Update March 10:
On March 10, Jennifer Lofgren, president of the Muscatine School Orchestras Boosters, confirmed that they still intend to hold the European Tour and Kickoff Concert as originally scheduled. Though Muscatine Community School District has placed an international travel ban on all school sponsored activities, the Boosters, a 501(c)(3) charity independent of the District, have full discretion over events they organize.
As of Saturday, March 7, Muscatine Community School District announced that it would suspend all international travel due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19, as well as national travel to cities in the United States with actively spreading COVID-19. Muscatine High School has not yet released plans to reschedule the trip or hold the local concert. Currently, both the trip and kick off concert have been canceled.
MUSCATINE, Iowa—This March, the Muscatine High School Orchestra will make their first overseas trip ever, performing across Europe during their spring break. To share this historic moment with the community and to help fund this endeavor, the MHS Orchestra will hold their European Tour Kickoff Concert on March 12.
MHS Orchestra Director John Thoma shared that to date, no MHS Orchestra has ever made a tour like this before. “This is the first MHS orchestra group that is going overseas and one of the few musical groups from our community that’s gone overseas,” he said. “It’s a great showcase of our community.”
During their week-long spring break, the group of 50 students will play in Prague, Czech Republic; Vienna, Austria; and Salzburg, Germany. While touring, student musicians will also learn the history of each city and get to do some sight seeing as well. “Europe has the most rich history in terms of orchestral music,” Thoma explained. “We’re visiting the cities Beethoven and Mozart grew up in.”
While each student participating in the tour already paid $3,400 towards the experience, the group still needs additional funding to cover the cost of renting instruments in Europe and having basic supplies available, such as lanyards with identification for each student. To help offset these costs, the MHS Orchestra will host their European Kickoff Concert on March 12 in the Muscatine High School Auditorium at 7 p.m. Open to the public, Thoma encourages everyone who attends to make a free will donation of $10.
Along with helping these students have a once in a lifetime experience, people attending the concert will also get to hear the full set of music students will play abroad, as well as accompaniment from Cedar Rapids musician John Schultz, who will travel with the group as a chaperone.
As the MHS Orchestra’s first ever European Tour draws near, Thoma looks forward to getting the whole community excited about it. With their help, he also looks forward to giving his 50 musicians a transforming experience: “Any international travel, especially at a young age, can be life changing. A lot of the kids going on the trip have scarcely been out of the Midwest.”