2011 Heart Community Flute Choir Tour of Europe
The Heartland Flute Choir and party arrived in Amsterdam on May 10, 2011. The twelve members of the ensemble were accompanied by Thomas Gouttierre - Dean of UNO International Studies and Programs, Christine Beard – Associate Professor of Music at UNO, Tomm Roland, Associate Professor of Music at UNO, Michael Beard – UNK Assistant Professor of Music and Cindy Nichols – UNO artist/faculty member. After enjoying some eating/shopping the group enjoyed a scenic boat tour of the canals of Amsterdam. The canal system is very extensive with wonderful sites along some the way - a great way to be introduced to the city. The next day the group toured the city ending up at the Rijksmuseum taking in works of the Dutch Masters.
The following two days were spent in the university town of Groningen. Local arrangements were made by the Geography Department of Groningen University, an institution of 35,000 students. Upon arrival the group had a walking tour of the historic town with a visit to the Martini Church. In the afternoon the choir performed its first concert of the tour. This was followed by a reception where students and faculty members had a chance to meet each other.
The next morning started with a very educational tour. The guide was Professor Greg Ashworth. In addition to the tour he challenged the Omaha delegation with questions that face a changing society, especially one with such history. Afterwards he and his wife graciously hosted everyone in their home. After lunch a water management tour was arranged. Everyone learned how the Dutch have historically dealt with water and land reclamation while viewing lovely countryside and learning about dikes, terps (large man-made hills with towns on top) and canals.
A highlight of the trip to Brussels the next day was a stop at the Kingma flute factory in Grollo. Eva Kingma is a world famous flute maker specializes in alto, bass, and contra bass flutes. Her instruments are known to flutists worldwide. She graciously welcomed the group to her workshop where she demonstrated her craft and allowed the group to play flutes. The ensemble gave an impromptu concert and Ms. Kingma insisted that the bass and alto sections use her flutes. It was a wonderful experience for all.
After the trip to the Grollo the group arrived in Brussels just in time to enjoy the famous Brussels Mussels. The next morning the delegation toured the city including one of the most interesting buildings ever-the Atomium, the royal palace, the historic city gate, EU headquarters, the amazing Grand Place and the famous little guy-Mannequin Pis.
The next day began a series of day trips out of Brussels. The first journey was to Ghent where the delegation was hosted by the School of Economics of Ghent University. At this juncture the UNO Chancellor joined the delegation. Everyone had the chance to meet with students and faculty as well as other Americans who were also visiting the school. The visit included a tour of the city with wonderful cathedrals, canals, a castle and the historic port. In the afternoon the choir performed a well received concert at the university. Following this the Chancellor exchanged gifts and presented the UNO Chancellor’s Medal to the Chancellor of Ghent University.
The following day was on to Bruges. The visit began with a beautiful canal cruise through the medieval city. The group then met its guide, Mrs. Verhoyen who is a professional flutist and is married to Peter Verhoyen, the piccolo player with the Belgian National Symphony. After a tour of the town she escorted everyone to their home for a master class with Mr. Verhoyen.
The next day it was on to the port city of Oostende. A feature of the city is the Gothic cathedral that looked as if it could have been built in the 13th century, it was however built in 1900. The afternoon and evening were spent at the conservatory where the choir observed classes and performed a concert. A highlight was having Peter Verhoyen performing with the group.
Before the trip to Antwerp the following day some of the group visited the magnificent St. Michaels cathedral–an impressive sight.The day in Antwerp began with a walking tour of the historic part of the city. Highlights were the Central Train Station, St. Carolus Baromeous (with design by Paul Rubens), a musical instrument museum, the Madonna statues throughout the city and the impressive Grand Square.
The following day began with some of the group returning to Omaha while the rest headed for Paris. Upon arrival in Paris, the remaining delegation visited the Opera, the Concorde area and up Champ Elysee to Arc de Triomphe. The next morning included visits to the cemeteries at Pere Lachaise and Montmartre. Some of the famous graves seen included those of Chopin, Berlioz, Adolphe Sax, Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Nadia Boulanger, Edgar Degas and Andre Jolivet. In the afternoon it was up the Eiffel Tower followed by a tour of various areas of Paris. The evening was topped off by a wonderful performance of the Brussels Philharmonic (after 6 days in Brussels it was ironic to see hear them in Paris). The theme of the concert was music from the film 2001 Space Odyssey.
The last day in Paris started with a visit to the Paris Conservatory. The delegation was able to watch part of a tuba recital and hear a piece on the impressive organ. Then off to the Louvre spending hours taking in some of the massive collection the Louvre has to offer. That evening the Paris group had a farewell dinner at Chez Clement before returning to Omaha the next day.