With Gratitude: Mostar and Dubrovnik
Something magical happened during the Chamber Choir's tour of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina this March. Synergy, alchemy, a convergence of many factors to make a unique and unforgettable experience. A choir director's graciousness, vision for cultural exchange, and ability to bring out the best in his students...Twenty-four students equally interested in learning about the places and people they met and performing their music with excellence...Grand performance spaces ranging from classrooms in music schools to elegant, 14th century churches with magnificent acoustics...An experience that took students out of their comfort zone and connected them to places and cultures they had never known...Countries devastated by both historic and recent wars, but infused with a spirit of survival...Tour guides who quickly became our friends and who could explain complex issues with candor, clarity and humor. Landscapes, architecture, stories and people we will never forget.
During the Choir's 12 day tour, we visited six cities-- Zagreb, Croatia's vibrant capital; Osijek and Vukovar, "hero" cities on Croatia's border with Serbia that were devastated by war and ethnic cleansing; Sarajevo, site of the 1984 Winter Olympics and survivor of a three year siege; Mostar, a remnant of Turkish culture dating back to the Ottoman Empire; and Dubrovnik, the Pearl of the Adriatic. In each place we visited, we did a walking tour of the city, learning about its history, culture, architecture and people from local guides. The group learned about the series of empires and nationalities that shaped the culture of the area, and also appreciated the dramatic natural landscape, from the mountains of Bosnia to a plunge into the Adriatic Sea. Along the way, the Chamber Choir sang in both magnificent and humble spaces, often partnering with local choirs and schools. The connections that students made with their peers from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina allowed them to really participate in a cultural exchange, each sharing their music and perspective with the other.
All of us who traveled on this memorable tour are so grateful for the experience, the welcome we received, and the support we were given. We especially thank Kris Johnson for his vision and hard work in creating such a meaningful experience for us all.
Hvala (thank you).
Mostar's emblematic bridge, which was destroyed during the war in 1992, has been retrieved from the river bottom and rebuilt exactly as it was before.
The courtyard of a Turkish-style house that we visited in Mostar.
Chaperones Janine, Kris, Kayden and Ian on the Mostar bridge.
Our bus reflected in the windows of one of our hotels.
The group en route to Dubrovnik.
Dubrovnik, a town known for its diplomacy and trade between warring empires, sits perched on cliffs overlooking the Adriatic Sea.
The narrow streets of Dubrovnik's Old City are lined with shops and vibrant with activity.
A poster announcing Proctor's "Koncert" in Dubrovnik on a wall of the Old City.
The Chamber Choir's final, and perhaps finest, concert in Dubrovnik.
The group pauses for a photo while walking the 2 kilometer perimeter wall of Dubrovnik's Old City.