Thursday, July 26, 2007

Students perform in European concert tour

By Chip Cobb
GateHouse News Service

Weston/Wayland -

Local student musicians from Wayland, Weston, Sudbury and Westford joined with others from Wisconsin and Virginia for the Liberty Tour 2007. Organized by the American Music Abroad group, the students returned last week from a two-week, seven-concert tour of Europe.

Over 130 students made the trip, along with their chaperones and directors, including 48 Weston residents, and 12 Waylanders. The trip, led by Weston High School teacher Christopher Memoli, traveled through France, Brussels, Luxembourg, Germany and Austria. Preparations for the tour were extensive.

"Mr. Memoli told us about it at the beginning of the year, and we had to make an audition tape," explained Jaime Jimenez, a Weston High School sophomore. "Once school ended we took a bus down to Lafayette College, where we had what Mr. Memoli called ‘Band Boot Camp’ to prepare."

After two days of "Boot Camp," the tour took off for Europe on June 25. Once in Europe, the group moved quickly, never spending more than three nights in one place.
The goals of the tour were quite simple, according to Jimenez.

"It was all about going into Europe and giving the people in the towns we visited a sense of American music. We played famous marches and pieces they would recognize. At the same time, it gave us a sense of European culture."

The tour made stops in many towns amidst its travels.

"Brugge was probably my favorite," said cellist Jeff Stix, a Weston High School senior. "It was a smaller and more quaint town. You were able to experience the life and the atmosphere more. The cathedral there was amazing and the people were great."

"I’ve actually visited some of the countries we went to before," continued Stix, "It’s a completely different experience, though, going without your parents. There are so many things we did as a group … We had a snowball fight and went tubing on top of a glacier in Germany."

Of the trip’s seven concerts, the last was the resounding favorite.

"We really improved each time, so the last one was great," said Stix. "It was a really happy time because we were really celebrating what we had been working on together for weeks. It was a very celebratory mood."

A lot of work went into the trip, and at times it was quite difficult, according to Magdalena Buczek, a violinist going into her junior year at Wayland High School.

"The outdoor concerts were quite an experience," Buczek said. "I’ve never played a concert outside before, and the wind was blowing and sheet music was flying everywhere, and every time you wanted to turn the page you had to undo the clips and everything."

The trip was well worth the work, and Buczek enjoyed it thoroughly.

"My favorite place was Salzburg," she said, "we saw the birthplace of Mozart, and we did a lot of shopping … We went up into the castle and toured the whole place, so that was cool."

But the trip was about more than just fun and music in Europe. It was a learning and growing experience for the students.

"I went on the previous trip two years ago," said Emily Gazda, a Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School senior. "This time … toward the end I started to want to go home, but I was a lot more independent than I have been in the past … This time I took control of my own money, and my own things, living more independently. I think it should be a sort of college preparatory experience."

"We know this trip somehow affected us but we don’t know quite how yet," Buczek explained. "We might know how in a couple days or a couple months. There are small things now – we did laundry by ourselves, we were responsible for our passports – becoming more responsible. But for the big picture, I think we’ll find out in the future how it changed us. But not just yet."

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