Thirty-five Northern Michigan University students performed choir music in Vienna, Austria and Kraków, Poland this summer as part of a faculty-led “NMU European Tour.”
The performers were comprised of Arts Chorale and University Choir members. They performed primarily in churches and cathedrals, which were hundreds to thousands of years old. A historically significant location the group performed at was Klosterkirche der Barmherzige Brüder, a monastery in Vienna where Franz Haydn, an Austrian composer of the classical period, was formerly the music director.
“Students hopefully have a glimpse at what it’s like to tour as a musician now, which is important for music majors,” said Director of Choirs Erin Colwitz, who led to trip. “Traveling and being expected to perform at a high level every night are characteristics of performing on a tour.”
Colwitz said that European audiences enjoyed the performances.
“They were very impressed by the amount of music we did and the difficulty level,” said Colwitz. “I was impressed by the level of musicality the students could bring to the table.”
Some students also had the opportunity to conduct.
NMU student Hayley Kukulis said, “Being able to conduct and perform in sacred places where other great composers and artists have performed for hundreds of years reminded me of how important music is in my life as well as the impact it can have on others.”
When not rehearsing or performing, the group visited museums, concentration camps and did sightseeing activities.
“We not only learned about European music, but also their customs, people and history,” said NMU student Anna Morrison. “From this trip we were able to see how universal the language of music really is and we connected with people we otherwise would have been unable to communicate with.”
Colwitz said that the trip helped NMU and its music department gain international recognition as the choir sang for European audiences and musically notable individuals.