2008 Symphonic Wind Ensemble to Czech Republic, Austria, and France
The UNO Symphonic Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Dr. James Saker, kicked off their summer with a successful tour of Europe. After an arduous journey, they arrived in Pilsen, a city in the Czech Republic where they spent four nights at a recently renovated abbey. Their first concert of the tour was in the historic St. Nicholas Church on the old town square of Prague, where they performed for an enthusiastic audience.
A highlight of the trip was participating in the Liberation Festival in Pilsen, celebrating the liberation of Pilsen and the Czech Republic by the American Army from Nazi rule at the end of World War II. The Symphonic Wind Ensemble presented their Liberation Festival Concert to an enthusiastic audience of dignitaries, vets, and Czech citizens.
Other notable highlights of the tour included visits to Vienna and Innsbruck with a concert that included a performance by trombonist Craig Hanford, a native of Ohio and a member of the Tyrolean Symphony Orchestra. While in Innsbruck students and faculty had the opporunity to meet with their counterparts at one of UNO’s newest sister institutions, the Management Institute of Innsbruck. Visits were also made in Berne, Switzerland, and Bourges, France, and a much anticipated visit to Paris. While in France the group spent several days in Bourges. This part of the tour was part of a visit to explore the possible relationship of the city becoming Omaha’s newest sister city. During the time in Bourges the ensemble presented a well attended concert at the beautiful, 19th Century “Theatre Jacques Coeur.” An enthusiastic audience greeted each selection with an invitation to return to Bourges anytime the group wishes.
It was then on to Paris. While April in Paris is said to be wonderful, the group’s May experience was spectacular. Clear skies and pleasant temperatures provided the backdrop for sight seeing and dining in this glorious city. The trip was topped with a well-received concert in view of the Eiffel Tower followed by a farewell dinner at a great Parisian restaurant. The next day the delegation left for Omaha, happy to return home but basking in a sea of wonderful memories. The sentiments of all participants were summarized by Brittney Harris, President of the Wind Ensemble: "This trip was a rewarding experience for everyone. We had the opportunity to represent our school and country through our music. This was an experience that I will never forget and cherish the rest of my life."