Music Without Borders - My Family Travels

After a two and a half hour drive from Prague, we finally arrived in Dresden. This was the sixth stop for our orchestra’s tour in Germany and the Czech Republic. The bus drove us to the edge of the city, where the Theaterplatz, home of the Semper Opera House, welcomed us. As we hopped off the bus, the chaperones handed each of us a handful of flyers to pass out to pedestrians while touring the beautiful city. Initially, we targeted the elderly, figuring that, as in America, they were the primary attendees to classical music concerts. The young adults of Dresden surprised us, though, when many of them graciously accepted our flyers with the word “Konzert” in bold print.


The next day, we headed for the Sachsisches Landesgymnasium fur Musik, a high school for music on the outskirts of Dresden. We were set to play Dvorak’s Carnival Overture as an encore with Sophie and Hannah, two of their orchestra members. Samantha, our concertmaster, and the German violinist Sophie got along immediately: with a slight smile, their heads leaned in to hear each others’ greetings above the noise of the rest of the orchestra. Soon, they began practicing Dvorak together, unintentionally showing off their adeptness at violin, the joy of playing music flowing freely between them. After a quick run-through of Dvorak, we proceeded to rehearse our big piece of the night: Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition. I stole a glance at Sophie and Hannah, now sitting in the auditorium, happily conducting along with our conductor Mr. Giangiulio. I smiled at their familiarity with and adoration for the piece.

After the concert, we had a picnic together at their school’s campus, a wonderful environment to study music, with buildings full of practice rooms in the middle of a small forest. While enjoying sausages and salad together, we sat with the Dresden music school’s conductor, sharing a pleasant conversation about classical music and our favorite composers, soloists, and conductors.

Then, Ben asked: “Why did you decide to do music for a living?”

Everyone sat back, anticipating an inspiring answer. After a moment of contemplation, he said, "When you make music, it's like ecstasy. You feel happy and love it." It was such a simple yet powerful explanation. Music is his life; he lives and breathes music. I couldn’t agree with him more, especially with the night’s atmosphere, one of joy shared through our love of music. No one wanted the night to end.

We were, however, due for a long drive to Weimar the next day, so the night came to a reluctant close. Just as we were about to leave, a boy from the music school jumped on our bus and exclaimed “Can I come with you guys?!”, which was immediately followed by cheers and pleads for an affirmation of his request. A bittersweet laugh escaped my mouth when the boy left our bus and we headed back to the hotel. I knew from the moment we parted with the German kids that this night was going to stay in my heart forever. Mr. G was right to say that it’s amazing how kids who don’t even speak the same language bond with each other through music after such a short time. Those precious moments in Dresden showed­­ that music knows no boundaries, whether they be age, race, or language. The old laughed with the young, the Americans admired the German culture, and the German-speaking left with a few English words in their vocabulary, as the shared love and passion for music reverberated throughout the entire campus.

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