• 2013 Ensemble Tour to Germany, Austria, Slovakia

Graz - Day 9 - July 9, 2013

Day 9, Graz Austria

The kids arrived at the HIB school bright and early this morning for a long rehearsal, something we haven’t had in the last few days.  Our host and hostess, Günter and Maria, were most hospitable, and members from their choir graciously greeted us as we arrived in the morning weary-eyed and a bit sleepy from the night before.  Kids came with their lunches packed and lots of goodies provided by their amazing homestay families, and after the rehearsal, we loaded up on the bus and headed out to the Palace Eggenberg, one of the most significant Baroque Palaces in Styria.,_Graz  While eating their picnic lunches, the kids enjoyed the beautiful gardens with sweet smelling plants and the colorful peacocks roaming the grounds .  As mentioned before, the food in Graz is very unique to the area, and I was very impressed with the beautiful looking lunches that the kids came with that day, especially those that had fresh salads with their signature Pumpkin Seed Oil -- delicious!!

After a quick lunch, we had a guided tour of the palace which was very interesting.  The palace was built in the beginning of the 17th century.  Apparently there already was a medieval building at that location, and they were able to salvage the original altar from the 15th century, bringing it back to the palace to put on display.  The Eggenberg family was a prominent family in Austria at the time.  One of the ideas Maria Teresa Eggenberg thought most important was that everyone became educated and attend school for at least 4 years, not just the rich.  While in the palace, the kids performed in the Planetary Room of the castle.  The acoustics in there were great and the kids enjoyed performing in a castle!

Following the tour, we loaded back on the bus where we were taken to the Old Town where the kids got to walk through the floating island, and then head to an underground cave, with elevators that took us straight through the mountain up to the top where you could see the whole city and enjoy the tourist attractions.  A very few decided to brave it and walk the stairs instead of taking the elevators! Working off all that amazing schnitzel probably would have been a good idea for all!  Even though the kids were exhausted from the heat and the excitement of the day, they didn't seem to show it one bit.  They flooded the souvenir shop, mostly purchasing ice cream to cool themselves down and rested on the lawn at the very top of the hill.  Michael was in seventh heaven, for I think it is his goal to find and have ice cream every day this tour, and yet again, he was successful!   After about 45 minutes of exploration, we started to make our way down the hill.  On the way down, we ran into an accordion player who was playing traditional Austrian polka music.  Roman Rockhofer taught Shauna how to dance a simple polka dance and they had fun dancing to the music!  They weren't half bad!

Once we were back in Old Town, Maria and Günter took the kids to a beautiful church with great acoustics.  The kids were given a lesson about the organ that is in that church.  The organist showed us all the different sounds it can make.  Courtney impressed us all by playing some Bach, after Maria asked if anyone wanted to try!  Yay Courtney!

We then went to a very famous bakery in Graz, Princess Sissi's Bakery.  Most all of the bakeries in Graz are excellent because, as legend has it, if their baked goods weren't up to standards, the bakers were put in this metal cage and dangled in the river, nearly drowning them, threatening them to make the best baked goods in town!  To this day, they still fear the near drowning and work very hard to make the best around, and they definitely are delicious!  The kids had a great time there, buying pastries and cookies to bring home.  The pastries, of course, were enjoyed right there on the spot!

We loaded back on the bus and headed back to the music school where we met our Austrian choir friends for our rehearsal before our evening outdoor concert.  Many of the families brought picnic dinners that looked unbelievable!  Fresh salads with pumpkin seed oil, one specialty of Graz only, pizza, delicious sandwiches, and much more.  The kids were more than delighted!

Our joint concert was also a very memorable one.  Both choirs took turns sharing the stage.  We heard some traditional Austrian music, dance, harp and violin, and our own kids were stunning as well, calling for an encore, of course!  Some of the Austrian choir who knew "Day Break in Alabama," sang it with us, and then they finished the concert, conjoined, singing, "The Earth is our Mother."   Everyone was energetic, healthy, and happy to be on stage, sharing this concert with their friends.  The audience was more than impressed, the Austrian News was there recording, and everyone was happy!

Their homestays took the kids home and our kids hopefully got some good rest, for the next morning, they have a recording session bright and early!

Good night from Graz!



Isaac, Seth, Carmen, Andres and Elka climbing a tree at the castle
  • 2013 Ensemble Tour to Germany, Austria, Slovakia