Written by Nancy Mahan
Two graduates from Culbertson High School were nominated by their band teacher Mrs. Hekkel to join the North Dakota State University Music Tour of Europe this summer.
Lindsey Herness and Jessie Dreikosen sent in their audition tapes to NDSU and were chosen to join 334 other musicians and singers from Montana and North Dakota to tour Europe and perform their music amongst the beautiful backdrops of England.
Dreikosen entered two events, soprano and flute, while Herness entered for alto. Both girls did several fundraisers to earn money for their trip as well as receiving many donations.
The band and choir alternated performing at various parks, gazebos, and churches in London, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and Paris, France.
Their trip started with a three-day camp at NDSU where all 336 students gathered to practice with the choir and band for the first time. After a long flight to England, they were bused to different locations throughout the cities to perform. The band and choir alternated band performing at the locations. It took eight buses including a double-decker bus to get the group from one location to another.
The highlight in London was seeing the theatrical play, Wicked. “London's version was amazing with a live orchestra,” Jessie said, who noted the orchestra sounded like it was a recording as they were “that good.”
Other highlights of their tour were watching some Olympic ski jumpers do practice runs in Austria, seeing Westminster Abbey in England and touring the Japanese Concentration camp in Germany.
Both girls said, "It is one thing to read about it in school and something completely different to see it first hand. This was something they will never forget. It was very gruesome."
We spent about 45 minutes talking about the layout of the camp, the ovens in the crematorium and the unnerving feelings of being in a place of such horror and pain.
France was celebrating their Independence Day while the group was there, London was busy with the 'Royal Baby' coming and the 60th Coronation of the Queen. The White Cliffs of Dover were amazing, as were the tons of vineyards, castles, museums and parks.
France had the best bread, Switzerland ruled on chocolates and sweets, but nothing tasted better than when they landed in Denver, Colo. It was a major "snack attack" at the airport. The only American junk food on their tour was Pringles, Nutella and Oreos.
Even though the girls were exhausted from the adventure, they said it was a trip of a lifetime and one they both would highly recommend for anyone wanting to see such majesty as Europe and the surrounding countryside.