OTTUMWA — Two Ottumwa High School musicians have been chosen to tour Europe with the Iowa Ambassadors of Music (IAM) next month.
Courtney Burgess and Andrew Milder were nominated in secret by their choir director, Dennis Vasconez.
"We had no idea we were nominated; in fact, no one in the class knew about it," explained Milder. "Our choir director just mentioned it one time."
Burgess said she and her mother opened the envelope, and she was almost awestruck with the contents.
"After I found out, I immediately ran to my choir director and said 'Thank you, thank you!' a million times," said Burgess.
Burgess and Milder have been members of Preludes, Meister Singers and Sudden Impact Show Choir, all music groups at OHS. They have participated in several state solo and ensemble days with OHS. Both students will be joining IAM's 150-member-choir.
The Ambassadors have a 16-day concert tour covering England, France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy and Liechtenstein. The students will perform in each country except Liechtenstein.
Being a member of the Iowa Ambassador of Music tour means that through performance, the participants are involved in a sharing of cultures.
"I'm looking forward to just going in general because everything will be a new experience for me — I have never even flown before," said Burgess.
One of the highlights from past tours has been when the students realize the USA’s national march, the “Stars and Stripes Forever," by John Philip Sousa, is a popular march in Europe.
"I am pretty excited because it is, first off, a trip to Europe, and I am most excited to see the London Theater. I like theater a lot," explained Milder.
Dr. Morgan Jones, professor emeritus from the University of Iowa, conducts the Iowa Ambassadors of Music Band, and Peter Westphalen, of Cedar Rapids Washington High School, conducts the choir. Forty Iowa music teachers and musicians will assist in the musical preparation of the ensembles. The music teachers instruct the students and serve as advisers on the tour.
The trip is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will offer participants "so many memories, meeting new friends and new experiences," said Burgess.
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