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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Sioux Central choir member tours Europe

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Owen Paulsen, who will be a sophomore at Sioux Central High School this fall, was given one of the greatest opportunities this summer to share his musical talents.

Paulsen was nominated over a year ago by his choir director, Crystal Bunge and former band teacher Ron Shedenhelm, for a spot in the Iowa Music Ambassadors European concert tour.

This July, Paulsen was a member of the 112-voice choir made up of Iowa musicians and traveled for 16 days throughout Europe along with over 100 high school band musicians.

"I made a ton of new friends," he said. The tour is held every two years. This summer's tour was the 13th, led by well-known music directors in the state.

The outstanding musicians each received music to practice on his or her own prior to the trip and then met for a few days in Grinnell to perform the music together, putting in nine-hour practices; they gave their first concert a couple days before they jetted off to Europe on July 2. The themes for the music consists of traditional pieces, German, African and Latin pieces, religious pieces and the great American tune, "Battle Hymn of the Republic" which always gets a great response.

The agenda stays pretty similar each time and includes visiting six countries - London, England; Paris, France; Zermatt, Switzerland; Seefeld, Austria; Venice, Italy and Rothenberg and Frankfurt, Germany - where the musicians share their voices and instruments with audiences of all sizes, bringing with them the friendliness of Iowa.

The group landed in London and there had the opportunity to visit Windsor Castle, Millennium Bridge, Globe Theatre and rode the London Eye.

They presented a "practice" concert which Paulsen said was a great success.

The group left London to travel to Paris by ferry and it took Paulsen a while to get used to being on the water.

They toured the Louvre where they viewed some of the most famous art work created, took pictures by the Eiffel Tower, toured the Notre Dame Cathedral and performed another concert, hearing many compliments from those in attendance.

The Ambassadors went on to Switzerland, traveling by buses.

Surrounded by mountains, Paulsen said he enjoyed the view.

The third concert was presented in a huge tent which was filled with music-lovers. He discovered a taste for the creamy chocolate and the gelato (ice cream.)

The following night the Americans were entertained by the townspeople who presented a polka show for them which included yodellers.

The group visited Matterhorn where they posed for pictures with St. Bernard dogs and surrounded by mountains.

The group went on to Austria and stayed in a small city and presented their fourth concert.

"This was our best concert ever," Paulsen said.

The Ambassadors went on to Venice, Italy where they were in awe with St. Marks Cathedral where they performed and had the chance to see beautiful glass wear created in a famous glassblowing shop. Gondola rides were offered and "the pizza was awesome," Paulsen said.

The final stop was Germany where they visited Rothenberg and Frankfurt. It was another "amazing" concert, Paulsen said. There was more shopping, a night watchmen tour, and more chocolate.

Loving the music they had performed throughout the tour, Paulsen and three of his friends were quietly singing while walking in Germany when they were heard by bystanders who asked them to sing louder because they "loved" the music. Following the song, four Euros were thrown to them.

The boys laughed and thought their "pay" was pretty good as street performers.

The group left from Frankfurt on July 18.

It was a great experience for Paulsen, who truly loves to sing, and he will jump on the band wagon again if the opportunity is made available to him to participate again.

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