Hungarian Connections

Posted on February 2nd, 2014 by

Yesterday, the musicians of GWO woke up in Hungarian homes, having spent the previous evening trying to connect via language and culture.  Some had expressed a bit of nervousness as their names were being called by Al Behrends to be paired with their hosts.  But when the sun rose over the Danube in the morning, all of the nervousness seemed to have “left the building.”  Smiles, laughter, and an anticipation for our day together reigned supreme.

image imageWe took a bus tour of the city, and then a walking tour of the area around Matthias Church, ending with an opportunity to be inside the recently restored sanctuary.  It is a truly spectacular place, with a magnificent history.  Immediately outside and behind the church is perhaps one of the most beautiful city vistas to be found anywhere.  It was truly a “wow” moment for the students, and a wonderful opportunity for me to return to this place, having first seen it when on a brass tour in 1989 with now retired Gustavus professors of music David Fienen, Mark Lammers, and current VP for Institutional Advancement, Thomas Young.  (I recall a wonderful conversation about the future that Tom and I had on a beautiful early June day in 1989 while overlooking the city of Budapest, now nearly twenty-five years ago. It remains a special memory to this day.)

After our city tour, we were off to the Pomaz School of Music to prepare for our 6:00 PM performance. This was to be a shared performance with the Pomaz Wind Orchestra. Such opportunities are rare, and very rewarding. The Pomaz musicians performed with great passion and exuberance. They performed with the “heart of Hungary.” As I sat in the front row, the teacher in me saw the faces of students in love with the joy of music learning and being completely fulfilled in the moment. Language is no barrier at all when one considers what music does for us. 🙂

Then, it was our opportunity to perform –

And once again, the GWO musicians performed with precision, artistry, and joy. Last night was a shared international night of culture and friendship. I am deeply thankful for such opportunities!



  1. judy fienen says:

    The hosts must have enjoyed having such talented, young and friendly students too., It is not easy to step into such a unique situation where language and customs may be very different but the learning comes in finding how much joy can be in that experience, for the brave

  2. Mildred Nimmo says:

    Thank you for the daily update of feelings and magnificent edifices. What an extraordinary impressive experience for those young lives.

  3. Andy M says:

    You can find a few unofficial youtube videos of GWO in Poland. Google gustavus wind orchestra 2014 nutiska! It is fun to get a glimpse from the perspective of the audience!

  4. Thomas W. Young says:

    I can report that a photo from the day we played in Matthias has hung on my wall for nearly 25 years. It is a beautiful place filled with fond memories.