Vienna: “A True Sense of Belonging”

Posted on January 28th, 2019 by


—Dispatch from Zach Diedrich, junior vocal music education major from Bloomington, Minn.

Since my first year, when I had the honor and privilege of joining the Gustavus Choir as a bass, international choir tour 2019 was an elusive concept that seemed so far away.

When I found out we were going to Europe I was ecstatic. When I found out we would be performing in some of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world, I was ecstatic. And when I found out the breakfast buffet at our hotel in Vienna had bougie espresso drinks, I was ecstatic.

I write this blog post on our tour bus leaving our first stop of many: Vienna, Austria. My dream has become a reality, and processing it is something I have not had much time to do until now. From walking tours of the city center, to visiting the apartments of Mozart and Beethoven, to seeing Falstaff at the Vienna State Opera, this trip has exceeded every expectation I had set.

Then, my eyes set upon St. Stephen’s Cathedral in the heart of Vienna. I had just turned a corner when all of a sudden this massive cathedral seemed to appear out of nowhere. When I saw it my heartbeat quickened, chills ran through my body, and the words “oh wow” came out of my mouth. In one second, this place that had only existed in photos online became real.

We had a half-hour afternoon rehearsal in St. Stephen’s the day of our Saturday evening performance, and after only 30 seconds of singing, I knew that it would be a special performance.

That evening, a phrase stuck with me more than it has in the past. As we were singing “The Road Home” by Stephen Paulus, the choir comes in halfway through the third verse with the phrase, “There is no such beauty as where you belong…


In this moment I had watery eyes and a humble spirit. It was in this moment during our first concert, in the most magnificent place of worship I have ever been, that this once elusive concept of a trip became real and tangible for me. In this moment, I felt a true sense of belonging with this choir, and really appreciated the beauty and privilege of that.

I have had many of these “wowza” moments in our first two full days of this tour, and I absolutely cannot wait for the many more to come.




  1. JUDY FIENEN says:


  2. Kathy Brown says:

    Zach… thank you for giving your thoughts on this unbelievable journey. I am sure that, with each turn, it takes your breath away. Take in every little site that you can and let your mind and attention and heart absorb all the tiny details that will stay with you forever. What a gift this is for all of you. For years, things you hear, see and smell will remind you of these precious days. Enjoy!!!

  3. Yumiko says:

    Hey, Zaaach! Minnesotans are freezing to death here and your heartwarming note warming us a lot.
    I hope to see you soon to hear more stories…. if I’m not dead by then…

  4. Dennis Diedrich says:

    from grandpa denny…very nice words of your thoughts and feelings of your tour so far. Enjoy the rest of your time in Europe and we can’t wait for you to tell us all about it.

  5. Sandy Mullen says:

    Zach, so glad you have this opportunity! Enjoy!

  6. Anne van Bruggen says:

    Zach, so fun to hear about your experience so far. These memories will stick with you forever. There’s nothing like making beautiful music in beautiful places with beautiful people! Thanks for sharing with all of us!

  7. Anne van Bruggen says:

    Zach, so fun to read this. Nothing better than making beautiful music in beautiful places with beautiful people!! Enjoy every moment and thanks for sharing with us!

  8. Todd B says:

    Zach, you are living your best life!! The photo of you and Lauren are awesome! I can’t wait to hear all about this. Be safe and enjoy your last week.