My name is Lena Hoplamazian and I am one of the High School members of the Lincoln Park Music Center Foundation. I also had the immense pleasure of taking part in the two-week whirlwind tour of Prague, Crakow, Warsaw, Vienna and Salzburg over this summer. I was able to preform with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra and witness the incredible beauty and history of Europe with some of my fellow musicians and friends. Hear some of their own experiences in the section below.
It is an incredible opportunity to be able to go to three countries, five cities, and countless sites related to distinguished classical composers all in the span of two weeks. The first stop was Prague in the Czech Republic, where I had the pleasure to perform with the talented Czech National Symphony Orchestra. I am sure not many can say they've done the same. Soon thereafter, we were off to Poland, a place that I now hold very dear to my heart due to two very important things: everything related to my favorite composer Frédéric Chopin (his birthplace, the church where he was baptized, the church that now holds his heart, and much more), and the patriotic and kind Polish people from whom we learned so much about their country's history. Poland, a place I had never imagined going to, is now one of my favorite places in the world. Next was Austria, where we visited the homes of many composers including Beethoven, Strauss, and Mozart. We covered so much in such a small span of time - it was impressive. Visiting all of these places undoubtedly strengthened my love for classical music. I left Austria with Strauss' "Blue Danube" stuck in my head and hummed for days afterwards.
Europe’s incredible music, architecture, history, and ambiance captured me once again. Traveling back to Prague and performing at the Ambassador’s residence was an incredibly enriching experience. I was fascinated by the long history of the home—it originating as the home to the country’s richest jewish family, then seized by the Nazis and Soviets, and finally, owned by the Americans—and experienced it in each beautiful room. Performing with the National Czech Orchestra is a privilege and I am grateful to have had the opportunity.
Moving out of Prague and into Poland, the landscape and people changed. I got to experience a brand new set of customs, food, and lifestyle. Although devastated by the war, Poland’s beauty is restored in the architecture capturing historic polish style. Salzburg and Vienna brought the beauty of the Austrian countryside and the music of Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Strauss, and more. I quickly absorbed the rich musical history the nation over the centuries. Through a mixture of Viennese history and snapshots into the lives of composers, I understood why Vienna was the center of the music world. I was inspired by the several live musical performances that we saw throughout the cities. I found myself excited to return home and start new pieces and research the music I had heard (even attempt to play some too). The experience stays with me as the height of my musical journey with Miss Kim. I can happily look forward to my last concert with the Prague performance behind me, adding to my confidence and experience as a pianist.
-- Isabella Norris
This trip was easily one of the best experiences of my life. I feel life all my years as a piano player have lead up to this. We have learned so much information about the composers and the music over the years, but to actually be in the heart of it all was amazing. I particularly loved going to Chopin's house; he is my favorite composer and his house was just beautiful. I also enjoyed going to the palaces, such as the Schömbrunn Palace and the Hofburg Palace. Although the concerts we attended were not typical concerts (rather than being serious and emotional, they were rather light and funny), they were still very fun to go to. I also enjoyed being with the group and spending time with people I really like. It was nice to take a break once in a while and go shopping with my friends. Overall, this trip was amazing and I cannot thank the people who made it happen enough.
Our two weeks in Europe were a wonderful combination of academic inquiry, musical exploration, and great ice cream! In Prague, our concert was an adventure in improvisation, with only one rehearsal with the orchestra before we performed in the beautiful ambassador's residence. In Krakow, walking through the square and enjoying the beauty of such an old city was exhilarating. In Warsaw, the feeling of the big city was incredibly exciting, and seeing Chopin's house was a great experience. The history and gravity of our visit to Auschwitz stuck with us throughout the trip. Austria was beautiful, and walking the bridges and through the fort in Salzburg was a peaceful experience. The gardens were lush and the market was friendly and colorful. Our final destination, Vienna, was enriching and interesting, from our private concert on Strauss' piano, to the wienerscnitzel we enjoyed on the last night. All in all, the trip was wonderful, and we are all so thankful to have had the opportunity to tour Europe in such a thoughtful way.
-- Mara Hoplamazian