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Hudson High School choirs take the sound of music to Europe

Andy Haase conducts the Chamber Choir in St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna. It was the site for the final performances of the tour. Photo submitted1 / 2
From the left, students Zach Kurkoski, Nate Campbell, Reilin Weber, Noey Anderson, Erin Bloomer and Kayla Walls enjoy some free time at a local amusement park in Vienna. Submitted photo2 / 2

March can be a lovely time to travel, especially if it is spring break and you are in the Hudson High School Choral program.

This year 74 members, all junior and seniors from the Chamber and Chanteuse choirs, traveled to four countries, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Austria from March 12 to March 21. Including parent and administrative chaperones the total traveling was 95. They departed Minneapolis on three separate flights and started their tour in Prague traveling on two buses.

"I wanted to go to this area because it is heart of choral music," said Andy Haase, director of choral activities for Hudson High School. "It was a phenomenal tour. It surpassed all my expectations."

The actually planning of the itinerary and coordination of concerts is done by a tour operator that specializes in performance and educational tours.

"I had an amazing time on the tour," said Kari Heisler, Hudson High School Choral director. "The churches we performed at were breathtaking and the audiences were so receptive and appreciative."

After performing at St. Nicholas Church in Prague, the students traveled to Krakow, Poland, where they performed an evening concert to an audience of over 500 at St. Mary's Church.

"St. Mary's was the most moving concert," said Nate Campbell. "Just knowing there was so much history involved in that building and area."

While in Poland the students also visited the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps.

After the tour they performed at a Lutheran Church in Ustron, Poland.

"At this church they were so appreciative and they served us homemade soup afterwards," said Kari Pelzel.

"The priest there made the comment it had been a long time since he had seen so many people in his church," said Haase.

The students continued their educational experience and performance schedule by giving concerts, some planned and some impromptu in the Wieliczka Salt Mine in Slovakia, a British School in Bratislava and a final concert in Vienna's St. Stephen's Cathedral.

"Our tour guides were very knowledgeable and our parent and administrative chaperones were incredible to have along," said Heisler. "It made Andy's and my job much less stressful. Plus our students were so fun to travel with. We had no discipline problems, they were always respectful and helpful and got along with each other extremely well."

The choir was well received whereever they went including earning two standing ovations and an encore.

"The tour guides said this was the best American choir they had heard," said Nate Campbell.

"We were awestruck," said Kelsey McNamee. The students and instructors were amazed at the acoustics.

"The reverb was amazing," said McNamee.

"It sounded like we were still singing," said Campbell.

The group brings back memories and experiences both fun and educational.

"It was the opportunity of a lifetime to be able to visit these countries," said Heisler. Hudson choir members performed in venues used by Mozart, Hayden and the Vienna Boys Choir.