Three Grant Union music students joined a group of 387 other high school musicians as Oregon Ambassadors of Music for a 16-day tour of Europe.
It was the trip of a lifetime for the trio, which included Samantha Floyd, who plays trombone and will be a senior this school year; Carle Wright, who plays bass clarinet, graduated in June and will start classes at Central Oregon Community College in Bend this fall; and Jacob Smith, a junior who plays oboe and moved to New Hampshire with his family last month.
Former Grant Union music director Lori Hart recommended the three students for the trip. Levana James started as the new music director last fall.
The students held fundraisers leading up to the July 3-18 trip as the cost was $6,245 each, not including food and other expenses.
The ambassadors performed in six countries — England, France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Germany — and half were in band with half in choir.
Some of the students were “doublers,” such as Floyd. She played the trombone in the band and sang with the altos in choir.
Floyd said the concerts were memorable.
“The choir performed in St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice where the acoustics were amazing,” she said. “Every note we sang held on forever.”
She said they sang three “reverent” baroque selections, while tourists gathered in the basilica.
Floyd said that in several places many of the locals didn’t speak English.
“It was nice to be able to offer something to them, since we weren’t able to communicate with them,” she said. “Everyone understands the language of music.”
A completely different tone was taken in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, at the town square, where the band played, along with other selections, a jazzy piece, “Shoutin’ Liza,” which featured 16 trombone players, including Floyd.
“They were fun-loving and relaxed, and they just had a good time with it,” she said of the audience.
Smith said it was his favorite concert.
“The people there were so enthusiastic and ready to listen,” he said.
All three said it was the best, and most beautiful, stop on the trip.
“Switzerland was by far the best,” said Wright, who plays bass clarinet. “It’s so beautiful there. It’s not what you’d expect.”
She is pursuing a degree in elementary music and plans to join an orchestra in Bend.
Wright said the best part of the trip was all the friends she met, and she plans to keep up with everyone.
“I feel like I’ve known them my whole life,” she said. “I’ll never forget them.”