This summer, five area high school band students – Carlos Morales, Crystal Hazel and Matthew Kleinjan, Stevensville, and Amaya Jensen and Amanda Boelman, along with their chaperones Jeremy and Kendra Ruff of Stevensville, traveled to Europe with 286 other students from Montana and North Dakota. The students traveled with a group called The Northern Ambassadors of Music, which is a subdivision of a larger organization called Voyagers International. The Colorado-based company was started in 1970 with the purpose of bringing the musical talents of American students abroad.
The students were nominated by their school’s band directors and fundraised for two and a half years prior to the trip. Before taking to the sky to travel abroad, the group spent three days at a camp in Fargo at North Dakota State University to rehearse. A farewell concert was held in Fargo on July 8th prior to departure, right before the students loaded a bus to Minneapolis, MN to catch their flight to London, which was their first stop.
In London, they spent time at Windsor Palace and The Tower of London. The group was given permission by the Queen of England to play their concert outside of Windsor Castle on the front lawn.
Upon leaving London, the group traveled to France via ferry over the English Channel where they saw the White Cliffs of Dover. The first day in France was spent in Paris where the students toured the Eiffel Tower, viewed the Notre Dame Cathedral, and took a boat ride on the Seine River. The next day, the group traveled to Fontainebleau, France to perform their concerts and tour Chateau de Fontainebleau which served as a residence for Napoleon III.
The next stop would be Crans-Montana, Switzerland, where they had some free time to explore, perform a concert in the town square, and tour Lake Geneva in the town of Montreaux. While in Switzerland, the group took a train to Zermatt where they were able to see the famous mountain of the Alps, The Matterhorn, and attended a Swiss Fondue party that local residents put on which included authentic music and dancing.
The next stop on the tour was Seefeld, a village in Austria, where the students were able to see the site where the Winter Olympics were held in 1964 and 1976. After a concert in the park in downtown Seefeld, the group loaded a bus for Venice, Italy where they traveled by way of boat taxi. They spent the day touring the city, visiting a glassblowing factory, and toured San Marco Cathedral.
The last leg of the trip included a tour of the Dachau concentration camp, and a few days in Rothenburg, Germany where they held another concert and explored the well-preserved medieval old town.
The students flew home from Frankfurt, Germany on July 24th and returned home to the Bitterroot Valley a few days later.