Intersession Trip Brings Students, Alumni Together on European Concert Tour

Created: February 10, 2017
Last Updated: January 15, 2020

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WASHINGTON, PA (Feb. 10, 2017)—Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) students and alumni headed to Prague, Vienna, and Salzburg for a 10-day European Concert Tour this January. Partnering with ACFEA Tour Consultants, a company that has been arranging performing tours for more than 60 years, W&J Professor of Music Susan Medley, Ph.D., brought together six current students, 10 alumni, and three friends of alumni to perform in some of the most musically historical venues in Europe.

Before departing, students met for five days to rehearse music, learn about the musical history and culture of the cities they would be visiting, and give presentations on the cities, sites, composers, concert venues, and choral works that were part of the tour.

When the group arrived in Europe, they quickly shed their jet lag and kicked off their tour in Prague. “Our current W&J students and our alumni came together very quickly to become a cohesive ensemble. The first time we all sang together was the day we arrived in Prague. We only had six hours of rehearsal before our first concert,” said Medley said.

The group gave formal concerts and impromptu performances in each city they visited.

In Prague, they sang in the Church of Our Holy Saviour and were asked to sing during their tour of the Prague Estates Theater (where Mozart conducted the premiere of Don Giovanni). Performance venues in Vienna included the Church of Zentralfriedhof, Vienna’s Central Cemetery that houses the graves of Schubert, Brahms, Beethoven, and Schoenberg, and at Kapuchinerkirsche, the church that houses the crypt of the royal Hapsburg family. In Salzburg, singers could see their breath as they performed in St. Sebastian’s Church—where Medley said it was 17 degrees outside and the holy water was frozen inside.

When not performing, the group took in the cities’ sights through walking tours, organ concerts, opera performances, and visits to Mozart’s birthplace, the Prague Castle, Schoenbrunn Palace, St. Florian’s Abby, and Salzburg Cathedral, to name a few.

The most memorable part of the trip culminated in an unexpected performance at the St. Stephen’s Cathedral, also known as the Stephansdom, located in the heart of Vienna.

“Few choirs are accepted to perform there,” said Medley. When choirs do perform, they normally sing at the side of the sanctuary next to the organ, out of sight of most visitors. On the day of the performance, the group was led past the sanctuary to sing at the front of the altar—becoming only the sixth choir in their tour guide’s eight years to earn such an honor.

Steeped in rich, cultural history and once-in-a-lifetime performances, the trip was an enriching experience for students, alumni, and Medley herself. “There is nothing like singing the music of Mozart, Haydn, and Schubert in the cities where they lived and worked, or singing Bruckner in the church where he served as organist,” said Dr. Medley.” The entire trip was an unforgettable experience. I was so proud of the singers and the way they represented W&J to our European audiences.”

About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit www.washjeff.edu, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.

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