News Column

HCHS band students played in Europe

August 17, 2014

By Erin Schmitt, The Gleaner, Henderson, Ky.

Aug. 17--HENDERSON, Ky. -- Performing a concert in the pouring rain in Germany.

Being chased by a hungry swan along the Thames River in London.

Getting attacked by an errant shower head in Switzerland.

These are just a few of the memories Henderson County High School band students brought back from their two-week tour of Europe in July, performing in a seven-country musical tour with The Kentucky Ambassadors of Music.

HCHS Band Director Adam Thomas selected each of the students who joined him on the trip abroad.

"I nominated students who were first and foremost of good character, because you want to make sure it's students you can trust to be in seven different countries with you and sometimes on their own, spending time away from you. So, you want to know they are students you can trust," he said.

He looked for great musicians capable of learning a large quantity of music in a short amount of time and individuals who would represent the school well. Some of the students had never been outside the United States before.

"It was different to be in a place where everything wasn't so convenient," said senior Madison Hutto. "But it was a good experience to see how everybody else lives."

The students first attended a music camp in Louisville, Kentucky, for a week before departing for Europe with the rest of the Kentucky Ambassadors of Music, which consisted of band students from across the commonwealth. They visited and performed concerts in England, France, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Austria, Italy and Germany.

Crowd response varied. People in England danced along to the music, while the Swiss audience clapped along to every piece, including the encore. The concert in Germany drew the largest crowd, although everyone got soaked.

"We performed the percussion piece in the pouring down rain in the middle of Rothenburg Town Square," said senior Nathaniel Hobbs.

Nate Phelps, senior percussionist, added, "That was the most fun we had at any performance."

It wasn't all work, though. The students had plenty of time to sightsee at places of note such as Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, the Swiss Alps and other well-known locations.

Most of the students agreed that Switzerland with its beautiful mountains and fields was their favorite. France didn't get as favorable reviews.

"Paris was scary and dirty," said Phelps, adding they were in fear of pickpockets the whole time.

Restroom etiquette was a little tricky to figure out. The students were surprised to have to pay to use the bathroom in most public places, although the attendant at King's Cross Station in England let them in for free.

Amy Jones, a Murray State University freshman, ran into difficulty with turning on a shower at their hotel in Switzerland.

"At my house it takes a second for the water to come on, so I had my head in there and I poked it up," she said. "I didn't know the shower head was facing straight out, so it starts spraying me in the face and then I turn around and it moves and follows me and sprays me all over my back."

A few of the students' relatives also made the trip across the Atlantic. Kaycee Garner, a Henderson senior, said she was happy her family was there; otherwise, she would have run out of money.

"They told us we needed a lot less money than we really did," she said. "Things were pretty expensive over there."

Hobbs agreed, "They had this misconception that all we were going to spend our money on was food."

Everyone on the trip snapped up a few souvenirs. Hobbs, Phelps and Thomas paid a sketch artist in Paris$100 euros to sketch them as they ate crepes.

London was a popular place to shop: Senior Cameron Ivie purchased a T-shirt and a program from their trip to see "Phantom of the Opera" at Her Majesty's Theatre and Garner bought memorabilia at the Sherlock Holmes Museum. She and Hutto also bought jewelry from a crystal shop in Austria.

Jones' prize possession was a "Kitties of Athens" cat calendar that she got while in Greece. Jones stayed an extra five days touring after everyone else had flown back to the states.

Everyone had fun on the trip, but all were happy to return to Henderson.

"Getting home was the best part of the trip," said Phelps.

The students attending and their instruments were: senior Phelps, percussion; senior Ivie, percussion; senior Hutto, flute; Jones, French horn; Garner, clarinet; senior Hobbs, percussion.


(c)2014 The Gleaner (Henderson, Ky.)

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Source: Gleaner, The (Henderson, KY)

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