A Final Update, Complete With Tour Photos!

Hello all!

We’ve been back in the states for two full days now, and we’ve got to saw readjusting hasn’t been easy but we’re getting through it! Jet lag is not fun but we do have to admit it’s good to be home.

One big benefit of being back in the U.S. is having good WiFi, which means we were able to update the Flickr page and post all of our amazing photos. You can view the page by clicking the link below.


Once again, thank you to everyone who supported us during this trip, especially our benefactors, and thanks to everyone who took the time out of their day to follow this blog! Until next time!

Signing off,

Melanie, Maya, and Bethany


Home Sweet Home

After a long and exciting trip, we’ve finally made it back home to Gettysburg! We can’t believe how much fun we had visiting Berlin, Leipzig, and Prague. Not only did we perform amazing concerts, but we got to visit beautiful historical sites and we formed bonds and friendships that will last a lifetime. These memories will stay with us forever and we will cherish them always.

Before we sign off, we’d like to take a moment to introduce ourselves, the bloggers!

Melanie Greenberg, Class of 2020, is a History and Education major with a Music minor. Her primary instrument is the trumpet, which she played on her tour with the Wind Symphony. In addition to Wind Symphony, she plays trumpet with the Gettysburg Bullets Marching Band, the Symphony Band, and is apart of the trumpet studio. She also sings in the Gettysburg Concert Choir and is apart of the piano studio. Melanie served as the student coordinator for this trip and is also apart of the band staff. She also is the current Fundraising and Philanthropy Chair in the Epsilon Beta chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota, the International Music Fraternity at Gettysburg College.

Maya Johnson, Class of 2021, is a current Music Major at Gettysburg College. She hopes to declare herself with a Biology-related major soon. She plays flute and piccolo in the Wind Symphony and is also part of the Gettysburg Bullets Marching Band, the Orchestra, flute studio, and a chamber group. Maya is proud to say she is a student of Gettysburg College and is grateful for all the opportunities she has been offered to further her musical career at the Sunderman Conservatory of Music. Maya is a current member-in-training in the Epsilon Beta chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota, the International Music Fraternity at Gettysburg College.

Bethany Frankel, Class of 2020, is an English Major with a Writing Concentration at Gettysburg College. Bethany plays trumpet with the Wind Symphony and is also part of the Gettysburg College Marching Band, the Symphony Band, and is in trumpet studio. She sings alto in Audeamus, a high-voiced choir offered at the college.  Bethany currently works as the student public relations staff in the Sunderman Conservatory Office and is on the executive board of 91.1 WZBT, the college’s radio station. Bethany is also an active member of Epsilon Beta chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota, the International Music Fraternity at Gettysburg College.


The entirety of the Wind Symphony and everyone else who came along with us on the trip would like to thank all of our family, friends, faculty members, and everyone else who helped make this trip possible. We would especially like to thank the benefactors who helped give us the financial aid needed to ensure that everyone in the ensemble was able to participate. Additionally, the students would like to give a special shoutout to Dr. S. Kay Hoke, Dr. Steven Marx, and of course Dr. Russell McCutcheon for everything they did to guide us and contribute to our learning and trip experience. We are eternally grateful.

Until next time! Go Bullets!

We’re Going Home!

Hey everyone!

If you are reading this, we have officially left the NH Prague Hotel and are heading to the airport.

Our first flight departs from the Prague airport at 1:45pm DST and lands in Munich at 2:40pm DST. Shortly after, our second flight departs from Munich at 4:00pm DST and will land at Washington Dulles at 8:40pm EST.

We’ve had such a great time in Germany and the Czech Republic, but we can’t wait to get home to Gettysburg! We will make another post tomorrow when we return to the states. See you then!

Smiling at Smetana

Today was the day we’ve all been waiting for, the day we finally got to play in Smetana Hall!

The morning started late as we all got to sleep in. Everyone enjoyed having a nice and relaxing morning to themselves as people lounged around and ate a substantial breakfast. Students were also excited to welcome back Ben Skinner, a student who was apart of the Wind Symphony last semester and is currently studying abroad in Denmark. Ben had the opportunity to join us for the day and help with setting up/tearing down the concert as well as photography during our rehearsal and performance.


Brian Ruether (left) welcoming back his friend Ben Skinner (right)

Once we finished breakfast, we loaded the bus to head to Smetana Hall. The building was even more gorgeous than we had imagined. We were all in awe as we walked through the great hall and took in the room that we would soon be playing in.


Our ensemble was allotted about half an hour of rehearsal so we wasted no time and got right to work. We worked hard to make sure our music was as immaculate as possible.





After rehearsal was finished, we were given about three hours of free time to eat lunch, shop, and explore the city of Prague for the last time before our concert.

Soon after we returned from free time, we were getting dressed and warming up for our performance. Students had time to take pictures before the concert began.





Dr. McCutcheon had a debrieifing session with everyone thanking them for all their hard work. Before we left to take our places in the balcony while the first group performed, the band joined together and sang the Alma Mater. It was quite a heartwarming experience for everyone involved.

The group enjoyed watched the Ford Bend ISD Orchestra perform before us and then it was our turn on the stage. It was quite an incredible experience to play Karel Husa’s ‘Smetana Fanfare’ in Smetana Hall.





The audience greatly enjoyed our performance, giving us multiple rounds of applause and cheering loudly. The ensemble was extremely happy with the quality of our playing, and Dr. McCutcheon and Dr. Marx couldn’t have been more thrilled. Some members of the audience even took photos of us when we took our group photo!




To end our performance day, the ensemble enjoyed a lovely group dinner within the Smetana Hall restaurant. An accordion player dazzled us with his talents and even played ‘Happy Birthday’ for Marc Tessier and Brandon Hall who both celebrated their birthdays today, as well as Meg Zierold whose birthday was on Thursday.

Tomorrow we head back to the states. Stay tuned to see some more posts summarizing our phenomenal trip! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Passing Through Prague

We started today with a delicious hotel breakfast before heading to our bus to meet our tour guide for today. Finally, after weeks of talking about our ‘Prague Trip,’ we were finally going to explore the city we had heard so much about!





As the tour was a combined walking-bus tour, our first stop was to St. Vitus Church, home St. John of Nepotuk’s tomb, beautiful stained glass windows, and a whole lot of history. The line to get in was long and the weather was rainy, but we made the most of it!





Once inside the church, it was clear to everyone why the line to get inside was so long. Students were captivated by the immense beauty within the structure.






Soon after leaving the church, we headed to Prague Castle. This was an extremely significant place to visit as not only does it contain much of the Czech Republic’s history, but it is also where the current President works. We were all excited to see to see the Czech flag raised which meant the President was in the building, though unfortunately we didn’t get a glimpse of him.




After leaving the castle, we walked for a little bit through the streets of the Old City before arriving at St. Charles’s Bridge. The oldest bridge in the city, it is one of the major symbols of Prague, making it one of the largest tourist attractions. Still, despite the crowds it was quite an incredible experience to be able to walk across the bridge. The gorgeous views were also a plus!






Once across the bridge, the ensemble walked through a few more streets before arriving to a square in the Old City where we were given some free time to get lunch, do some shopping, and just explore the city.




When we met back up together, the group loaded back onto our gumdrop tour bus to head to the Dvořák museum. A world famous composer and a favorite of many on our tour, this was something many of us have been looking forward to for a long time. The chance to listen to Dvořák’s 9th symphony within the museum, see original manuscripts of some of our favorite pieces, and see some of the artifacts belonging to this great composer (including his personal viola!) was an opportunity we will never forget.





Tonight, students have the chance to explore the city on their own. Tomorrow is the day of our final concert! We cannot wait to play in Smetana Hall alongside the Fort Bend ISD Honors Orchestra from Texas. Stay tuned to see our post for tomorrow!


A Moment of Reflection: Terezín

Our afternoon was spent in the town of Terezín in the Czech Republic, located about 40 miles outside of Prague, which is our third and final concert destination.
Our excursion to Terezín consisted of a guided tour of the Terezín fortress and a walk through the Museum of the Ghetto at our own pace. The Terezín fortress was constructed in 1790 as a military station that could be used for defense in case of a war. The fortress then became a prison for political prisoners. During World War II, the fortress became a concentration/transport camp, where Jewish people endured cruel and hard living conditions. Many died within the fortress, and thousands of others were transported to concentration and death camps outside of the country. It was a very jarring and moving experience to witness some of the terrible side of history and learn all that people suffered.
We all had some time to ourselves as we went on the tour through the fortress and after as we thought and leaned on one another. Everyone silently reflected on the history of the fortress and what it personally inspired in them.
We also were able to have some time in the Museum of the Ghetto, located outside of the fortress in the town of Terezín itself. It told of the persecution of Jews during WWII and memorialized the town’s history during World War II, especially how the Jewish people were secluded in the ghetto and then moved from there to Terezín fortress. One part of the exhibition focused on the Jewish children of Terezín, thousands of whom did not survive the war. Looking at displays of their artwork, poetry, and music only added another layer of somber reflection to our day because it was moving to see how such a horrible act of history was depicted by children through art forms. As musicians, this touched a special note because music and art is one of the ways to cope with and show the tragedy in the world, and it was hard for us to see the children’s creations without getting emotional.
Our stop in Terezín was an important one that moved us and taught us. It allowed us a reflection that we will carry with us.

Leaping into Leipzig

After such a fantastic performance the night before, the group was excited to finally have the opportunity to explore the city Wednesday morning and interact with the people who greeted us so warmly. We had breakfast in the hotel which, compared to the stereotypical Holiday Inn breakfast in our past hotel was quite amazing. Sausage, eggs, and croissants galore!

Soon after breakfast, we boarded our tour bus and met our guide for the day, Dr. Silvio. Silvio knows Leipzig like the back of his hand, so it was great to have him along with us.


The first part of our tour was primarily on the bus. We drove past sights such as the University of Leipzig, the Monument to the Battle of Nations, and we got our first glimpses of St. Thomas’s Church where Bach was choirmaster.




After our bus tour, we headed to the Bach museum where we were able to see many original scores handwritten by Bach himself, as well as the most famous portrait of Bach in person Unfortunately, photography was not allowed within the museum, but you can find more information about what’s inside here.


Once we were finished inside the Bach museum, we had to wait a few minutes before we were able to enter St. Thomas’s Church. Though not the most exciting part of the day, we were interested in the lists of attractions we were able to peruse in the museum lobby…


Yep, that’s an advertisement of us! No wonder so many people came to see us in concert!

Visiting St. Thomas’s Church was quite an incredible experience. The church itself was quite beautiful, with stained glass windows depicting the church’s history and two gorgeous organs, but perhaps the most incredible part was the grave of Bach located just below the alter. It was quite moving to be able to visit the final resting place of such an incredible and influential composer.




Once we were finished visiting the church, we said good-bye to Silvio and were given the rest of the day off. Some students visited historical sites; others hit the shops, and some just wandered at leisure. Having this free time to explore the city with friends was the perfect way to end our visit to Leipzig.


Thursday is the day we leave for the Czech Republic! See you then!