by Katherine Fox
Members of the WHS Choral department traveled to Austria and Italy over Spring Break to perform eight concerts in various locations throughout the countries, including St. Stephen’s Cathedral, St. Peter’s Cathedral and Melk Abbey in Austria.
The group, comprised of members of the Concert Choir and Bella Cora, traveled throughout Austria and Italy, stopping in Vienna, Salzburg, Venice and Florence to perform at numerous venues.
According to Chorus Teacher Mr. John Brzozowski, many of the performances were held in churches and cathedrals, which made for a unique experience and atmosphere.
Said junior Rob Cassie: "The cathedrals in Europe were built to have excellent acoustics, so all of our notes resonated extremely well. After we finished a piece, you could still hear the note for another minute."
The new environment provided other positive aspects as well. "The cathedrals are lavishly decorated, and being surrounded by so much history and beauty was amazing....The churches themselves tell so much about the city and when [the cities] were built," said senior Zoe Greenburg.
The group spent months perfecting the music in preparation for their trip. Junior Grace Partridge said, "Learning the music is a pretty long process because you have to go through every voice part more than once."
According to Brzozowski, all of the pieces were performed a capella, meaning that there were no instruments accompanying the group. This musical style created a beautiful sound but added to the difficulty of the music, added Brzozowski.
Said Cassie, "We had to find the notes ourselves without relying on the piano to save us, but I think it made us more self-sufficient as singers in the long run."
Aside from performing, the group also took advantage of the historical sights that Austria and Italy had to offer.
Brzozowski said that one of the sites he had most looked forward to visiting was Mozart’s childhood home. Another experience that many students enjoyed was gondola rides through Venice.
Senior and Concert Choir President Annie Oldakowski said that the most memorable part of the trip was a stop at the Melk Abbey.
Added Oldakowski: "[It] is this beautiful place on a hill overlooking a small Austrian town. That was the biggest and [most] ornate cathedral we sang in, and I thought we sounded beautiful."
The preparation for the trip went beyond rehearsing the songs. In order to alleviate a portion of the cost, members participated in various fundraising efforts.
According to Partridge, these efforts included selling Yankee Candles, Tupperware, chocolate and poinsettias, holding "restaurant nights" at Chili’s and Five Guys and participating in a concert where some of the ticket money went toward the trip.
The biggest and most successful fundraiser was a Christmas tree pick-up service, which raised over $1,700 for the trip, according to Oldakowski.
Greenburg said: "This trip was great to have at the end of my senior year. All of us who have sung throughout high school were able to experience this together, which made it very special. I know that we grew as musicians and that next year’s choirs will be stronger as well."