd, 2010 by

Day 10

Drs. Nimmo & Fienen outside St. Matthias Church, in snowy Budapest

Drs. Nimmo & Fienen outside St. Matthias Church, in snowy Budapest

After a day of sight-seeing in Budapest, the wind orchestra members arrived at the concert hall of the Pomaz Music School and began the routine of preparing for the evening’s concert. However, this day was anything but routine. The GWO members had stayed with host families the night before; an adventure that had caused a bit of anxiety as the date approached. “We don’t know the language or customs. We will be staying with families we did not know. We are so far from home. They may not like us.” As the host families arrived at the end of Day 9, the anxiety vanished, at least partially, as the young Americans met their Hungarian hosts and drove off into the night. For those of us who were returning after 16 years, we knew everything would be great. It would be part of the ILCHE promise of the tour. We knew these two evenings with their new families would be unforgettable.

1994. While it may be difficult to believe that it’s been 16 years since the Gustavus Wind Orchestra visited Pomaz and presented a concert for the newly-formed Pomaz Music School, it’s easy to see. The school’s membership has tripled. They have a new location (at least it’s new to us.) 7 or 8 of the young musicians who had been invited by Dr. Nimmo to come to the stage and sit or stand in “their” GWO section while the ensemble played in 1994 are now alumni members of the Pomaz Wind Orchestra. They would be opening the concert tonight. They would be showing us how they had grown as musicians and they would, once again, be a part of the concert.

GWO in snow at Heroes Square, Budapest

GWO in snow at Heroes Square, Budapest

At 6:00, as preparation for the concert by both ensembles was continuing, the audience began to fill the small lobby of the concert hall. When the doors opened at 6:30, the hall quickly filled. Anticipation for this return engagement was high and parents and host families were anxious to get a place to sit. At the same time, tuning by the Pomaz Wind Orchestra continued on stage and the Gustavus Wind Orchestra in the rehearsal studio adjacent to the stage. At 7:00, the member of the GWO moved out into an already filled auditorium and lined both side walls to hear the Pomaz ensemble open the concert with two works arranged by Conductor Széplaki Zoltán, music from the motion picture GLADIATOR and a medley of popular tunes. (Excerpts by Pomaz Wind Orchestra) The two ensembles exchanged places and there was no empty space in the concert hall. (Excerpts from DANCE MOVEMENTS)

To write that this performance was “standing room only” would not be entirely accurate. There was no standing room in either the concert hall or the lobby that was not occupied. There was no space between audience and musicians. There was no gap between listeners and players. There was no distance to separate the stage from the seats. It was, essentially, one group in the 200-seat hall. One ensemble connected simply by music. It was, as music should be, a community event and it was exciting.

As Day 10 ended with an exchange of gifts and many words of thanks, there was no anxiety as the young Americans departed with their Hungarian hosts. There was no need for anxiety as together we had experienced something very special. Together we had reduced the distance between our two cultures.

New Places, New Friends

New Places, New Friends

As Day 11 dawned, the host families and their charges returned to the buses for the drive to Vienna. It was both cheerful and tearful. On that snowy morning in Hungary, email and facebook addresses were exchanged and photos taken. Conversations from the night before were continued and promised to continue. Hugs that were reluctant 40 hours earlier were filled with emotion. Goodbyes were said with invitations to return again.

16 years is a long time and many things have changed. Important things have not.

We rediscovered what we had discovered in Pomaz in 1994.  It was certainly worth the wait.



  1. Patrick & Jean Mahowald says:

    Your experiences in Hungary sound very memorable! Our daughter also wrote having a wonderful host family! See you soon. We are looking forward to your return, and hearing the “home concert” at Gustavus. 🙂

    Pat & Jean

  2. Lilla Herold says:

    It was also great for us having you guys here, definitely a long-life experience 🙂 We hope to see you again.

    Lilla from the Pomaz Wind Orchestra

  3. Great piece, Al. Thanks for keeping us informed.
    Debbie (Gilbertson) Oberschelp