For the first time, members of the select choirs at KO were given the unique opportunity to travel to Germany this past summer and experience the rich culture and history while also improving their skills as singers.
On June 13, students in choral groups Outlook and Voce Novissima set out for their week-long journey in Stuttgart. Upon their arrival, they were greeted by Maria Fiedler, the Headmaster of the German school Musikschule Filderstadt, who, along with Director of Voce Novissima Steve Mitchell, was responsible for planning the trip and ensuring everything went as smoothly as possible.
For the students and chaperones, one of the most exciting parts was performing in one of three concerts: the first was in Heidelberg at the Church of the Holy Spirit, the second was at Stiftskirche St. George in Tübingen, and the third was at the music school.
Senior Spencer Schaller said he enjoyed the music school performance the most. “It was probably the most emotional concert I had with people from KO because not only were we all singing in front of a complete group of strangers in a different country, but this also was my last concert with the seniors from last year, who I had been singing with since middle school,” he said. To put it simply, Spencer said he felt like the whole group in Tübingen was just exceptional. “The group worked really well with each soloist, and the balance was perfect, so it was one of the best [concerts] we’ve ever had.”
On the other hand, senior Molly Jones said she really liked the city of Heidelberg and thought it was an exciting experience. “Walking through the streets and being in the city made it feel like this [performance] was worth it and exactly what we came for,” she said. Besides the scheduled concerts, there were also a couple of impromptu performances, including one on a gondola ride through Tübingen. “When I think about this time, my heart feels warm,” said Ms. Fiedler. “I often go back to the Facebook page and watch videos of the performance because it was so impressive to me.”
Outlook Director David Baker said he was also impressed with how much the students enjoyed staying with their host families. “I think it improves the experience tenfold because you’re not just an outsider looking in; you’re an outsider being welcomed in,” he said. “You get the opportunity to ask and answer questions, and you get to see a family in that setting and be a part of it.”
Both Outlook and Voce Novissima were split up into pairs, and each stayed with a different host family, in turn garnering a unique, enriching experience for everyone. “The connections I made with my family were unforgettable,” sophomore Serafina Squatrito said. “I really got to know the family, and I am staying in touch with them.”
After dedicating an entire day to exploring Stuttgart, the Musikschule Filderstadt performance was a bittersweet way of saying goodbye and thanking the families for welcoming the students of KO. “The families were so proud of everyone, so to watch them enjoy how talented the choirs were was a real joy for me,” Mr. Mitchell said.
The German orchestra students from the Musikschule Filderstadt had such a fun time hosting the vocally talented Wyverns that now they are planning to come to KO in the fall of 2020, which will include performances and sight-seeing of West Hartford. This exchange between the two schools is one that Mr. Mitchell, Mr. Baker, and Ms. Fiedler all said they hope to continue for many years to come.