I have questions!!! What do I do? Read this and, when all else fails, if you have a question, please be in touch directly with Chorus of Westerly executive director Ryan Saunders (firstname.lastname@example.org) and he will be happy to answer any and all questions for you. The tour itinerary is here (click here or on the PDF icon).
When is the tour? The tour departs Westerly on Thursday, July 6, 2017 and returns on Monday, July 17, 2017
Where is the Chorus going? The Chorus is going to Germany. Our three "home" cities will be Leipzig, Erfurt, and Ulm. We will also visit Magdeburg, Dresden, Weimar, Rothenburg, Jena, Eisenach, Ulm, and Fürstenfeldbruck (outside of Munich). The Chorus will sing in Leipzig, Magdeburg, Jena, and in Kloster Fürstenfeld in the Abbey Church. What will the Chorus be singing on tour?
One of the most important choral works of all-time, J.S. Bach's Mass in B Minor. Many of the cities we will visit and venues we will sing in are important in the life of Bach and Handel and getting to sing the B Minor in them will be extra special.
What orchestra will perform with? We are going to be performing with Orchestra Musica Laetitia in Magdeburg, Leipzig, and Erfurt and with the Süddeutsche Kammerphilharmonie in Fürstenfeldbruck. Who can sing on tour with the Chorus? Any active and "in good standing" member of the Chorus of Westerly, this includes the children and teenagers of the Chorus.
Who can go on the tour? Any member of the Chorus - adult, child, or teen - may come as a singer. Any friend, family member or other relative, spouse, partner, neighbor, of any Chorus member may also come. Patrons of the Chorus and friends and donors of the Chorus may also come as non-singing "followers". There are no restrictions on who may sign up and come on the tour as a follower.
My daughter and/or son is a child singer in the Chorus, what are the restrictions on their participation? Anyone who will be 18 or older on July 6, 2017 is considered an adult participant on the tour. Those who are younger than 18 will require a chaperone. A chaperone can be anyone older than 18 for a Chorus child younger than 18. Ideally, the chaperone is a parent or family member who comes on the tour with the Chorus child as a tour camp-follower. If this is not possible, it is up to the parent of the Chorus child to locate and select a chaperone for their child - someone they work out chaperoning arrangements with outside of the Chorus - on their own. The Chorus staff can help connect parents with potential chaperones, but makes no guarantees. On our most recent tour in 2014, we were able to help parents find chaperones for all children who wanted to go on tour who did not have family members also going on tour. If you are thinking about sending your son or daughter on tour, we encourage you to set-up an appointment with Ryan Saunders right away.
We do encourage Chorus teenagers in particular to go on tour. They are very, very welcome, and we will do our best to find a way to allow them to participate.
How old should my child be to go on tour?
This is a question that we cannot answer for you. However, your child needs to be musically ready to go on tour. That means being at least at the junior level and, ideally, at the full choir level at the time of tour. Children who are in the training or junior choir level in early 2016 should talk to Andrew Howell or Ryan Saunders about this and where there child might be in the summer of 2017. Children will have a busy schedule on the tour with multiple performances, so that should be taken into consideration. On the four previous Chorus international tours, including the 2014 tour, typically the majority of the Chorus children age 13 and older have gone on the tours with great success and enjoyment. Many of them have gone with family members, but many others have not and still have had a great time and done quite well. On each of the four earlier tours, including 2014, we have also had a small handful of Chorus children ages 10-12 also join us. In most of these cases a parent came as well. On the 2014 tour, we had two 10-year old participants who did a fine job. So, it is possible for the youngsters to go, but each child is different. We do not recommend sending a young child on tour ages 10-12, however, without a parent or close family member coming with them. We have had on previous tours many children younger than 10 and children ages 10-17 who are NOT singers in the Chorus come on the tour with their families as camp-followers. We even had about a dozen children younger than age 5 join us in 2014 on tour. These children all did very well and intermingled with regular Chorus children and teens quite often on the trip. For children younger than age 5, we are likely able to offer significant discount in tour costs from the the regular fees. Please discuss with Ryan immediately so you can understand your options for this "mini-kids" on the trip.
How much spending money will I need? How much spending money am I going to need to bring with me? That's a difficult question for us to answer at this point and for you personally. Every person, every family, every eating style and schedule and habit is different. You might be a person who enjoys full, gourmet meals at every turn and likes to buy souvenirs, or you might like to get a quick bite at a sidewalk sandwich stand and skip extra treats. You might be someone who likes to go out at night for a drink, or you might turn in early every night. It is hard for us to forecast this for you. As we get closer, we can try to help in this area. But, you will have a full, good breakfast every day - including being well fed on all travel days. There are 4-5 dinners planned and maybe one more if fundraising goes well. Lunches are almost all on your own, but there are lots of cheap options in every city we will visit.
How many people do you think will go on the tour? We anticipate about 100-108 singers and about 60-75 camp-followers. Will the buses be air conditioned and have bathrooms? Will the hotels have air conditioning? Yes. How does the hotel/housing situation work? The rate is based on double-room occupancy. That means two people per room. It might be possible to keep families together in larger rooms or connectors. We will work on that with you. If you want to find your own buddy and roommate, you can do that! If you need to connect with someone, we will help on that too. If you want to stay in a room by yourself in a single, you can do this for an upcharge of $415.
I have dietary issues or special requests, at the group dinners and on the flight, are their options available for me? Yes. We will explain these options closer to the tour.
I have medical concerns and wish to know what services and support might be available to me, to whom do I speak to about this?
You can speak to Ryan confidentially and he can explain options and/or research with ACFEA solutions while in Europe.
I heard one of the reasons we are doing this tour is part of celebrations of the Reformation in Germany. What does this mean?
It is true that 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. In eastern Germany, where our tour begins, this is a fairly big deal and some of our concerts will likely be included on music festivals centered around this year of celebration. We are also going to provide service music in one of Bach's churches on a Sunday afternoon. We do realize this has created confusion for some folks and a little worry. Rest assured, we are participating in cultural events as musicians, we are not looking to convert anyone nor are we forcing any sort of religious experience on anyone. We are going to sing in places that were important to Bach and Handel and many other hugely important composers from Germany. Composers who are hugely important in the world of Western Music and in choral music. Ironically, we will be singing a Roman Catholic Mass setting in the B Minor Mass (in performance, like we would in Westerly) in a few Lutheran venues. We will also be singing it in a Roman Catholic Abbey toward the end of the tour. The point being in all of this is that we are performing one of the warhorses of Western Music in the very venues - which happen to be churches - where this music was written and first performed, but we offer it as guest musicians. Getting to sing in some of these places is like getting to sing in St. Peter's at the Vatican, the Matthias Church in Budapest, Stephansdom, Westminster Abbey, the Duomos of Milan and Florence, King's College Chapel, and Canterbury Catherdral - and these are ALL places the Chorus of Westerly has performed. If anyone would like to talk more about this, please set-up an appointment with Ryan and he will be more than happy to speak with you.
Are the cities we are staying in big and busy or easily walkable?
The cities we are staying with are all easily walkable. The largest is Leipzig which has about 500,000 in its city limits, and about a million in its metro area. Leipzig is SMALLER than Prague and Boston. Erfurt and Ulm are much smaller cities with easily walkable and enjoyable medieval cores. We will be staying within walking distance of each of the medieval cores in the three cities. When compared to the 2014 tour, none of the cities we are in are the size or scope of Vienna or Budapest.
Are the cities we are going to safe? Yes. We can't stress this enough. You will be going to some very small, very beautiful, very old, and very safe cities in western Europe. Crime rates in each of these cities is far lower than their American counterparts. These are not the mega-cities of Germany like Cologne, Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Hanover, Stuttgart, or Frankfurt. We intentionally designed a tour plan that brought us a little off the regular path. All singers and camp-followers will be very safe in these cities, which are all now quite western.
I don't speak German, can I get by on this tour?
Yes. Germany is very English friendly. Almost everyone had it in school at some point. And, while the Germans do appreciate a good effort in their native tongue, they will not hesitate to use English with you if they can and they won't hold it against you either. The image of Germans being smart, direct, and efficient is often true - keeping in mind everyone is different - but they are also warm, fun, and caring. And, truth is, you probably know more German than you realize. I think I want to use my own AirMiles to get to Europe because I think that will save me money? Can I do this, and how much will I save? Yes. You can do this and you can opt out of air and book your own travel. This will reduce your cost quite a bit. There is an "air opt out fee" but is manageable. If you would like to know more about this, contact Ryan Saunders at email@example.com immediately.
Can I go to Europe before the tour and meet you there?
For singers, no. We will be having rehearsals right before the tour back in Westerly, so we will need you to fly over with the group, or, if you are on your own, no more than a day or so early. There are some exceptions for-followers. Contact Ryan Saunders if you would like to discuss this with him.
Can I "deviate" and stay in Europe after the tour? Can you help me book that? Yes, on a limited basis. On the 2014 Tour, we had 60+ people "deviate" from the planned end of tour itinerary and stay in Europe longer than the tour. Folks went to lots of other places, and we changed their end of trip flight plans to make it possible. The costs to tour participants to do this included a deviation fee (a change fee, no way around this) and any difference or added airfare for the deviations. Most of the deviations were different so there isn't one fine example we can give you. We are waiting to find out the exact specifics this time, but likely we can do some deviations on this tour at the end of the tour, but with different restrictions when compared to last time. What it looks like is that folks might be ableto fly home from their "hub" airport a certain amount of days later on the same flight they would have originally taken home with the Chorus, just on a different day. For example, Joe and Joan Smith, are scheduled to fly home with the Chorus via Frankfurt on the last day of the tour, Monday, July 17, 2017. They want to spend another week in Europe and want to go to Vienna for that time and fly home on the 24th. What it looks like we will be able to do is fly them home from Frankfurt on the 24th on the same exact flight (flight number and airline from Frankfurt to Boston, just a week later). What Joe and Joan will have to do is book themselves, or make the plans themselves, for their own inter-Europe itinerary (say flying to Vienna and back, or similar). So, Joe and Joan can deviate, they just have to make certain plans and thus pay for them, themselves, and their deviation is just on their trans-Atlantic flight. We will confirm this with ACFEA over the next few months. So, in a nutshell, some deviations will likely be possible with some creativity, but we make NO guarantees in this area at this time for anyone in terms of deviation options. Someone can, however, always take the air opt out and book their own travel. They might save that way. Speak with Ryan about ideas in this area. I have other questions, how can I get them answered? Email Ryan Saunders, firstname.lastname@example.org, and schedule an office appointment or phone call with him. This is better than dropping in to the office to see him as he might not have time when you arrive, but if you make an appointment he will make the time.