All Good Things…..

Posted on February 6th, 2014 by

As with all good things, after 16 days visiting and making music in the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Austria, it is time for the Gustavus Wind Orchestra to close the curtain on its 2014 European Concert Tour.

Neuschwanstein Castle, Hohenschwangau, Austria

Neuschwanstein Castle, Hohenschwangau, Austria

As I write this, the members of the Gustavus Wind Orchestra are hiking or riding from the village of Hohenschwangau in the Austrian Alps south of Munich up the hill to Neuschwanstein Castle. The first of 2 groups should be arriving shortly to begin their tour of the castle. In the sunshine of this unusually warm 6th of February, I’m sitting by the Lake Alpsee with my computer, enjoying the view of the lake, the Alps and some of Bavaria’s finest. The view across the lake is nothing short of spectacular as the sun moves through a cloudless sky toward the western mountain peaks. Across the lake a flutist is playing a classical work that I should be able to name but, for the moment, can only enjoy as its simple purity travels across the lake. Having been to the castle on past tours, I offered to take the tough duty and stay below to put my thoughts into print for the blog.

This is Bavaria at its finest. Its inspiration is priceless.

The past few days have been a whirlwind of activity for the ensemble as we left Hungary on Monday, following wonderful three days and traveled into Austria for concerts in Vienna and Bad Ishcl, south of Salzburg. On the way, we visited the home of Josef Haydn and Esterhazy Palace, the home of his patron. Following our arrival in Vienna, we were honored to be hosted for dinner by renowned Viennese leider singer Jutta Unkart-Seifert in her flat next to Austria’s Parliament building, followed by some free time in the city.

Gustavus Wind Orchestra at L'Orangerie, Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna

Gustavus Wind Orchestra at L’Orangerie, Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna

On Tuesday morning, we “saw the city” stopping by the gilded stature of the Waltz King, Johann Strauss. The afternoon opened with our concert at the Orangerie at Schönbrunn Palace where Vienna’ favorite son, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, premiered many of his works and actually staged a “battle of the bands” with fellow Viennese composer and rival Antonio Saleri. While the performance hall may have been any other room in any of the palaces we’ve been privileged to visit on the tour, this was special and the GWO rose to meet the challenge in wonderful fashion. This was Mozart’s stage and the afternoon was for the music. The remainder of the afternoon and evening was for the students – free time in the City of Mozart. As I wrote in an email earlier in the week, free time in Vienna is the dream of every musician. The first venture onto the Viennese subway may have put the Gusties slightly out of their comfort zones but as they made their way to the city center, the bells of St. Stephen’s Cathedral welcomed them at 8:00 and all else was very, very good.

The Gustavus Wind Orchestra at Kongress Hall, Bad Ishl, Austria

The Gustavus Wind Orchestra at Kongress Hall, Bad Ishl, Austria

On Wednesday, once again on the buses, with the destination of Mozart’s birthplace in Salzburg. Following a tour of city and some time at the city center, we loaded the buses for our final concert south of Salzburg in the Kongress Hall in Bad Ischl. The afternoon drive through the Bavarian Alps was incredible and, after 2 weeks of performances in venues with challenging acoustics, Kongress Hall was a warm (literally) and welcoming space. The performance was wonderful and the audience in this world-class venue was on it feet at the end of the final selection on the program. The ensemble moved from the stage to the rehearsal room, completed its post-performance ritual and did a final strike of the stage. After dinner at a local restaurant, the members loaded the bus and made the late night drive back into Salzburg.

The beauty of the Bavarian Alps greeted us this morning as we were back on the buses and headed for Munich — with one small detour to Hohenschwangau for this afternoon’s visit to Neuschwanstein. Some rode horse-drawn carriages and others walked up to the castle. The beauty of the place and the incredible weather created a special memory for the Gustavus Wind Orchestra as it completed its final day of the 2014 European Tour. Tomorrow morning will bring the final day and one final bus ride to the Munich Airport for the flight home. The long flight will give the Gusties time to reflect on the past 17 days and how these days have changed their lives. From Prague’s St. Simon & Judah, through the cathedrals and basilicas of southern Poland, into Hungary and our 4th visit to Pomaz School of Music, and finally Vienna’s L’Orangerie and Bad Ischl’s Kongress Hall, there will be much to consider. The work and the fun of these 17 days will linger for years in the memories of these young musicians.

Yes, all good things must come to an end, but it’s good to know that the memories of making music with so many other Gustie musicians and bringing it to friends, new and old, across eastern and western Europe will last a lifetime.

The Gustavus Wind Orchestra, 2014, above Lake Wolfgang, south of Salzburg, Austria

The Gustavus Wind Orchestra, 2014, above Lake Wolfgang, south of Salzburg, Austria



One Comment

  1. Ken and Kari Voigt says:

    Thank you for ‘taking us along with you’ through your words and pictures. It helped us feel a part of the trip. We look forward to having a frame of reference as our kids share their experiences of this fantastic journey! We so appreciate all of your effort that went into this trip. Thank you, thank you, thank you!