Before March 17th, I had never been out of the country. Not even Canada! I was born in the suburbs of Chicago and later raised in Southeastern Wisconsin - let's just say I didn't get out much. I do not think that attending UW-Whitewater - which is only 30 minutes from my hometown - counts as "getting out", but it was the best I had. That is, until I was given the opportunity to visit a total of four countries - and play my instrument? Oh yeah. This was happening.
The Flight: How DO we fly with instruments...I was excited as all get-out to finally be a world traveler. I did all my research - "hello" and "goodbye" in German and Czech, foodstuff to eat in each country, and best of all - how much can I bring with me on the plane. The problem was my instrument. As an oboist, my oboe would likely count as my one carry-on. There was no way I was storing that under the plan! You know how fragile a wood instrument was?
As expected, a flood of questions soared through my brain: can I bring another carry-on? Was there a dimension limit for my instrument? Could I bring the humidifier!? (oboe problems). Thankfully, I learned when we got to Chicago that our instruments (at least the small ones) were guaranteed carry-on with an additional carry-on permitted. And that is why you go through a travel agent when you're in a large group!
The Music: Our Performances and VenuesWe had some INCREDIBLE opportunities to perform in some of the most splendid venues in both Austria and the Czech Republic. Our first stop was Salzburg, where we could see the Alps from our hotel! We performed at the historic St Andra Kirche for a very appreciative audience. It was cold in there! And the echo was SO resounding - it was a real challenge for our ensemble to listen around, but we pulled it off.
Next we visited Melk Abbey for a tour - wow. Gorgeous doesn't begin to describe that place. The church was incredibly peaceful - I could only imagine what kind of amazing performances took place in there. We were graciously given about 15 minutes to sit and digest everything at the end of the tour. Needless to say, one of my favorite moments.